Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game's re-release - We Are The Mighty
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Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Star Wars Republic Commando is often lauded as one of the best Star Wars video games of all time. It’s up there with the likes of Battlefront II (the 2005 version), Empire at War, and X-Wing. Developed and published by LucasArts for the Xbox and PC, Republic Commando put players in command of an elite squad of clone commandos. Using specialized skills and equipment, the commandos were tasked with special missions far beyond the capabilities of the average clone trooper and even the highly-skilled ARC troopers. With the game’s ported re-release for PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, and the expansion of the clone commando lore since the game’s 2005 initial release, let’s take a look at what makes clone commandos so unique and deadly.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
Delta Squad is one of the best-known commando teams (LucasArts)

Like all clones, commandos were based on the genetic template of the legendary bounty hunter, Jango Fett. However, unlike their rank and file brothers, the commandos were genetically engineered to be stronger, smarter, and deadlier while still remaining highly obedient to their Kaminoan cloners and Jedi commanders. This made them adept to the specialized training regimen that they were put through.

The water planet of Kamino is home to the aiwhas, winged whale-like creatures who hunted in pods. The Kaminoan cloners modeled the commando squad structure after the aiwhas, grouping them into squads of four and training them together from birth. They ate, slept, and trained together to think of themselves as part of a unit rather than an individual. Whereas standard clones were trained extensively with simulators to save on costs, commandos were more often trained with live fire to familiarize them with battlefield conditions.

Moreover, the commandos were trained by a group of 100 warriors, 75 of whom were Mandalorians, hand-picked by Jango Fett. Known as the Cuy’val Dar, “those who no longer exist” in the Mandalorian language, these warriors discarded their old lives to train the commandos in secret. This was necessary to hide the creation of the clone army from the rest of the galaxy.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
Operating as a team, commandos were nearly unstoppable (LucasArts)

With their enhanced genetics and Cuy’val Dar instructors, the commandos were trained on just about every weapon, vehicle, and piece of gear in the Republic arsenal. Their Katarn-class armor was expensive, extremely lightweight, and beat only by pure Mandalorian beskar in terms of strength. Commandos were exclusively armed with the DC-17m Interchangeable Weapon System which they could configure for the specific job at hand.

While every commando was cross-trained in combat disciplines, the members of a squad specialized in their respective roles like marksman, demolitions expert, tech specialist, and squad leader. Their helmets integrated with each other so that every commando knew the location and status of the others at all times. Operating as a team, commandos could take on nearly every mission that the Republic had for them.

Clone commandos were organized under the Grand Army of the Republic’s Special Operations Brigade. This was the GAR’s version of USSOCOM in the U.S. military. The aforementioned ARC troopers also fell under the Special Operations Brigade. Operating at the edge of what the Republic deemed morally acceptable, the commandos were tasked direct action, sabotage, and even assassination missions. With Jedi strike teams stretched thin during the Clone War, commando teams were often sent instead and were very successful. However, when used in conventional large-scale combat like at the first battle of Geonosis, the commandos were unable to use their skills to their advantage and suffered high casualties.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
On their own, commandos were still deadly on the battlefield (EA)

Without spoiling Republic Commando for gamers who have yet to play it, the game’s story follows Delta Squad. These four commandos can be seen in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars animated series. Following the attack on the Temple of Eedit by Savage Opress, Delta Squad is dispatched directly by the Jedi Council to recover the bodies of slain Jedi Master Halsey and his Padawan Knox. The fact that the council did not know what sort of threat had attacked the temple and killed a Jedi Master speaks volumes to the skills and abilities of the commandos and the confidence that their commanders had in them.

Following Order 66 and the rise of the Empire, some commandos ignored the order and defected from the army. Those that did often became bounty hunters. However, most commandos remained loyal to the Empire because of their genetic programming. They were reorganized as a special division of the 501st Legion and placed under the direct command of Darth Vader. These Imperial Commando teams were often tasked with hunting down enemies of the Empire, especially fugitive Jedi.

Commandos were some of the deadliest clones fielded by the GAR. With the expansion of the Star Wars universe, their popularity has grown thanks to the Clone Wars show and the Battlefront video game. If you didn’t have an Xbox or gaming PC and avoided watching playthroughs online, your chance to experience Republic Commando for yourself has come. The game’s enhanced port is set to release on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch on April 6, 2021.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
(LucasArts)
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The Air Force built one of the world’s fastest computers out of Playstations

When the Playstation 2 was first released to the public, it was said the computer inside was so powerful it could be used to launch nuclear weapons. It was a stunning comparison. In response, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein opted to try and buy up thousands of the gaming consoles – so much so the U.S. government had to impose export restrictions.

