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Star Wars: Rogue Squadron Package Art
Factor 5

Star Wars: Rogue Squadron

Let's cut to the chase. Rogue Squadron is one of the flagship titles for the N64 during the 1998 holiday season, right up there in importance with Turok 2: Seeds of Evil and Zelda. As such, expectations are very high for this Factor 5/Lucasarts/Nintendo product. To add to the pressure, Rogue is one of the first games to use the newly-released RAM Expansion Pak by displaying the game at the N64's high-resolution of 640x480. In addition to that, the ever-popular Star Wars license is attached to this game as anticipation builds up for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace movie to be released next year. With that said, you can tell that this game has to be good, right? Well, it is, and it isn't. As you read this review, keep in mind that I am not a Star Wars fan. Not that I hate the movies, actually I find them quite enjoyable, but you wouldn't call me a huge fan; read this review for the actual game, and not for the details of how the license is portrayed.


Usually I don't rate graphics before gameplay, but everyone wants to know how the Expansion Pak adds to this game. Well, when compared to the regular resolution of the game on an unenhanced N64, the improvement is clearly there. The ships look sharper, and even with the high-res on the framerate is improved. However, I had huge expectations for this title, and I'd be lying if I didn't say I was let down. This is partly due to the fact that the RAM Pak enhancement of the cart was an afterthought, being implemented in about a month. In comparison, Zelda (a game without the RAM Pak, of course) looks much better, and Turok 2 is the game to get if you're looking to use your RAM Pak the way it's meant to be used!

In comparison to these other games, I was disappointed to see that the framerate was not up to the expectations of such an important game. Another surprising fact was how much fog there was. Actually, it wasn't really fog, because at least that gives you some sort of illusion of depth; the Rogue landscape just seems to unfold in front of you in an unimpressive way. Even the in-game cut-scenes are nothing to write home about, with games like StarFox 64 doing it better long ago. Remember, I wouldn't be so hard on this game if it hadn't had the Nintendo name on the box, or if the game wasn't set up as high as Turok 2 and Zelda. As just another N64 game, you'll be happy with the graphics, but in my eyes Rogue was supposed to be much more in this department.


If Rogue's graphics were a disappointment, the sound and music more than made up for it! With this title, we finally get to see what all the Factor 5 hype was about. All I can say is that the music in this game is amazing. The original music score as well as some of the movie's tunes sound great, and the sound effects of all the ships and guns are crisp and clear. Also, while it's hard to hear on my small two-speaker television, the sound envelops you at every moment. Another very nice aspect of the sound is the crystal-clear voice samples, with speech pumping out of the cart at many turns of the game. Not much more to say except that it's jaw-dropping.


Okay, here's where things get tricky. If you're expecting a more arcade-style, StarFox-type game, you might as well wait on a purchase and rent this one. However, if you're more into methodical dogfighting with more thought involved, Rogue Squadron does not disappoint. The first really impressive gameplay moment doesn't arrive until the third level, when you and your wingmen are flying low inside a canyon and enemy ships start coming at you. When you get into it, you can appreciate how nicely this game was developed; while measuring the target in front of you, you're also struggling to maintain a good altitude while trying to accomplish your mission of finding a downed ship, all while avoiding the ground and canyon walls. The genius of Rogue's gameplay is seen during these moments, and the game is worth at least a rental for that alone.

Disappointing is the fact that these types of confrontations happen less often than I would have hoped. Couple this with the fact that the game gets really tough, really quickly, and you have a game that slowly changes from fun into work. While playing along in this game, I found myself getting frustrated, especially when trying to use a trip-cable around the legs of the AT-ATs. You'll find yourself throwing the controller to the ground and pulling out your hair as the game switches into a distant and fixed camera while you're confronting one of those big walkers. This kind of abrupt transition, in controls and perspective, totally takes the gamer out of the game, and whatever immersion that was built up is totally lost as the gamer must play the level again and again. When this happens more than a few times, you'll find yourself reaching for Zelda soon enough. Also, one point to note is that this game, which is dying to be multiplayer, is not.




Not being a fan of the Star Wars series, I know I'm being a bit less lenient as those who are fans. However, I can't help but feel disappointed by this game. I guess the hype and the promises got to me, because at the end of the day I had Rogue out of my system. If you're looking for a solid game and you're a Star Wars fan, this game is probably perfect for you. If you're looking for a more arcard-like shooter, replay StarFox 64. Either way, this game is a rental to see if it's worth a purchase, or just to check out some of the best music and sound on the N64. A solid game, but similar to Metal Gear Solid in that there was too much pre-release hype, and it just didn't (or couldn't) live up to it.

final score 8.0/10

Staff Avatar John Benyamine
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