For fans of the Star Wars universe, there can't be many greater thrills than the idea of commanding a fleet of X-Wings from the cockpit of the Millennium Falcon, or for those with a penchant for the darker side of life, a mass of TIE fighters from a hulking great Empire ship.
Star Wars: Battle for the Republic, then, should be getting a great number of you very, very excited, because it attempts to bring this thrill to the mobile format, giving you control over these magnificent machines – and more – as they fight to the John Williams-scored death.
Leaving aside the story (which you must know by now, so sufficed to say this takes place during Episode III), Star Wars: Battle for the Republic attempts to fit the suitably epic battles (that you're no doubt picturing) down to the small screen by making them turn-based and squished onto a grid, where each unit takes up a square.
Rather than getting a chance to move every unit you have during each and every turn, play proceeds literally unit by unit with your opponent, as you move and attack with a single craft each.
In each mission you need to either destroy enemy units or emplacements or protect one of your own from being blasted into nothingness by opposing forces. Attacking is done simply by moving your unit onto another, much like a game of chess.
In fact, this turns the game into more a puzzle challenge than a strategic one; the fact that your forces are positioned for you, by the AI, means you have little say over how you approach each level. To a certain degree, your success in the game rests on how well you can adapt to the situations the game places you in rather than masterminding a tactical triumph.
It's a more reactive than proactive approach, really.
Obviously this necessitates caution when it comes to deciding which unit to move, but the gameplay still unfolds at a fair old lick. However, this does also change the type of strategy, from more realistic battle tactics to something more like chess, which might not be the feel you're after from Star Wars.
Whether or not this is problem for you, something we'll all agree on is that the game's atmosphere is not really helped by the graphics. When one of your units attacks an enemy, there's a nice cut-scene animation of your craft swooping past the target, but on the main battle screen itself, units are generally represented by not much more than a blank space.
Granted, to keep the scale of the mosquito-like X-Wings next to an elephantine Star Destroyer is difficult – and it is a blank space with a coloured outline – but it's still pretty disappointing. Things do improve when the unit is a larger battlecruiser, where you are treated to a little ship graphic, but, as these ships are less numerous, it's not a great difference.
There is, of course, an obvious reason for behind this. If all the ships were to look the same size, much of the thrill of controlling one of the unwieldy beasts would be lost. But still, these slightly spartan-looking graphics don't exactly imbue the game with a personality that would get offered its own TV series.
This lack of space opera razzmatazz wouldn't be so noticeable if Battle for the Republic had been given a nice set of sound effects. After all, the classic blaster noise is almost as strong a Star Wars memory as a Stormtrooper's shiny white helmet. Unfortunately, there's no sound whatsoever in-game. All you get is the obligatory Star Wars theme when navigating the game's main menu, and even this is a truncated edit.
Still, what the game lacks in general presentation, it tries to make up with general Star Wars-themed content. Some of the X-wing and TIE fighter units are piloted by a famous character from the films, which give these units varying attack and defense bonuses and a little avatar. The more famous or major characters like Obi Wan or Count Dooku generally offer the best bonuses – a nice touch that increases a sense of involvement even for Star Wars novices.
You get the chance to play as both the good and bad guys, too. Although the main campaign mode focuses on quashing the rebel alliance, there's also a single battle mode where you can choose exactly the sort of battle you want to fight: an upstanding fight for justice or unashamed Empire bullying. If you've always fancied crushing the rebel scum, now's your chance.
Star Wars: Battle for the Republic is a game that might disappoint at first glance. The graphical quality isn't amazing, the sound simply isn't there, and the gameplay is perhaps not what might be expected from a strategy game, playing much more like a puzzle or board game. But given a little time it develops into a genuinely good, fast-paced game that is very well suited to the mobile format.