But it seems Saddam gave the Air Force an idea: building a supercomputer from many Playstations.


Just 10 years after Saddam Hussein tried to take over the world using thousands of gaming consoles, the United States Air Force took over the role of mad computer scientist and created the worlds 33rd fastest computer inside its own Air Force Research Laboratory. Only instead of Playstation 2, the Air Force used 1,760 Sony PlayStation 3 consoles. They called it the “Condor Cluster,” and it was the Department of Defense’s fastest computer.

The USAF put the computer in Rome, New York near Syracuse and intended to use the computer for radar enhancement, pattern recognition, satellite imagery processing, and artificial intelligence research for current and future Air Force projects and operations.

Processing imagery is the computer’s primary function, and it performs that function miraculously well. It can analyze ultra-high-resolution images very quickly, at a rate of billions of pixels per minute. But why use Playstation consoles instead of an actual computer or other proprietary technology? Because a Playstation cost 0 at the time and the latest and greatest tech in imagery processing would have run the USAF nearly ,000 per unit. Together, the Playstations formed the core of the computer for a cost of roughly million.

The result was a 500 TeraFLOPS Heterogeneous Cluster powered by PS3s but connected to subcluster heads of dual-quad Xeons with multiple GPGPUs. The video game consoles consumed 90 percent less energy than any alternative and building a special machine with more traditional components to create a processing center, the Air Force could have paid upwards of ten million dollars, and the system would not have been as energy-efficient.

It was the Playstation’s ability to install other operating systems that allowed for this cluster – and is what endangered the program.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

If only Saddam had lived to see this…

In 2010, Sony pushed a Playstation firmware update that revoked the device’s ability to install alternate operating systems, like the Linux OS the Air Force used in its supercomputer cluster. The Air Force unboxed hundreds of Playstations and then imaging each unit to run Linux only to have Sony run updates on them a few weeks later. The Air Force, of course, didn’t need the firmware update, nor could Sony force it on those devices. But if one of the USAF’s Playstations goes down, it would be the end of the cluster. Any device refurbished or newly purchased would lack the ability to run Linux.

The firmware update was the death knell for the supercomputer and others like it that had been produced by academic institutions. There was never any word on whether Saddam ever created his supercomputer.

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Why troops love playing fantasy games while deployed

Troops really do come from all walks of life. While the military has plenty of the jocks and popular kids, the nerdy kids also raised their right hand. But you’re a few months into a deployment now and everyone’s looking for something new to do.

The troops who were picked last in gym class are now playing football with the guys and the former football star is now working away on their first D&D character sheet. When you’re bored in the desert and see the other guys having fun — screw it. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of team building among the squad.


 

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Some of the more traditional tabletop games, like Dungeons and Dragons, can played anywhere you can find a pen, some paper, a few dice, and, if you’re lucky, a copy of the player’s handbook. Coincidentally, pen and paper is about all troops sometimes have while deployed and at least one person can get a set of dice sent out.

It’s not just Dungeons and Dragons that’s making an unironic comeback among hardened war fighters. Other tabletop classics, like Warhammer 40K and Warhammer Fantasy, are making a splash with troops. Sure, Warhammer runs a little on the pricey side and assembling and painting an army by hand will take months. Thankfully, cash and downtime are about the only two things troops have on a deployment.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
A few months and couple hundred dollars later and you get to just the “basic” level of play.
(Photo by Jesse Vauhkonen)

 

Even if the troops don’t want to nosedive into the deep end of nerdom, it’s not too uncommon for troops to be playing Risk (and not just until people get bored. This battle rages until someone wins, which may take a few days). Others are constantly fussing over their fantasy football team, which, let’s all be honest — and take this from the guy who extensively writes about Star Wars and Game of Thrones puts them a pair of BCGs away from joining the commo guys in playing DD.

Ranger Up even got in on the fun by livestreaming a campaign. Matt James, a U.S. Army veteran and game designer, was the Dungeon Master for Nick Palmisciano and the rest of the crew . They may have been kicked back a few more beers than they did when they played in the back of the AV club, but they — and everyone watching the stream — were having fun.

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‘Fortnite’ announces ‘The End’ as final season powers down

The final “Fortnite” season 10 event ended suddenly, with every player’s screen going black and showing a black hole graphic instead. As millions of gamers tuned in to streams and their own games, they suddenly lost the ability to login (the only action on the display is an “Exit” button), and the official “Fortnite” Twitter account tweeted “This is The End.”

