Sentimental Sunday: Star Wars Edition, Exploring Star Wars Rebellion
In the wake of the exciting announcements at Star Wars Celebration over the last few days, I've been inspired to take a look at one particular game that took up countless hours of my time. Certainly it was never very popular, but I did actually enjoy it then; Star Wars Rebellion. So how does this mediocre game stack up in the modern age?
Rebelling against the norm in Star Wars Rebellion
In 1998 Star Wars Rebellion was released to a mostly negative reception. It seems that there was a tremendous amount of criticism levied against it for the poor representation of the entire Star Wars universe. Balance was something else that was oft criticized, especially with a lack of control regarding ground battles. Tek Revue listed it as their ninth worst Star Wars Game ever, even.
Irregardless of what anyone else has said about Star Wars Rebellion, I still think that there's something that captures the imagination and provides for a great experience. It's a worthy purchase.
Back around 2000 my brother came home one afternoon having been out with family doing who knows what. But as he came into my room to bother me, he held in his hand a beat-up looking jewel case that said Star Wars Rebellion on it and had a nice view of the underside of a Star Destroyer. He knew I loved Star Wars, and when he saw this he bought it for me. It was one of the nicest gestures he's ever done.
I didn't play it for a few weeks, being the typical kid I didn't really think much of the game and reveled in the awesomeness that I already had laying around. I knew better, right? But when I did finally install the game and try it out, it surprised me. Not initially, of course, but it did become fun.
The scope and depth of the game is good, not great, but the setting and overall fun factor are fantastic. Add in the sound effects and the soundtrack from the franchise, and it's not so bad. It's not as deep as other 4X games with the level of control given, but that doesn't detract from having fun.
This play-through is much like my original experience. I didn't enjoy it at first, but after a time it began to grow on me. First of all, the entire galaxy was suddenly defined with names for all the habitable planets in the universe. That alone is exciting on a number of different levels by adding even more depth to an already fantastically brilliant universe. This was, after-all, released 7 years after the first foray into the Extended Universe, so the lore was just beginning to truly accumulate. And in a way, this was a repository of that knowledge.
Secondly, you could take control of the faction of your choice to expand and build in order to conquer the galaxy. You also get to interact with the main characters and send them on dangerous missions. Plus the 3D space battles were fantastic for their time. They still don't necessarily disappoint, but they're certainly not 4K either.
Starting up for the first time presents you with a galaxy map and your droid aide. The task at hand seems a bit daunting at first. How do you begin? What do you do first? Can I build another Deathstar? Well, not initially, but it's your choice on how to begin. Be mindful that it's easier to sway other planets to join by diplomacy than it is by planetary bombardment.
There's something satisfying about sending Darth Vader on a diplomatic mission, knowing that he's likely choking someone in order to get their planet to submit to the Empire. There are a great deal of diplomatic and subversive tools at your disposal in order to fight your opponent. From sabotaging to inciting riots.
Fantastically, Star Wars Rebellion works flawlessly on Windows 8.1. There were no technical issues whatsoever. The interface itself could use some work compared to modern, or even historical, games of this genre, but it's workable and when measured against itself it isn't so bad. Also, you can't control ground battles like you can space battles, but I think that the aim was to recreate the epic space battles as seen in the movies, and you can for the most part. It just takes awhile to build all those ships, but it can be done. So I don't necessarily think that the lack of animated ground battles is a negative, per se.
Overall, though, the experience is mostly positive for me. It was a lot of fun to not only relive those older memories, but to create new ones. After my initial skepticism, I relaxed into the rhythm and actually enjoyed it. Certainly it doesn't necessarily compare to the scope of more modern 4X titles, but it does still make for a great game.
My recommendation is that if you enjoy the 4X genre and you enjoy Star Wars, then why not give Star Wars Rebellion a try. But only do so cautiously and don't expect a modern experience by any means. Because you won't get that. What you will get, however, is a nice time.