Okay, tell me if any of this sounds familiar. There’s a beautiful planet being poisoned and ripped apart by warfare. How about if there are also genetically engineered blue-skinned humanoids? By now you’re probably thinking that I’m referring to the setting and plot of James Cameron’s latest film, Avatar, but I’m actually describing Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre. Don’t worry, the similarities between these two properties pretty much end there.
The events of Quartz Zone Massacre take place on the planet of Nu Earth, a once beautiful now incredibly toxic world. As the conflict between the warring factions of the Norts and Southers continued to rage, the planet became increasingly more inhospitable to humans. This resulted in the need for soldiers to wear suits and breathing apparatuses in order to continue fighting. The Southers eventually found a way around this problem by creating Genetic Infantrymen (G.I.); clone soldiers genetically engineered to be immune to every form of poison.
Unexpectedly, in their very first mission the G.I.s are completely massacred by the Norts, hence the game’s name. However, this loss isn’t due to the soldiers’ abilities but is the direct result of a betrayal by a treacherous Souther General. After witnessing the deaths of all of his fellow comrades, it is up to Rogue as the only G.I. survivor to seek out and kill the man responsible for the massacre.
If this story sounds familiar to you, there are at least a couple good reasons why. First, