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'Star Wars Rebellion' PC Game Review

Twenty years following 'Star Wars Rebellion's' release, I'll take my first look at the game.

By Caleb ShermanPublished 6 years ago 3 min read
Steam Powered Nuclear Spacecraft of the Past-Future

Amongst my many forays into strategy games and science-fiction universes, Star Wars has been a topic—much like Dune—which raises its head over and over again. Understandably so, Lucas Arts and Lucas Film produce such copious amounts of product that one might spend their lifetime enjoying and understanding it all. As such, it was with great pleasure that—when preparing to do a review series on games from 1998—I happened across Star Wars: Rebellion.

Rebellion isn't my first foray into grand strategy games, I've spent an enormous—some might say ridiculously so—amount of time in Sid Meier's Civilization V, Star Wars: Empire at War, and Sword of the Stars. Needless to say, I went into Rebellion quite confident in myself and certain I could power through whatever learning curves it featured...this was a mistake.

Now, with a little more than ten hours sunk into the game, I am fairly confident that the last thing you should do is dive headfirst into Rebellion. The game lacks the friendly interfaces, flashy graphics, and supportive tutorial systems of its younger brothers. However, that does not make Rebellion a "bad game." No, in fact, I'd argue that the complicated interactions and steep learning curve are exactly what separates and distinguishes Rebellion from its "competition."

At first glance at the above image, anyone with a lot of experience in galactic empire simulators will say, "Ah, a series of star systems to conquer, how mundane." In honesty, that is absolutely the first response you should have, as trusty C-3P0 introduces the concept as such in game. What he fails to explain is the immense amount of screen-swapping, resource management, key terminology, and time management players will have to master before even worrying about the sheer number of star systems "the enemy does not control."

There are systems upon systems within Rebellion that serve to keep the gameplay varied. One might approach the game as a diplomat, attempting to sway star system after star system using highly articulate hero units, the same player might return to the game a month later with every intention of raising the flags of war and assembling massive fleets of varied ships and troop transports loaded to the brim with ground forces. One might take the fairly efficient Civilizations tactic of storming the enemy early with the equivalent of Hunnic cavalry units in space, or one might spend hours in game using the Research and Development system to put the Empire's best and brightest into weapons development.

There is no correct way to play, except perhaps to play a mixture of every style of gameplay until you find such a perfect balance that you can strike out into competitive gameplay—an idea completely foreign to me. For myself, I spent a large amount of time on diplomacy missions, until, at last, imperial scouts rooted out and captured my rebel base. This was a sad day indeed.

An interesting concept within Rebellion is the establishment of the New Jedi Order using Luke Skywalker. While one might assume that Rebellion would play fairly close to the storyline of the movies, in actuality, this grand strategy game introduces some concepts that are a mite far-fetched in the grand Star Wars universe. In every play-through as the Rebel Alliance, young Skywalker will be called to Dagobah to train as a Jedi, following this, the Jedi Knight will gain the ability to detect Jedi potential in other hero units within the Alliance, and may even train these units to use the force. This creates an interesting cacophony of possibilities, as even Chewbacca and Han Solo might become members of the new order.

I must offer warning, with my high praise of this game, it is indefinitely not for everyone, if it were not for my intent to—at the very least—record five hours of gameplay for YouTube, I would never have returned to Star Wars: Rebellion following my second failed attempt to learn the ropes. As it is now, the game is a complex notion that plays at the back of my mind occasionally and on light ventures, I'll return to merely look at my possible empire.

star wars

About the Creator

Caleb Sherman

Twitch.tv streamer (Amnesia Duck), retro game enthusiast (don't ask me about Ataris though), lucky husband, and author.

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    Caleb ShermanWritten by Caleb Sherman

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