Rogue Squadron 2 Is Still Amazing 18 Years Later!

Updated : Jan 11, 2020 in Articles

Rogue Squadron 2 Is Still Amazing 18 Years Later!


Star Wars has a long history in the video
game space with a number of classic titles like Knights of the Old Republic and the Jedi
Knight Franchises. Fans of flight sims also got their fair share
of cool titles like X-Wing and Rogue Squadron. The latter title would go on to spawn one
of the best sequels and still unbeaten arcade flight sims set in the Star Wars universe
to date. I have recently been working on a new walkthrough
for the classic GameCube title Star Wars: Rogue Leader – Rogue Squadron 2 and I can’t
help but stand in awe of how well the game has stood the test of time over its 18-year
life. No new Star Wars flight titles to date have
captured what makes Rogue Squadron 2 so great: an approachable arcade flight sim that not
only nails the feeling of Star Wars but has fun missions, amazing graphics, and tight
controls. The year is 2001 and the Nintendo GameCube
has just launched with a slew of amazing titles. One of these key titles was Star Wars: Rogue
Leader – Rogue Squadron 2. When I picked up my GameCube on launch day,
Rogue Squadron 2 was the only game I wanted. I was so desperate to make sure I got my GameCube
and a copy of the game that I even refused to go to school until I had secured my purchase,
much to the frustrations of my parents. 10 AM finally came and our local Walmart opened
its doors and I was off to claim my prize. A few minutes later I was walking out of the
store with a new GameCube, copy of Rogue Squadron 2, and an inflatable GameCube chair that Walmart
was giving out to the first system buyers. That chair was an oddity but that sounds like
a video for another day! As I arrived at school I remember being so
enthralled with what awaited me that I am pretty sure I distracted a fair amount of
my classmates by talking about it. To further build my own hype I had even opened
my Rogue Squadron 2 game and taken the manual with me to school to read over when I wasn’t
paying attention to the teachers. I was and still am a really bad student… Eventually, the school day came to a close
and I could get home and finally, FINALLY, setup my GameCube and pop in Rogue Squadron
2. Immediately I am taking down Tie Fighters
outside the Death Star and flying down its trench to blow the station to kingdom come. The pure approachability and upgrades over
the previous 2 games released by the now-defunct/resurrected Factor 5, Rogue Squadron and Battle for Naboo,
were so apparent I couldn’t go back and play them for years. The cinematic presentation also helped make
you feel you were really part of these epic battles and contributing to the victory over
the Empire! Rogue Squadron 2 was so well done it became
the second best selling game of the GameCube’s launch behind Luigi’s Mansion. Rogue Squadron 2 would even go on to stay
one of the GameCube’s best selling games of all time at almost 2 million copies sold
worldwide. What makes Rogue Squadron 2 an even more impressive
success story was that the entire game was practically built in under a year! In the summer of 2000, Factor 5 was hard at
work on their amazing N64 title Star Wars: Battle for Naboo. Nintendo approached the studio to show off
its upcoming GameCube system and Factor 5 became one of the first studios to receive
prototype GameCube hardware. In a matter of 19 days, Factor 5 was able
to create an opening cutscene showcasing X-Wings approaching The Death Star and a demo level
of fighting Tie Fighters and Turbo Lasers on the Death Star’s surface. This demo level would later be repurposed
into the final games last unlockable bonus mission: Endurance. The Demo was showcased at Nintendo’s Space
World trade show on August 24-26, 2000 and was a huge highlight for the power of the
upcoming system. After Space World, the team would continue
work on Battle for Naboo and Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine, both of which would
release in the year 2000 on the N64. Now this is where the claim of “the game was
built in only 8 months” kinda gets a little murky; a small number of Factor 5’s art
team did continue to work on building models and art assets that would be used for the
final game’s release. Utilizing a number of sources, including Lucas
Film art archives and even toys, high-quality models of the Star Wars ships were made using
Maya. In December 2000 the core team at Factor 5
began planning the game’s engine with full production of the game starting in January
2001. With a release deadline set for that September
in order to be ready to launch alongside the GameCube, the Team at Factor 5 and a few Lucas
Arts employees would regularly work 6-7 days a week. Late into Rogue Squadron 2’s development,
Factor 5 went above and beyond and implemented Dolby Digital Surround utilizing Pro Logic
II. Because the Nintendo GameCube was licensing
Factor 5’s MusyX tools as part of its dev kit, the team was able to convince the powers
that be at Dolby that the GameCube would be able to deliver a true 5.1 audio experience. Rogue Squadron 2 would be the first of many
games to release using the Pro Logic II standard. But as we all know, the game was completed
in time to launch with the GameCube on November 18, 2001 and 15 year-old me was able to pick
it up and be blown away by what it had to offer. Despite the rushed development, Rogue Squadron
2 feels like a very polished and complete game. In total, there are 15 missions, with 10 main
story missions and 5 unlockable bonus missions. Unlike the original Rogue Squadron, missions
for the sequel would stick more closely to those of the movies with a few missions set
between the major battles. Missions were blended well between ground
and space battles, and seeing new things, like a mission’s appearance and mechanics
change depending on the time of day, were quite revolutionary for the time. Let us also not forget how cool it was that
killing turrets on a Star Destroyer in Razor Rendezvous would mean that there were fewer
turrets shooting at you in Vengeance on Kothlis either; amazing! Then there is the best Battle of Hoth ever
translated to video game form, though the floating rebel soldier does always make me
laugh. There were originally plans for some form
of multiplayer to be included with Rogue Squadron 2 but time constraints left it on the cutting
room floor. Factor 5 was also able to nail their formula
for level scoring in my mind. Rogue Squadron 2 was a tough game to get gold
medals on back in the day. Even this most recent playthrough where I
got them all had me replaying certain missions for hours to get that coveted gold. And no I am not even talking about Endurance
which is basically a 4 hour grind for gold. Rather, Death Star Escape where the ridiculous
accuracy requirement had me replay it nearly 60 times… The reward for finally getting them all though
is to have access to all of the game’s craft and an unlocked “Ace” mode difficulty
where enemies will realize they can lay down the trigger and cream you quick! The craft choices were also top-notch with
many fan favorites being playable, including Slave 1 and the Millenium Falcon. Or my personal favorite at the time the Naboo
Starfighter! The flying Buick also made its glorious return
by using a cheat code. I would play Rogue Squadron 2 often during
the days of the 6th generation of consoles and the quality of the game was virtually
unmatched within the generation. Shoot there were even plenty of PS3/360 games
I think looked worse than Rogue Squadron 2 thanks to its high-quality models and textures. Honestly, Rogue Squadron 2’s underlying
artwork is so well made that the only thing holding it back from looking like a modern
Star Wars title is it being stuck at 480P and a 4:3 aspect ratio. Thanks to the GameCube emulator Dolphin we
can bypass these limitations and really gain a further appreciation for just how much attention
and work was put into these assets. With HD texture packs you can increase the
base game’s fidelity even further! Star Wars games that have released since 2001
that feature flying have by and large been huge letdowns to me. The Starfighter series looked cartoony and
controlled horribly in comparison to Rogue Squadron 2. Battlefront 1 & 2 couldn’t match the scale,
fidelity or awesome controls of Rogue Squadron 2. EA’s Battlefront games have finally seemed
to bring the sense of scale back but controls and the sad fact you get no dedicated campaign
just for flight is unfortunate. I am glad to have those few moments in the
Battlefront 2 campaign though, and man is the game just gorgeous! Even Rogue Squadron 2’s direct sequel, Rogue
Squadron 3, implemented a slew of on-foot missions that felt dated and restrictive even
back in 2003. Sadly, this gem of a game is locked to only
the GameCube for the foreseeable future. A port of all 3 Rogue Squadron titles was
completed for the Wii a number of years ago but remains unreleased to this day due to
the original closure of Factor 5 back in 2009. Again, emulation is an option allowing you
to get the game on PC as long as you rip your own copy and have a computer strong enough
to emulate it. Thanks to all the hardware hacks and tricks
Factor 5 used to make Rogue Squadron 2, it remains to this day one of the toughest games
to emulate. There always could be hope though, as in 2017
Factor 5 was brought back from the dead, and then-President Julian Eggebrecht went on record
with IGN saying he would love to get that compilation released
on Switch. Since 2017 I have no idea what has happened
to the new Factor 5, but Julian has since joined Epic Games as Director of Online Technology
in their recently established Cologne, Germany Studio. If you couldn’t tell I have a huge love
for Rogue Squadron 2 and it might single-handedly be the reason that I am sitting here making
this video for you all to watch today. The game lead me to begin content creation,
which in turn had me join the ranks of GameTyrant. I would love to see it make a return in some
form someday. Whether that be the release of the previously
mentioned compilation or a new game in the series wouldn’t matter to me at this point,
I just want it! I would love to hear some of your memories
of the Rogue Squadron series, whether you played them back at release or have only just
discovered them. Leave a comment below!

