Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire – Review

Occasionally, even though the first game in a series may be panned by critics, creators will get a second bite of the cherry. When this occurs, one would hope that the creators learn where they went wrong in the first instalment and remedy these mistakes to help ensure the success of the sequel. Alternatively, they could just ignore all feedback because, let’s face it, it has a trademarked brand name in the title and will therefore sell anyway.

Titlescreen (Screenshot taken by the author)

Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire is an action rail-shooter developed by Lucasart (Factor 5 for the PlayStation), and published by Lucasart. It was released 1995 for DOS/Windows, PlayStation and Mac OS. I chose to review the PC version.

Rail-shooters are fine, but at least sort out the jittery aiming! (Screenshot taken by the author)

Set after the destruction of the Death Star, you play as Rebel pilot Rookie One. After a series of mysterious disappearances, you are sent out on patrol near the planet Dreighton to investigate. Your party soon receive a distress call from a ship whose pilot explains that he has valuable information regarding a secret project that the Galactic Empire are hatching in order to destroy the Rebel Alliance once and for all. Sadly, the pilot carrying the information is killed before you can reach him and your party is then attacked by Tie Fighters.

These levels would have been better suited with a light gun (Screenshot taken by the author)

The gameplay is almost identical to Star Wars: Rebel Assault, in that there are three gameplay types. The first is a rail-shooter where, for the most part, the computer pilots your ship whilst you take control of the crosshair and try to shoot at the enemy. Occasionally, you will be called upon to steer when a flashing arrow appears, indicating that you need to press that direction on your joystick/control pad etc. The second sees you shoot at stormtroopers, killing a certain number before you can progress to the next screen. The third sees you take control of a ship/speeder, and you must fly through a course, again, with occasional flashing arrows showing the safest way through.

I found the controls jittery, and it is very difficult to determine depth perception (Screenshot taken by the author)

The intro to this game is awesome. It’s great to have the original music from the movies, and text giving a brief backstory to the game. The opening scene really pulls you in and gets you straight into the action. Sadly, James Earl Jones didn’t reprise his role as Darth Vader. The graphics and sound are good, just what you’d expect from any Star Wars game.

Sadly, that’s about as many positives as I can give this game. The issues that plagued the first game were not fixed for the sequel. The controls are still just as jittery and frustrating to use. Whenever you release control of the cross hair, it immediately centres, which is incredibly annoying when you are trying accurately shoot moving targets with a joystick/control pad. I even tried to turn the sensitivity of my control pad down to 0, which helped aiming a bit. Annoyingly, you cannot change the axis for the joypad during the game. It is easier to have the controls as up is up and down is down for the shooting scenes, but have down is up and up is down for the flying levels. I don’t know why, it just feels more intuitive that way.

I can’t understand why they didn’t learn from the first game. If you’re going to have a rail-shooter then a light gun or allowing the user to use a mouse makes more sense. Using a joytick etc. to aim is just too annoying and inaccurate. The issue with the flying levels is that it is difficult to distinguish depth perception. For the levels where you need to shoot and occasionally direct your ship, ensuring you don’t collide with asteroids or the side of the space stations, is the pits and doesn’t compare at all to Star Wars: Tie Fighter.

Did I complete the game?

No, I rage quit after Mission 3 – The Mining Tunnels as I was so fucked off with the jerky, shitty flying controls!

What the critics said:

GameSpot: “There’s also a serious gameplay problem in the vehicular levels. The controls are too loose and jittery, meaning that you have to constantly fidget with the directional pad just to fly in a straight line. This also makes it almost impossible to dodge obstacles in your path. An even larger flaw is that, even with that awful control, the game is still much too easy to vanquish – any average player should be able to rip through it in two or three hours. Overall 4.9/10.[1]

GameSpot: “Rebel Assault II’s fine musical score, well-written script, and decent acting will be enough to satisfy those seeking a worthwhile multimedia “experience,” but the limited gameplay will most likely send hard-core gamers running back to Tie Fighter. Overall 7.5/10.[2]

Next Generation: “…you aren’t playing a game. You’re watching a movie that requires you to move a stick around and press a button at certain points until you get to see more of the movie. Overall 2/5.[3]

My verdict:

Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2 – The Hidden Empire seems to be unsure just what type of game it is. It has no redeeming features that would make a gamer choose this game over say, Tie Fighter or Dark Forces, as they are superior in every way. Jittery controls and poor targeting just make for a frustrating game that is no fun. What makes this game worse than Star Wars: Rebel Assault , is that they clearly didn’t learn from their mistakes.

Rating:

What are your memories of Star Wars: Rebel Assault 2The Hidden Empire? I would love to hear your thoughts, and don’t for get to follow and subscribe so that you don’t miss my latest reviews! You can also find me on Instagram: @nicklovestogame.


[1]  Gamespot Staff, (May 2, 2000). ‘Rebel Assault II – Review’. GameSpot. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/rebel-assault-ii-review/1900-2549039/ Accessed 3rd September 2020).

[2] Gamespot Staff, (May 5, 2000). ‘Rebel Assault 2: The Hidden Empire – Review’. GameSpot. (https://www.gamespot.com/reviews/rebel-assault-ii-review/1900-2532726/ Accessed 3rd September 2020).

[3]  ‘The Empire Strikes Out – Rebel Assault II’. Next Generation. (March 1996). Issue 15:92. (https://archive.org/details/nextgen-issue-015/page/n91/mode/2up Accessed 3rd September 2020).

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