Based on a Heavy Metal-inspired comic series by writer and artist Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons (of Watchmen fame) respectively, Eidos Interactive’s Rogue Trooper is now a playable (and quite enjoyable) videogame in 2006. This third-person shooter comes at a bargain price, and as such there are some flaws that must be endured. But as the saying goes, you get what you pay for – depending on your perspective.
Short and Sweet
Rogue Trooper is relatively short, and while it might be a disappointment 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. Many gamers would rather have four hours of solid entertainment than 16 hours of rehash, and this game leans toward the entertaining end of the spectrum. 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 has a decided lack of online participants. Luckily 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 other British Comics that spawned Rogue Trooper, it may take some time to catch on in the rest of the world.
A Unique Story With Some Twists
Rogue is the name of the genetically modified soldier you play as. He’s basically a mutant, designed to withstand the poisonous atmosphere that pervades Nu Earth. Our once-thriving planet has been turned into a toxic wasteland by all of the chemicals deployed during the great, relentless war. The Southers and the Norts have been involved in a horrific battle for years. Rogue has been cloned to support the South, but he’s got a mind of his own, making him loyal to his teammates and ultimately 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 are betrayed by a higher-ranking officer and find themselves at the mercy of the ruthless Norts that murder the three members of Rogue’s previous squad. Rogue manages to save his life and collect the bio-chips of his fallen. With these newfound skills and strengths, he has decided to make things personal. He’s not only out to win a war, but also to exact revenge.
Upgrades for Your Soldier
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 an 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 Rogue’s 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.
Rogue Trooper’s Norts 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 the aiming system is forgiving on medium difficulty, allowing you to do plenty of running and gunning.
Good Variety for a Short Game
With said running and gunning, tactical strategies, stealth, and plenty of bombastic action, the gameplay variety in Rogue Trooper is varied while remaining cohesive. Everything seems to fit. The situations are realistic within the context of the storyline, and there are no scenarios that make you feel as though the time is being padded out. The missions may not be very complex, most of them actually being quite simple. For the most part, you just make your way from one end of the level to the next. The gameplay is very linear in nature but feels less so since these diverse gameplay elements occur in various combinations throughout each level. You can’t be sure of what’s going to happen next, a hallmark of good game design.
While all of Rogue Trooper’s levels are linear, there is one in particular that is actually on rails. You are literally on a train. While onboard, you are saddled with the duty of shooting down Nort planes in the air and Nort 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, and the production can’t seem to keep up with your demand. During the heat of battle, this can become quite a hindrance. To be fair, this is a feature of the game and not something that can be blamed on Rogue Trooper’s low budget.
A Versatile Control System
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, it would be nice to have 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.
Graphically, Rogue Trooper is functional but lacks in distinct 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. He’s more comical than terrifying. Fortunately, the voice acting is good and the story is intelligent.
For a budget title, things could certainly be a whole lot worse. Rogue Trooper is worth a rental at least, and if you can find some friends for online play then you might just want to consider purchasing it. It’s fun, challenging, captivating, diverse – and inexpensive.