Rebel Assault was a CD-ROM showcase title for Lucasarts, making use of full motion video in both cutscenes and gameplay sections. It is essentially an on-rails shooter in that the player's only means of interaction are pointing and shooting (either with a joystick or mouse), and the occasional branching path selection. An arcade experience is clearly what was intended, as opposed to the more sim-like aspects of the X-Wing series.
The CD-ROM format also meant that the game could make use of music and sounds from the Star Wars movies to a much larger degree.
The story is original, blending elements from Episode IV and Episode V. The player character is named Rookie One. Rookie One is somewhat analgous to Luke Skywalker, though the story is build around various set pieces from the films. For example, the player Pilots a Snowspeeder on Hoth, helping defend the base against Imperial Walkers (a la Empire Strikes back) but the game ends with the Death Star confrontation from A New Hope.