It’s likely not the actual end of “Fortnite,” the wildly popular battle royale game that overtook the gaming community starting in 2017. Rather, the gameplay map that fans have used the past two years is likely going to be replaced with a new setting.


If the tweet wasn’t enough confirmation, “The End” was definitely a planned sequence by “Fortnite” creator Epic Games, as the “lobby” of the game showed a special galaxy collapse animation for those who were in it at the time of the server power-down.

Other players in the game saw the world collapse in front of them, and the “Fortnite” status menu showed the phrase “Anomaly Detected” for all its different features.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

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6 infantry tasks we hope to never see in video games

Let’s be honest with ourselves, if video games were to depict the average day for a grunt, they would be boring. Even if they showed field training, there are still a lot more tedious things going on than shooting guns and blowing things up. The reality is that in the modern era, military video games like Call of Duty or Battlefield lied to everyone about military life.

If you joined because you thought it would be fun based on a video game, you might feel robbed. You probably cleaned more floors than battlefields and you probably sprayed more window cleaner than bullets. Infantry life isn’t as exciting as you thought, is it?

There’s definitely a lot you do outside of combat that you hope will never make it into any video games because it does, it will be a terrible experience for everyone involved.


Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Digging the fighting holes will make you rage-quit.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. David Diggs)

Digging fighting holes

Easily at the top of the list. Can you imagine paying for a bad ass looking military shooter game just to end up spending half of it digging a hole to shoot from?

In real-life, it probably takes you ten hours because three hours in you discovered the world’s biggest rock and you spent the last seven hours using a tiny shovel to cut through it like it’s California in 1850 and you found some gold in that bad boy.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Press “F” to slightly bend your knees so you don’t pass out.

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jerrod Moore)

Formation

If you think un-skippable tutorials are bad, just be glad you don’t have to stand still for two hours waiting for your company Gunnery Sergeant try and figure out how to say, “To all who shall see these presents, greetings,” as if it was written in Hebrew.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Spades Simulator 19?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Staff Sgt. Joshua Jackson)

Standing-by

This is the life of a grunt: you spend most of your day sitting in your room waiting for someone to give you a task. Usually they end up telling you to clean something thirty minutes before you’re supposed to be cut loose for the day. And it will take you until Midnight.

Funny enough, video games are just one of many things to do while you stand-by so what would you do in a video game that had this?

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Imagine this scenario as the loading screen between missions.

(U.S Marine Corps Photo by Lance Cpl. Patrick Osino)

Weapon maintanence

To be fair, Far Cry 2 had a mechanic and you would have to clean your weapon periodically or it would jam on you. What we mean is going through a Call of Duty campaign and then the post-credit mission is to spend 14 hours at the armory cleaning everything because you just put the entirety of the Department of Defense’s ammunition store through it in a single go.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Before you can even go on a mission, you would have to do this for an entire week.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Stormy Mendez)

Annual training

Would you pay for a video game that forced you to spend at least 25% of your play time at the base theater listening to your chain of command lecture on different subjects that they’re vaguely qualified to speak on? Maybe that could be a downloadable content release that comes out after everyone stops playing it.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Imagine if every update just erased your swim qual data.

(U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Gunnery Sgt. Robert Brown)

Swim qualification

Part of the real-life tutorial is being taught survival swimming in boot camp but the military thinks after two years you’ll forget so they make you do it again. It’s like getting through that one water level you always hated (you know what we mean) just to do it again after a few missions.

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How Blizzard is putting the ‘war’ back in Warcraft

Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft is still going strong after nearly 14 years of being at the top of the video game world. One of the ways that Blizzard has maintained such success is by releasing a constant stream of new content for subscribers to enjoy. This trend continues with next week’s release of the game’s seventh expansion, World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth.

This time around, instead of focusing on fighting some giant, world-ending bad guy, the developers are taking a different approach and are returning to what made the game so beloved: the faction-based conflict between the Alliance of humans, dwarves, and night elves and the Horde of orcs, trolls, and undead.


Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Players had little idea that a simple choice between left side or right side would mean so much fourteen years down the road.

(Blizzard Entertainment)

The game has always drawn players in by carefully scaling a character’s level of badassery with the amount of time spent playing. Couple this enrapturing, eventual rise to power with the ever-looming threat of attack by the opposing faction and you’ve got a recipe for player investment. When players are invested in the game, they start to care about the world — and its well-being.

