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Videogames, movies make formidable mix with Gamecube''s ''Rogue Leader''

BY MATT GRANDSTAFF
Weekend
Published November 27, 2001

Over the years, it has been a known fact that videogames and movies do not mix well. In converting games to films, disaster has always ensued, as seen from films such as "Super Mario Bros.," "Double Dragon" and "Street Fighter." Flipping things around, the same can generally be said about movies being converted to games. From LJN"s poor offerings for the original Nintendo, which included "Jaws," "Back to the Future" and "Friday the 13th," to games based on films from this past summer such as "Shrek" (Xbox) and "The Mummy Returns" (Playstation 2), movie-based games have always sucked. But wait, these recent games are not our last hope there is another "Star Wars" game, LucasArts" "Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II" for Nintendo"s GameCube.

"Rogue Leader," the sequel to the 1998 Nintendo 64 hit "Rogue Squadron," once again takes you to a galaxy far, far away to battle the evil empire using all your favorite ships from the original "Star Wars" movies, including X-Wing Fighters and the Millennium Falcon. But unlike "Rogue Squadron," which had you go on various new missions for the Rebel Alliance, the levels of "Rogue Leader" provide more nostalgia, as gamers can partake in some classic moments from the original trilogy. Flying as either Luke Skywalker or his friend, Wedge Antilles, these levels include the final trench run from "Star Wars," the Battle of Hoth from "Empire Strikes Back" and the attack on the new Death Star from "Return of the Jedi." Each of these levels, along with original levels that fit perfectly into the storyline of the movie trilogy, reproduce the "Star Wars" experience perfectly.

The authenticity of "Rogue Leader" can be attributed mostly to the unbelievable graphics and sound the game boasts. Taking full advantage of Nintendo"s new system, the game"s combat scenes often look as good, if not better than the original movies. In fact, the power of GameCube allowed LucasArts to integrate actual clips from the films into the movie, including the special edition explosion of the Death Star.

As for the game"s sound, "Rogue Leader" is highlighted by CD-quality reproductions of John Williams" soundtrack for the three movies. Additionally the game gets an extra boost by having actual sound bites from the movie, including famous quotes by Harrison Ford (Han Solo), Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Tim Rose (Admiral Ackbar).

Slightly hampering the experience that is "Rogue Leader" is the game"s inconsistent play control. While the control is very responsive and the GameCube controller feels as if it was made for this game, there are a few frustrating aspects to the gameplay. First, the game features no lock on targeting. While it might appear that you are about to make a one and a million shot, your blaster fire consistently misses enemy Tie-Fighters.

Another annoying aspect of "Rogue Leader" is the difficulty it takes to keep up with enemy aircraft. Because of unpolished turning, oncoming enemies are usually lost after a fly by. Thankfully, you will not always have to rely on the force to track down enemies, as the game features the same targeting computer Luke, Wedge and Porkins use at the end of "Star Wars." This targeting device highlights enemies you need to take out.

While the overall experience of "Rogue Leader" is amazing, the game is on the short side. The game has just 10 missions, and in many instances you will beat a stage without really doing anything. The game does have good replay, however, as it includes a medal system, in which gamers are awarded bonus levels and ships for achieving goals.

Finally, LucasArts latest "Star Wars" game is not very original. Many of the levels, such as the Death Star battles and the Battle of Hoth have been seen on other Star Wars games, such as the "Super Star Wars" series on Super Nintendo, "Shadows of the Empire" on Nintendo 64 and also in the bonus stages of the original "Rogue Squadron." But like watching the movies over and over, playing the games never gets old. And for those whoown a GameCube, "Rogue Leader" is the must-have game to show off your new system.


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