Star Wars: Rebellion, the deepest space strategy game, with the most tedious UI experience, that you never played is now on GoG.com.
Beneath a shitty looking exterior, even moreso now than when it was originally released, lies the heart of Empire Strikes back: The Strategy Game
(and Return of the Jedi if you make it that far). Taking place after the destruction of the original Death Star, you play as either the newly confident, but still disparate Rebel Alliance, or the impossibly strong Galactic Empire, licking its wounds, but ready to marshal all of it's resources to stamp down Luke and co. forever.
As you take stock of your current situation, you will need to quickly consolidate what you have, grow your manufacturing infrastructure and defenses, and recruit a bevy of original trilogy (e.g. Lando, Boba Fett) and extended fiction characters (e.g. Thrawn) to form the backbone of your workforce. Who you send on a mission matters, and who you send to be decoys on that mission also matters. Characters need to be sent away on missions leading your fleets, researching new technologies in the arms race, keeping a system secure, secretly gathering intelligence, performing sabotage, abducting enemy personnel (assassination, if you're the Empire), inciting revolts or gaining popular support on one of a multitude of planets.
Every planet is a battleground. Support for your cause will sway depending on you and your enemy's actions. Defeat the opposing fleet and you will gain support. Wipe out an occupying force with no collateral damage and you'll gain even more. Everyone loves a winner. Diplomats are your key weapon here. If you lose too often, devote too few diplomats, or show too much brute force, could have you watching an entire system of planets domino into the enemy's hands. This includes too much overt use of the Death Star (yes) to obliterate entire planets. It turns out that nobody in the galaxy will love you for using that, but fear, FEAR will keep systems in line. Its mere presence is often enough, especially when you park it outside a wishy-washy planet. It's also a massive sitting duck that requires a lot of defense, so you better keep your eyes and ears open."He who knows when he can fight, and when he cannot, will be victorious." - Sun Tzu
The answer is intelligence. Information is key in Rebellion. Accurate intel will keep your precious Death Star alive. Up to date intel will allow you to put Boba Fett behind bars, or Lord Vader, or Mon Mothma, but you better bring a skilled team, and an army, and you better have the right INTEL. Careful sending Luke against Vader, just sayin'. You will succeed or fail on the amount you can gather and how fast you can refresh it. Always. Be. Espionaging. How will you know where the enemy fleet is, or where it's going, so you can maneuver your own fleet to defeat them? Intel. Anyone building a secret fortress in the outer rim? Intel. How will you know who the Empire has sent to counter your diplomacy on a crucial system, what they are trying to sabotage, or who they are attempting to assassinate? Intel. Where is that DAMN REBEL HQ, they never leave it on Yavin, where did they move it to?! Intel! It takes a long time to travel across the galaxy, you better be damned sure.
Unfortunately, this is where the game can induce carpal tunnel syndrome. "It dies the death of a thousand clicks", reviewed Gamespot back in the day. They were right, because you will be continually refreshing espionage missions and doing other tasks constantly. Did I mention Rebellion is real-time
? You can slow things down tremendously to a very manageable pace and speed them back up as needed, but you still have to keep on top of things as they happen, and there is a lot to do.
Despite this huge problem, Star Wars: Rebellion is a surprisingly satisfying and deep game. The space battles may look like pure early 3D butt, and even a little incomprehensible to control, but I assure you there is a legitimate layer of strategy and tactics beyond that ugly veneer. When you intercept a powerful enemy fleet that has been harrying you for 100s of days, stop them from warping out to safety with your shiny new Interdictor class star destroyer, and smash them completely, it'll be worth it.
On top of that, the heart and soul of the original Star Wars trilogy is alive in this game. Luke will leave to train with Yoda, Han can be frozen in carbonite if Boba Fett gets him, sending Luke to the same vicinity as Vader can go wrong for you, especially if they haven't met yet. The planets are there, the characters are there (plus a few more), the events are there, the ships and battles are there, the sounds and the music of Star Wars is all there. Ok, well they kind of got sound-a-like actors for major characters, but they're good enough. You'll probably get annoyed at fake Anthony Daniels constantly telling you that operatives are "reporting in
" or Han whining, "It wasn't my
fault!" when he fails, but that's the worst of it.
So yeah, Star Wars: Rebellion. Your hand may hurt, the pieces are slow to move, but you will remember what you love about the Original Trilogy within this game. When 200 days worth of planning and espionage comes together and you pluck that fucking smug Palpatine off his throne amidst an army of stormtroopers and defenses, you will fucking love it. Conversely, watching the Rebel HQ burn is quite nice too, but I'll let you decide which way to go.
I also dare you to try multiplayer, it's known as a friendship destroyer.