The last expansion, World of Warcraft: Legion, saw players putting an end to the series’ primary antagonist, Sargeras. The fight against such a massive threat required that the Horde and Alliance mend bad blood and work together (mostly) to fend off a universal danger.

With the major threats quelled, players are rejoicing as opposing factions can finally go back to killing each other — and things have started off with a bang. As a lead-up to the expansion’s release, the Horde burnt down the capital city of the night elves, Darnassus. In return, the Alliance laid siege to the undead capital, The Undercity.

Right now, players are taking part in said attacks, storming the battlefield as either the defenders or the attackers, depending on which faction you chose when making your character — an event that, for some, happened nearly 14 years ago.

The Alliance-versus-Horde aspect of the game has long been a fan favorite. A huge section of player base has always taken their faction identity to heart. In the older days of World of Warcraft, if you made an Alliance character on a server, that was it. If you wanted to try life on the Horde, you had to pick a new server and start all over.

Back in 2004, it wasn’t uncommon for a group of friends to be split over something as simple as deciding to play as a dwarf or a troll because it meant they couldn’t play together. These restrictions have since been loosened and many players have characters on both factions — but they’ll remain fiercely loyal to their first, arbitrary choice.

This is actually the heart of what makes the advertisements for the new expansion so funny. Moments like the one in the video below really do happen between World of Warcraft players.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

​My excuse is going to be “massive diarrhea to the point that I’d rather not risk seeing a doc.”

(Blizzard Entertainment)

It kind of goes without saying that the next expansion is heavily based on player-versus-player interactions. Players are highly encouraged to fight with their faction against their enemy and are given some pretty sweet in-game rewards for doing so. Ambush unsuspecting foes while they’re out exploring or take part in skirmishes in designated battlegrounds in the pursuit of honor — ‘honor’ here means both for the love of your faction and for literal ‘honor points.’

New to the expansion is the introduction of Warfronts, massive battlefields for which players fight to control. Victory means capturing a city that their faction retains until the next battle. There are also plenty of new zones filled brim with quests tailored specifically for your faction to help you reach the new max level, getting you ready to join the fight.

So, get ready to fight for your faction’s pride on Tuesday. Or, if you don’t play, get ready for some of your nerdy friends to sick call for a “totally valid” reason early next week.

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Breaking down where in nerdom the TALOS exo-suit belongs

Toiling away deep in the U.S. Army’s research and development arm of the Special Operations Command are the scientists crafting the Tactical Assault Light Operations Suit. It looks slick. It looks awesome. It looks like it’s going to change the battlefield in a big way.

The only problem with it is that when military journalists cover it, they see how it looks and immediately attribute it to some sci-fi universe by saying something like, “it’s a real-life Iron Man suit!” So, let’s take a closer look and determine where, exactly, within the broad horizon of nerdom this high-tech exo-suit belongs.


We weren’t exaggerating: Right off the bat, a comparison to Iron Man’s suit is invariably struck by nearly every single news outlet. To a degree, we can see why. The suit, officials have said, will be considered complete when it’s functional, bullet-proof, and weaponized.

Even Jim Geurtz of SOCOM jokingly told NPR that it’s “not at the Iron Man-flying-suit, you know, flying-at-50,000-feet level.” Since he’s developing the suit, he gets a pass on calling it an Iron Man suit — but a more apt comparison is a War Machine suit. Since the suit is not going to be powered by a nuclear fission reactor and fire lasers, it’s a better match with War Machine’s kinetic arsenal.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
If you give it to the Marines, they’ll probably spray paint a Punisher skull on it. Just watch.
(Punisher Vol 1. #218)

Though there’s no proof, we’re pretty sure the name TALOS is a backronym designed to share a name with the ancient Greek legend. In mythology, Talos is a bronze automaton said to have protected Crete from pirates and scoundrels (and is the God of Man in the Elder Scrolls universe, but that’s fantasy and not sci-fi). Coincidentally, Talos’ mythological job would fit it perfectly within the Boba Fett-inspired H&K AR500 suit. Looking at their helmet design, it’s obvious that they know full-well who they want it to look like.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
Even the NVGs flip down like Fett’s visor thingy. Fun Fact: That’s actually not an antennae on Boba Fett’s helmet.
(Lucasfilms Ltd.)

A comparison that the TALOS suit doesn’t get often enough is to the armor of Halo’s Space Marines. The design is strikingly similar to the armor worn by non-player characters in the series.