9 Comments

  • I have some seriously fond memories playing this game in summer 2002 or 03 when I'd get tired of playing Sonic Adventure 2. God, I miss this genre of game. I know its doubtful but if there could be a Switch port or even more unlikely a RS4. There was supposed to be a Rouge Squadron on Wii but it hurts knowing I'll never play it.

  • Hard to believe that 18 years have passed since the release of Star Wars Rogue Squadron 2. The game stands tall among the Star Wars game franchises as being one of the best there is. Even today the game has yet to be surpassed by another Star Wars flight sim. Factor 5 were technical wizards of their day and what they crafted with Rogue Squadron 2 is nothing short of phenomenal. Honestly, if it weren't for the fact that the game was limited to 480P and a 4:3 aspect ratio it could still be mistaken for a game released today. I have a deep love for Rogue Squadron 2 and it is the key reason I am here today making YT videos in the first place. If you have yet to play this amazing title, find yourself a GameCube and go do so!

    If you don't own Rogue Squadron 2 here are some affiliate links to it on Amazon.

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  • The "Rogue Squadron" trilogy as a whole is amazing.

    I have a video request for you.

    Can you please compile and upload ALL the cutscenes from "Star Wars: Rogue Squadron II: Rogue Leader" (story progression cutscenes as well as mission failure cutscenes)?

  • The actual reason I bought my GameCube, the N64 prequel hooked me! I totally agree with you here, for me it's simply the best Star Wars game in existence. Even SW games of a different genre haven't delivered that EPIC feeling that this game did. And the controls were just sublime. Never bettered, will it ever be? Excellent review Ice!
    Ancient⭐

  • On launch day all the stores were sold out of Rogue Squadron 2 and Super Smash Bros Melee, so I played Luigi's Mansion until Christmas when my parents got me both the games I really wanted. Spent 10 hours in my room that day alternating between them. It was at that time my longest single play session.

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