Name: Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire
Release Date (US): November 30th, 1996; 2002 (Greatest Hits)
Platform: PS1
Score: 40
Beat: May 16th, 2021
Written: May 17th, 2021

NOTE: THIS REVEIW IS SPECIFICALLY FOR THE PS1 VERSION. Star Wars: Rebel Assault II: The Hidden Empire was developed by Factor 5 and the second game in the Rebel Assault duology, released in the mid 90s. It was ported to the PS1 in 1996 and apparently got a Greatest Hits reprint in 2002 (that's the only reason why I can think of why 2002 would be on the back of my copy.) The game was positively received back then, but playing it nowadays is... not too great. Apparently the PC version doesn't work on newer OSs thanks to an uncapped framerate so I opted to play the PS1 version. It sounds like the PS1 version is better than the PC version anyway, featuring sharper graphics and 3D models for the ships instead of prerendered images, as well as controlling better, for the most part. The most notable part of this game is that in the filming of the FMV cutscenes, actual Original Trilogy props were used, such as the costumes. Also, its length is really short - I beat it in an hour and a half, and that includes troubles with my Disc 1 that resulted in me having to skip one of the missions. Thank goodness for the cheat codes, otherwise I would have had to restart on emulator. Not like that would have been a big deal, but whatever. One other notable thing about this game: This is the only PS1 game that I know of that does not work on Sony's PS1 emulator that the PSP and PS3 use. The cutscenes bug out and the actual levels are just black screens.

There are four types of missions in the game: third-person ship missions, first-person ship missions, third-person on-foot missions, and first-person on-foot missions. The ship missions almost feel like a prototype Rogue Squadron, which Factor 5 would go on to release in 1998 for the Nintendo 64. Moving and aiming in the third-person ship missions isn't too bad, it can be a bit hard to tell where you're shooting thanks to the lack of the crosshair and no other way to line up shots other than blindly shooting constantly, which to do you have to repeatedly press the X button. Aiming in the first-person ship missions can be quite a pain - the cursor moves way too slowly for how fast the camera is typically moving, leaving me to constantly miss what I wanted to shoot, which made the last segment of the last mission a total pain (the part where you have to shoot those two rows of red lights to disable the shield) and the mission where you pilot the Y-Wing in the asteroid field and have to shoot those turrets and the shield generators (which reminded me of Prisons of the Maw in Rogue Leader), the turrets almost always ripped me to shreds before I could shoot them all. Maybe I just suck at the game. I did manage to beat it though. The third-person on-foot missions are interesting. You are behind cover and you press a button to emerge from cover to shoot your enemies, then go behind cover. I found it best to leave cover, move the cursor to where the enemy will appear, then wait for them to do so, then leaving cover and mashing the X button until they died or I got shot. The first-person on-foot missions (of which there was only one, I believe. I played the game last night and I can't even remember... it went by so fast,) was fine, though I had problems with the game detecting my shots hitting the enemies, which led me to taking a lot of hits. This could have been an issue with the disc, I did not inspect disc 2, but considering the shape of disc 1, I wouldn't be too surprised if it was something like that.

The plot is simple enough. The Empire is developing TIE Phantoms, fighters equipped with cloaking devices, and the Rebellion devises a plot to take em out. So Rookie One, our protagonist, who is confirmed male in this game, sets out with his wingmates that never survive any missions to stop them. It's not going to win any awards, but it at least doesn't blatantly conflict with canon unlike Rebel Assault 1. In a rare moment of continuity in 90s Star Wars games, the TIE Phantom does not survive past the game as it would dramatically alter the movies if they existed. The music is just ripped from the movies, which isn't exactly a complaint as John Williams's score is fabulous, but I suppose this is just me in retrospect knowing the compositions Chris Huelsbeck would make for the Rogue Squadron trilogy. One very interesting revelation that I had while playing this game: the sounds that stormtroopers make when you shoot/kill them is the EXACT SAME as the sounds in Rebel Strike for the ground missions. Factor 5 really dug through the archive for that one.

There's not really else much to be said that I haven't already said. The game is worth a shot if you're interested in early Star Wars games, but otherwise, it's not all that remarkable. Unfortunately for me, Rebel Assault 1 was not ported to PS1, and I'm not about to buy a 3DO or a Sega CD + the game to play it, so I'd have to hope there's a way to actually play the PC version on Windows 10 if what I've heard about them is true.

-Hat Kid

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