The suit was also once projected to be able to relay vital information to the wearer via a heads-up display. Command information could also be relayed to the user through their fancy set of glasses. The early designs weren’t too far off from the in-game version, but that was also back when they thought Google Glass was going to change the battlefield…

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
The guy in the prototype suit is showcasing it to au00a0dude drinking Mountain Dewu00a0u2014 seems fitting for some reason.
(Bungie Studios)

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Why this glitch in a popular video game is still being studied by biologists

Most experiments in which biologists — or, more accurately, epidemiologists — study how a disease spreads are done theoretically, involving only a pen and paper. They do their best to simulate the spread of various contagions and study outbreaks of the past, but nobody would dare spread a disease simply to study it.

In 2005, however, they were given the perfect test conditions and subjects: World of Warcraft players.


World of Warcraft is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game made by Blizzard Entertainment set in a fantasy realm called Azeroth. In September of 2005, a new “raid” encounter — an experience that required 20 players — opened up, called Zul’Gurub. This was, basically, an ancient city loosely based on Mayan culture that belonged to a savage tribe of Trolls.

When players finally fought the final boss, the Serpent God Hakkar, they would contract a temporary “debuff” (or weakness) called “Corrupted Blood” that would slowly drain their health before spreading to another player.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Once a player was infected, they’d have to wait out the sickness or die in the process. It wasn’t much more than a nuisance to high-level players, as they could simply heal themselves and continue fighting, hoping to pry an epic sword from the Serpent Lord’s cold corpse. But the in-game plague didn’t just affect players.

In the game, you play one of several different fantasy roles, including paladins, druids, rogues, and (most relevant to this scenario) hunters. Hunters specialized in taming beasts that would then fight in their name. If a hunter’s pet contracted Corrupted Blood, the player could “dismiss” their pet, making it effectively disappear. The next time that pet was called to help, however, it would still have the disease — and it would still spread to nearby characters.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
Just like what would happen with the swine flu, avian flu, and many others.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

Hunters of the world would (sometimes) inadvertently bring their infected pets back to large population hubs after completing the raid. There, they’d call forth their beast without realizing it was still infected. Then, the Corrupted Blood was transmitted to other players outside of the raid. This time, the infected players weren’t powerful heroes attempting to kill a god, but rather low-level noobies that would quickly die once affected by the plague, causing it to infect others.

This spread just like a real plague. Players, in search of safety, would evacuate large cities, bringing Corrupted Blood to outlying hamlets, just as with real plagues. Some players would knowingly infect themselves just to harass other players, akin to bio-terrorism.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
But this was less about spreading terror and more about having fun with your virtual enemies.
(Blizzard Entertainment)

It was fixed within a week and the game developers apologized for the bug (even though they intentionally recreated it a few years afterwards). But this was the perfect scenario that every epidemiologist dreams of recreating without risking their medical license.

Years after the virtual incident, many researchers published documents using information gathered from the digital plague. They tracked how animals that humans keep as pets might be the most prone to infecting others. They monitored how the disease spread through major population centers and how it traveled along pathways towards the outer reaches of the game. It even simulated surprisingly lifelike actions of bio-terrorists and how they can be dealt with.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
Contain and control is the key.
(Photo by Jerry Stillwagon)

All in all, it was a mild annoyance to the players but it gave the Center for Disease Control and many researchers a realistic and ethically-sound testing environment.

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Halo: Reach was one of the best video games about war

Despite the fan base not being filled to the brim with lovers of the game, Halo: Reach remains in the hearts of many of us gamers who dumped a considerable amount of time into the game itself. One thing that might stand out, especially for those of us in the veteran community, is how the game itself depicts war.

Halo: Reach was released nearly a decade this upcoming September, and this campaign still gets a lot of us excited. It had some good characters, each with unique qualities, and the story was amazing. The gameplay is another story, but what we’re focusing on here is the biggest thing that stood out: this game is about war.

Here’s why Halo: Reach was one of the best:


Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

You were also, for the first time, surrounded by other Spartans.

(Bungie)

Nerfed Spartan strength

Throughout the original Halo trilogy, you fight as Master Chief, the only Spartan in sight, which makes you an absolute force of nature on the battlefield. You’re essentially unstoppable, with your only purpose being to bring judgment down upon the Covenant that stands before you.

Reach took that and essentially made you just slightly weaker, but it was noticeable. Stronger than the average UNSC Marine but just on the same level as the best the Covenant has to offer. This made you feel more like you couldn’t just steamroll into battles, bringing death on a silver platter to the Covenant.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

There are plenty of shots in the game that show the planet’s destruction.

