As the Wii U’s launch is approaching and the leaked list of possible games is out, I’m going to take a look back at one launch game for Gamecube. Believe it or not, the Wii U and Gamecube share some similarities… but that’s for another topic. The Gamecube was released in November 2001 and there was a game that people wanted to play the most.

Developed by Factor 5, Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II was the game to buy at launch for the system. You have to remember that the Gamecube didn’t come out with a Mario game like the other consoles before it. It was a shocker; yet, it faded away as people saw the amazing graphics and gameplay of Rogue leader.

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Rogue Leader is based on the original trilogy of the Star Wars movies focusing on the most important and not so important battles that took place. Rogue Leader perfectly recreates the Star Wars universe like no other game before it. Fans and non-fans could play the most epic battles of the original trilogy in uncanny detail for the first time ever.

The past generation didn’t have any big innovations per se; graphics, was in a way, how to distinguish the consoles.

Graphically, Rogue Leader is amazing. Even more that 10 years after it was released, it still looks stunning to look at in progressive scan on your big HDTV. The story behind this game is incredible to be honest: It was made in under a year; yes you read that correctly, in under a year. That would usually translate to disaster in the world of video games but somehow Factor 5 managed to pull it off.
The game runs at 60FPS with bump mapping, self shadowing, dynamic lighting, millions of polygons etc… All of the impressive visual effects that were introduced in that generation of consoles are in Rogue Leader. It is still stunning to play a mission like the Battle Of Endor and see so many Tie fighters coming at you.

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It’s funny that even with cutting edge graphics, Rogue Leader’s gameplay is somewhat antiquated; it’s a 2001 game after all. Rogue Leader is an arcade space shooter at its core, and also you have “continues”. Perhaps some younger gamers don’t know what those are… They are basically “chances” that you have in order to complete a mission. If you fail to do so, it’s game over.

Overall, Rogue Leader’s gameplay is tight. The controls are responsive and the dogfights can get so intense that you think you really are in the Star Wars universe. The battles can get so hectic that it will be difficult to even see some of the enemies on screen. Thankfully, you have a targeting radar that highlights enemies that are simply too hard to see. Also it will highlight critical mission objectives, but there’s a catch: Every time you use it, it will decrease your chances of getting medals.

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Medals are the main currency of the game, with them you can unlock new missions and extra content. And speaking of extra content, Rogue Leader was state of the art when it came to extra content. There’s a “Making Of” documentary, sound test, art galleries, a trailer and even audio commentary by Factor 5 on every mission.

As you might expect, the soundtrack is full of iconic tunes by John Williams as well as not so great original MIDIs. This kind of hampers the sound experience a little bit, but still the sound experience is amazing as it also is in Dolby Pro-Logic II.

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As a launch title, Rogue Leader spoke volumes of what the Gamecube could do in terms of graphics. It was truly a next generation experience that still looks and sounds great even today.

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