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- Star Wars: Rebel Strike
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A short time ago, at an E3 not so far away, I got a chance to visit with the Jedi of LucasArts for a look at the next exciting installment of the Rogue Squadron series. Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike for the GameCube takes us back to the classical age of the Star Wars saga when X-wings roamed the skies, Danish hair buns were are all the rage and a poor young moisture farmer could become the most powerful being in the galaxy.
Most gamers are quite familiar with Rogue Squadron's legacy of terrific space-based combat, but the Factor 5 team is prepared to do something a little different this time around. Naturally, we'll still see plenty of action in X-wings, B-wings and other things with wings, but how does a little planetside combat sound?
Take the controls of an AT-ST and pound the forest floor of Endor or hop on a speeder bike (finally!) and race through the flora at breakneck speeds. Even those smelly Tauntauns make an appearance on that chunk of ice called Hoth - just don't slice them open until you've gotten where you need to go. You'll even run missions afoot as Luke, Han and Wedge similar to what we saw in SW: Clone Wars, LucasArts' Prequel title. With a wide variety gameplay challenges in and out of classic Star Wars vehicles, it looks like the Rogue series has a new lease on life.
As with the other Rogue Squadron games, one of the best features is being able to play through some your favorite events from the movies. In addition to the ever-popular Death Star trench run with tons of TIEs flying everywhere, I got a sneak peek at the groundside Battle of Endor. Manning the controls of an AT-ST, I not only had the power to blast other Walkers, but I was also able to set off rolling log traps and those nifty Walker head-smashing traps that the Ewoks are so fond of. I know everyone has it out for the furry little muppets, but you have to admit those forest traps were kind of sweet.
Another highlight of the Rogue Squadron series is its great presentation. The two previous games helped defined the power of their respective machines (Rogue Squadron on the N64, Rogue Leader on the GC), and I'm happy to say that Rebel Strike features graphics that will make gamers drool like a Gamorrean in an all-you-can-eat buffet line. Running on a new engine, Rebel Strike does justice to its predecessors with a blazing framerate and top-notch effects, and at times manages to look even better with some very impressive flame and particle effects. The game can handle many, many onscreen enemies at once, upping the ante of even its forbear. Hardcore geeks will also appreciate the HDTV Progressive Scan support and superior 5-channel Dolby sound.
The multi-player game has also gotten a facelift. Besides the advertised Endurance, Capture the Base and Dogfight options, you'll be able to co-op the entire campaign of Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader! If that doesn't say Star Wars love, I don't know what does.
So whether you're a Star Wars nerd trying to build your own stormtrooper armor or just an average Joe looking for a great action fix, set your sights on Rogue Squadron III: Rebel Strike, coming this Fall to the GameCube.