(Bungie)

Depicted a losing fight

Most of us who knew the lore of Reach before the game’s release knew it was a doomed mission. You were fighting a losing battle because the Covenant hits the planet’s under-manned military defenses with an all-out attack force with the intent to reap every last soul upon its surface. That didn’t stop you, though.

It really showed the tenacity that troops bring to the battlefield. Knowing you could lose doesn’t matter, you’ll fight to the death anyway and make the enemy work for every life they have to take – and suffer the consequences of taking it to begin with.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Prime example: Jorge.

(Bungie)

Showed the tremendous sacrifices that were made

One thing that the original trilogy doesn’t take much time to do is to show the sacrifices of individual soldiers. Reach absolutely does that. With Noble Team, you see each of the team members die in some way or another, a couple of them choosing to die so that others may live.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

Seeing mega cities like this getting torn apart was devastating.

(Bungie)

The devastation

Reach takes a lot of time to show us how destructive the Covenant is and the devastation of that destruction in context with what they do to the planet. Most of the other games you don’t get that sense, with Halo 3 being the obvious exception since part of it takes place on Earth.

But what we got in Reach was an entire game of trying to save a planet only to fail.

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Blizzard fans plan protests after company’s response to Blitzchung ban

After a week-long controversy and accusations of censorship, Blizzard Entertainment responded late Oct. 11, 2019, to say China did not influence its decision to ban a professional gamer from Hong Kong for supporting anti-China protests. But the gaming community has been reluctant to accept Blizzard’s latest explanation of the move, and many are still planning protests at the company’s upcoming conference, BlizzCon.

“Hearthstone” player Ng Wai Chung, better known as Blitzchung, wore a gas mask and called for the liberation of Hong Kong during a post-match interview at a Blizzard-sponsored event on Oct. 5, 2019. Blizzard initially responded by banning him from competition for one year, and saying that it would no longer work with the two commentators who conducted the interview.


The company said Blitzchung violated the rules of the competition by making political statements, and claimed that the statements damaged the company’s image by offending a portion of the public.

The punishment was harshly criticized by fans and U.S. lawmakers who accused the company of censoring free speech to protect its relationships in China, a massive and highly lucrative market with strict laws that require companies operating in the country to censor or remove content at the government’s request. Players threatened to boycott Blizzard’s games in response and a small group of Blizzard employees staged a walkout to show support for the protesters in Hong Kong.

After staying silent for several days, Blizzard Entertainment President J.Allen Brack pushed back against claims that Blizzard’s business in China influenced the company’s decision in a statement published Oct. 11, 2019. The company reduced the suspension of Blitzchung and the two commentators to six months and reinstated Blitzchung’s prize money, but Brack reiterated that Blitzchung had violated the rules of the competition.

“There is a consequence for taking the conversation away from the purpose of the event and disrupting or derailing the broadcast,” Brack wrote in a statement.

Blizzard’s reduced punishment didn’t do much to change public perception

Critics remain skeptical of Brack’s claim that China had no impact on Blizzard’s decision, and many suggested that Blizzard should have lifted its suspension of Blitzchung and the two competitors entirely.

Others accused Blizzard of trying to minimize its concession by making a statement on a Friday evening, a common tactic used to diminish negative press in a weekend news cycle. Former Blizzard producer Mark Kern said the company used the same strategy while he was working there.

Protesters upset with Blizzard’s lack of support for Hong Kong are planning to show up at the company’s annual fan convention, BlizzCon, on November 1. One group of protesters planned to form picket lines outside of the event and interrupt BlizzCon panel discussions with questions about Hong Kong. The same group is demanding that Blizzard make a public statement in support of Hong Kong, apologize and reverse the punishment, and create a special protest costume for the Chinese “Overwatch” character Mei.

