Anyone who has played Rogue Squadron on the N64 will feel at home with the game play and controls. The mission based game play and the medal system is just the same as the N64 version. When starting the game you will go to a mission briefing room, here you will select your mission.
The first two missions available are; Tatooine training or the Death Star attack. It's not hard to guess what every Star Wars fan is going to select, like so many other people I couldn't wait to fly the X-Wing in an attempt to take out the Death Star. Then it happened, I went into a state of shock, dribbling all over my lovely new GameCube controller. This game is just like being in the film, it's absolutely awesome, the visuals are virtually the same quality as the film and the sounds are exact replicas of those used in the film.
As the levels progress, you will pilot a number of different craft including, the X-Wing, Y-Wing, Snowspeeder, A-Wing, B-Wing, plus the sexiest of all space craft the Millennium Falcon. As if that's not enough there are more craft hidden and waiting to be unlocked.
Each mission brief will tell you your main objectives. Should you not complete all the objectives you will fail the mission. When you complete a mission you "may" be awarded gold, silver or bronze medal. When you win a medal you will also gain points, these point can be used to unlock bonus missions. The bronze medal is reasonably easy to earn, the gold medal does take a serious amount of effort though.
As you progress through the game you can replay the previous levels, only this time you can use different ships. This can help you when it comes to earning the better medals.
The controls for the games work well. The analogue stick moves the craft up/down and left/right. The L and R triggers accelerate and slow down the craft. The Z button is used of barrel rolls and tilting the ship on its side.
The weapons are fired with the A and B buttons. The A button fires the primary weapon, which is a laser blaster (of some sort). The B button fires the secondary weapon. This depends on what ship you are piloting. If you flying the X-Wing the B button will fire the Proton Torpedoes, in the Y-Wing it will fire two secondary weapons, ion cannon (Keep the B button pressed to charge) and the proton bombs (Press once for the target cross hair and once again to drop the bomb).
The X button shifts the cockpit view (outside view or inside view). The C stick enables you to look around while in flight. (The craft cockpits look fantastic).
The Y button brings up the targeting computer. This is great if you can't see your targets, it will highlight everything in yellow that needs to be destroyed. This is a great addition, but you do sometimes need a double-jointed thumb to operate both the targeting computer and the secondary weapon. This is easy to use when using the primary weapon, but far more difficult with the secondary weapon. Finally the D pad allows you to give your wing mates orders. For example you can get them to take out the Tie Fighter while you take care of the main objectives. It also will give you R2 unit orders if your ship has had a battering, although, there are only a couple of ships which accommodate the R2 unit.
As I mentioned before, the look and sound of this game are just brilliant. For example the artwork on the ships is breathtaking. The ships look like they have seen some action in the past with faded colours and some nice battle scares. The cockpits are also amazing, use the C stick and have a look round the X-Wing and memories will come flooding back from the first Star Wars.
The attention to detail doesn't finish there though. The fog effects are solid as you have ever seen. When flying down the trench of the Death Star you will notice the reflections/lighting effects from the lasers down the trench are perfect. You can even see people running along the ground on the battle of Hoth stage, the whole look of the game is a massive achievement. The one question you will be asking is "what happens to the frame rate when all of this eye candy is flying around on the screen"? The answer is, the frame rate does occasionally drop from the 60 fps, but it's very slight and it won't hinder you progress.
The sound of Rogue Squadron is also bloody marvellous. The fighter and blaster sounds are faithfully recreated. If you have Dolby Surround Pro Logic you will be engulfed into the game from the start. Plus the actor Denis Lawson who featured in the films as Wedge Antilles provides the in game voice. The music consists of both the music from the film and original pieces of music for the game. This all seamlessly blends in on the fly.
Rouge Squadron II displays many great features which all stand up on their own, these features all come together in complete harmony to provide a mind blowing experience. Rouge Squadron II oozes quality, Factor 5 have done a fantastic job of this game, just about everything is perfect and very highly polished. You may find the game short after finishing it, but you have to earn enough points to unlock all the bonus levels plus, to get those gold medals will take you a long time, you will have to experiment with all the extra ships available for all the levels in order to finish the game in full.
This is THE GameCube game to own and don't forget it's a launch title. Just imagine what Factor 5 could achieve after they have had some time and experience programming for the GameCube. This is a must buy for anyone who owns a GameCube. If you don't own a GameCube this could be reason enough to buy one.