PS2 REVIEW: ROGUE TROOPER

Unless you're a die-hard fan, you might find Rogue Trooper a little underwhelming. by Lee Patrick

June 9, 2006 - Based on a Heavy Metal-inspired comic series by writer and artist Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons respectively, Rogue Trooper, is now a playable and quite enjoyable videogame. This third-person shooter is bargain priced and as such there are some flaws that must be endured, but as the saying goes, you get what you pay for – but that will depend on your perspective.

Rogue Trooper is a relatively short game and while I might be a little disappointed if this were a full-priced game, I commend the developers for keeping it short and sweet. Too many games are padded with fetch quests, inane puzzles, repetitious combat and numerous other bits of filler to give the perception of value. I would rather have four hours of solid entertainment than 16 hours of rehash, and I’m sure I speak for many gamers out there – at least the ones that know when they’re being had. While Rogue Trooper has its flaws, at the very least it leaves you wanting more. There is a four-player online component but it’s limited to two modes, and a decided lack of online participants. The local two-player co-op mode virtually makes up for the lack of online players. There might be a glut of new online players as the game gets more recognition but like the 2000AD and British Comics that spawned Rogue Trooper, we’re stuck cultivating cultists in cult culture.

Rogue is the name of a genetically modified soldier. He’s basically a mutant, designed to withstand the poisonous atmosphere that pervades Nu Earth, our once thriving planet that has been turned into a toxic wasteland by all of the chemicals deployed during the great, relentless war. The Souths and the Norts have been involved in a horrific battle for eons. Rogue has been cloned to support the South but he’s got a mind of his own that makes him loyal to his teammates and ultimately to himself. His teammates have all been programmed with special, unique skills that make them a highly flexible and formidable squad. In the event that his teammates are killed, Rogue can collect their bio-computer chips which have their skills coded on them and use them to become a one-man army.

At one point, Rogue and his team have been betrayed by a higher ranking officer and find themselves at the mercy of the ruthless Nords that murder the three members of Rogue’s squad. Rogue manages to save his life and at the same time collect the bio-chips of his fallen comrades by graphically cutting into their skulls with a knife. With these newfound skills and strengths he has decided to make things personal. He’s not only out to win a war, he’s determined to exact revenge.

Gunner’s bio-chip made him the weapons expert. With his chip inserted into Rogue’s gun, Rogue is able to shoot with a greater degree of accuracy and can also use the gun as automatic turret. You will also receive hints and tips as to which are the most effective weapons to use for certain situations. The Bagman’s chip is inserted into Rogues’ inventory where ammo, health packs and weapon upgrades can be manufactured out of the salvage from dead enemies and machines found on the battlefield. Finally, the soldier in charge of technology, Helm, has his chip inserted into Rogue’s helmet where he will be able to unlock doors, decipher codes, hack into computer systems and display the enemy’s position on a map through an advanced radar system.

The Nords are human and must wear protective gear such as respirators to fight in the dangerous environment of Nu Earth. Their outfits can be exploited as one of their most prominent weaknesses, although they are fairly easy to take care of from a long distance with the sniper rifle and some grenades. They can only withstand a couple of hits from any weapon that you select, and on the medium difficulty level the aiming system is forgiving allowing you to do plenty of running and gunning.

With running and gunning, tactical strategies, stealth and balls-to-the-wall action, the gameplay variety in Rogue Trooper is not only varied but cohesive. Everything seems to fit. The situations are realistic within the context of the storyline and there are no make-work scenarios. The missions may not be very complex, in fact they are very simple, for the most part as you make your way from one end of the level to the next. The gameplay very linear in nature but it doesn’t feel like it since these diverse gameplay elements occur in various random combinations throughout each level. You can’t be sure of what’s going to happen next and that’s the hallmark of a good game.

While the levels are linear there is one level in particular that is literally on rails. You are actually on a train that is traveling on rails. While onboard you are saddled with the duty of shooting down Nord planes in the air and Nord enemies that are attempting to board the train. Thanks to the accuracy of the targeting system this level is more fun than frustrating.

One particularly frustrating aspect is that you have to purchase your ammunition. Although you can carry some with you, and have more created by the Bagman, you can’t carry enough nor can the production keep up with the demand. During the heat of battle there is not one person on the face of the Earth that can possibly justify this feature. This is a self-imposed feature and not something that can be blamed on the game’s low budget. Things were going great until this situation reared its ugly head.

The control system allows for good targeting but movement is a little stiff and there are too many options attributed to the action button. These various moves aren’t used enough in the game for you to commit them to memory. Although some moves are automatic depending on the situation and placement of the character in relation to an object, at the very least there should be an onscreen menu to display the available options. Last but not least, changing weapons requires an annoying song and dance routine of accessing your inventory, cycling through your weapons with the D-pad, highlighting a weapon and then selecting it with another button. All these flaws only serve to bog the gameplay down – and there’s no good excuse for them to be in this game regardless of the budget price.

Graphically the game lacks personality. If you’re a fan of the comics you might enjoy the novelty of seeing your hero and some of the locations brought to life but comparatively speaking this looks like your typical generic videogame. Rogue is a blue-tinged mutant with a muscular build and unholy eyes, but in the game he reminds me of a cross between the Hulk and a Smurf. He’s more comical than terrifying. Fortunately the voiceacting is good and the story is intelligent.

For a budget title, things could certainly be a whole lot worse. It’s worth a rental at the least, and if you can find some online play then you might just want to consider purchasing it. It’s fun, challenging, captivating, diverse – and cheap.

Features:

  • Intense 3rd person action on the battlefields of Nu Earth.
  • Use Helm, Gunnar and Bagman, Rogue's fallen comrades, to bring about the maximum amount of destruction.
  • Truly freeform gameplay, incorporating an unlimited amount of routes and tactics with which to progress.
  • Surprise your enemies and execute dramatic Kill-Moves at close range.
  • Use the unique upgradeable abilities of your Bio-chipped equipment strategically to outwit your foes and set up colossal action sequences.
  • Sophisticated hierarchical enemy AI.
  • Intense split-screen and online multiplayer action.

By Lee Patrick
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Rogue Trooper (PS2)
2.8
Graphics
The graphics don’t have much personality. They aren’t as strong as the comic series.
3.2
Control
The targeting system is great but the other controls can be stiff, confusing and less refined.
4.0
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voiceacting, sound effects and music are very well done. Better than a lot of premium games.
3.5
Play Value
The two-player co-op mode is great but you might have a hard time finding some online gamers.
3.4
Overall Rating - Fair
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
System: Xbox (shown), PS2, PC
Dev: Rebellion
Pub: Eidos
Release: May 2006
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Lee

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best