Ultimately, Brack’s statement did little to change the perception of Blizzard’s punishment of Blitzchung, though the “Hearthstone” player said he accepted the company’s stance on the situation. Blizzard will have to wait and see if time will heal the company’s public perception, and hope the situation doesn’t escalate further with planned protests in the coming weeks.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY GAMING

The Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond Gallery drops players into history

With the release of EA’s Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, gamers have their first dedicated WWII virtual reality experience from a AAA studio. The game is the first release from the Medal of Honor franchise since Medal of Honor: Warfighter in 2012. Set in the European theater, Above and Beyond has players take on the role of an OSS agent fighting alongside the French Resistance against the Nazis in its single-player campaign. Played entirely in VR on either the Oculus Rift or Steam VR, Above and Beyond also includes traditional player vs. player competitive multiplayer and a survival mode. However, the game’s signature feature is its Gallery mode.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
(EA Games)

A longstanding inclusion with Medal of Honor games, the Gallery mode provides players with insight on the real-life soldiers and their stories that inspired the game. As players progress in the single-player story, documentaries in the Gallery are unlocked. “The goal of Medal of Honor is to be grounded and emotionally authentic. To be as true as we can to the people who actually fought in it and lived in it” said Peter Hirschmann, game director of Medal of Honor: Above and Beyond, “The goal is to tell and show as much truth as possible and let people get the tiniest of glimpses of what it must’ve been like.”

Hirschmann is no stranger to telling stories as he wrote and produced the groundbreaking original 1999 Medal of Honor game. He brought on board Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Anthony Giacchino to produce the Gallery mode. Giacchino, who is well-known for his WWII documentaries featured on The History Channel, sought to bring a human dimension to the game. Over 16 million Americans served in WWII. In 2019, the VA estimated that less than 390,000 were still alive and nearly 300 died every day. With the greatest generation fading away, Giacchino wanted, “for people to hear their stories before it’s too late.” Developer Respawn partnered with Honor Flight to bring WWII veterans to the locations of historic events that they took part in to conduct interviews.

In the Gallery mode, and through the power of VR, players will be able to sit next to these veterans and hear them tell their stories. They will walk alongside them on the battlefields that they fought through all those years ago. “It’s an amazing tool for transporting people into the stories that we’re telling,” Giacchino said of VR. “You’ll be able to go to Peenemünde where the V2 rocket program was, or Omaha Beach, parts of the world you’d otherwise never get to see.”

Above and Beyond offers players an engaging gaming experience, but an even more powerful and emotionally impactful story-telling experience. While new technology like VR will inevitably become antiquated and games like Above and Beyond difficult to play, its Gallery mode serves as a timeless historical record and testament to the veterans of the Second World War. Giacchino has confirmed that the team is working on a way to bring the Gallery mode to a wider and more mainstream audience without the need for a VR headset and gaming PC. “The Gallery will forever be the thing that lives on, a hundred years from now.”

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release
(EA Games)
MIGHTY GAMING

Here’s how the new Nintendo Switch Lite stacks up against the old Switch

Nintendo’s new version of the Nintendo Switch costs just $200, and it’s scheduled to arrive on Sep. 20, 2019.

The Nintendo Switch Lite, which was revealed on July 10, 2019, after months of rumors, is similar to the flagship $300 Nintendo Switch in many ways — and crucially different in a few ways.

Outside of price, here’s how the two Nintendo Switch versions stack up:


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(Nintendo)

1. The Nintendo Switch Lite costs 0 less because it’s a portable-only console.

The Nintendo Switch is named as such for its ability to switchbetween form factors.

You can take it on-the-go, as a handheld console! You can dock it at home and play games on your TV, as a home console! You can even prop it up on its built-in kickstand, detach the two gamepads, and play multiplayer games with a friend, as a standalone screen/console! Madness!

The Nintendo Switch Lite, however, isn’t quite so verstatile. It’s intended for one thing: Handheld gaming.

Like the Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, and Nintendo 3DS before it, the Nintendo Switch Lite is a portable game console. It runs the same games as the Nintendo Switch, but it can only be used as a portable game console.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

(Nintendo)

2. The Nintendo Switch Lite is smaller than the flagship Nintendo Switch, in both its body and screen sizes.

On the standard, 0 Nintendo Switch console, the touch screen is 6.2 inches. On the new Nintendo Switch Lite, the touch screen comes in at 5.5 inches.

Similarly, as seen above, the overall size of the Switch Lite’s body is shorter and skinnier than the standard Switch console.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

(Nintendo)

3. The Joy-Con gamepads don’t detach from the Switch Lite.

Another major selling point of the original Nintendo Switch console was its removable gamepads — the so-called “Joy-Con” controllers. A single Nintendo Switch console, with Joy-Cons, is a two-player standalone gaming system! Pretty incredible!

But the Nintendo Switch Lite is a handheld console, intended for a single person to use it as a handheld console. Thus, the Joy-Cons are built directly into the hardware.

Notably, you can pair various other Switch controllers to the Switch Lite — the Joy-Cons, for instance, or the Switch Pro Controller — which is handy if you still want to play multiplayer games like “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” on the itty-bitty screen.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

(Nintendo)

4. The d-pad is an actual d-pad now.

For many, the version of a d-pad on the left Joy-Con was an abomination. Four directional buttons? Instead of a connected d-pad? What?!

The Nintendo Switch Lite solves that issue by putting in a standard d-pad.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

(Nintendo)

5. The battery life is a little better on the Switch Lite.

Are you looking for a whopping half hour increase in battery life? You’ve come to the right place: The Switch Lite is exactly that. Instead of a maximum of 6.5 hours (like the original Switch), the Nintendo Switch Lite has a maximum of 7 hours.

As always, though, battery life will differ based on the game you’re playing: Games with intense graphical needs will chew through your battery faster, as will playing games online. So if you’re playing “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” online with the brightness up, your mileage will very likely vary.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

(Nintendo)

6. The Switch Lite comes in three colors: Yellow, Grey, and Turquoise.

The standard Nintendo Switch has a few different color options based primarily around swapping Joy-Cons of various colors, but the Nintendo Switch Lite is going all-in on color choice.

In addition to the three seen above — the standard colors that the Switch Lite will be offfered in — expect special editions, like the “Pokémon” one that arrives this November with the new game “Pokémon Sword Shield.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Soldiers can now serve their country…playing video games

Over 6,500 soldiers are already hoping to be part of a new Army esports team that will compete in video game tournaments nationwide in an effort to attract potential recruits.

“It’s essentially connecting America to its Army through the passion of the gaming community,” said Sgt. 1st Class Christopher Jones, NCO-in-charge of the budding team.


About 30 soldiers are expected to be picked for the team and some of the first positions could be filled summer 2019. Only active-duty and Reserve soldiers are currently allowed to apply.

Those chosen will be assigned to the Marketing and Engagement Brigade for three years at Fort Knox, Kentucky, where the Army Recruiting Command is headquartered.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

More than 6,500 Soldiers have already applied to join the Army esports team, which was created to boost recruiting efforts in the gaming community.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

While they will not become recruiters, team members will receive a crash course on Army enlistment programs to answer questions from those interested in learning about the service.

Once built up, the team will fall under an outreach company that will also include an Army rock band and a functional fitness team.

Not everyone on the team will compete. Those who will may train up to six hours per day on video games, Jones said, adding that gameplay sessions would be live streamed or recorded for spectators to watch.

Esports has ballooned in popularity in recent years with millions of followers.

In August 2018, the Washington Post reported that esports could generate about 5 million in revenue this year in North America. In 2017, a major esports tournament in China also drew a peak of more than 106 million viewers — roughly the same number of those who watched 2018’s Super Bowl.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

“It’s something really new and it’s been gaining a lot of steam,” Jones said.

While on the team, soldiers will still conduct physical training, weapons qualifications and other responsibilities that come with being a soldier. They will also have to maintain certifications in their military occupational specialty.

“Outside of that, there will be esports training,” Jones said. “So whatever game they’re playing in, they’ll not only be playing it, but be coached in it to get better.”

The team, he said, shares a similar concept to that of other Army competitive teams that continually train, such as the Golden Knights parachute team, World Class Athlete Program and Army Marksmanship Unit.

“Esports is like traditional sports,” he said. “Nobody can just walk in and expect to play at a competitive level.”

The Army, he said, already has talented gamers out there who can compete in events.

in January 2019, a few soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community.

Everything you need to know about Republic Commandos before the game’s re-release

A few Soldiers competed at PAX South in San Antonio as a way to introduce Army esports to the greater gamer community Jan. 18-20, 2019.

(Photo by Staff Sgt. Ryan Meaux)

In one of the events, a Street Fighter V tournament, two soldiers placed first and second.

“This is the perfect opportunity to showcase not only to the Army, but to the civilian populace and the esports industry that we also have what it takes,” Jones said of the events.

Recruiters from the San Antonio Recruiting Battalion also joined them and were able to generate some leads with potential recruits, he added.

There are plans to do the same at the PAX East exposition in Boston in late March 2019.

As a gamer and a recruiter himself, Jones said the team can help bridge the civilian-military gap by breaking down misconceptions some young people may have about the Army.

Being able to play their favorite video games with others who share the same passion is also a bonus.

“For a lot of soldiers, to include myself, it’s like a dream come true,” Jones said. “This is just one of those ways we can start the conversation.”

This article originally appeared on the United States Army. Follow @USArmy on Twitter.

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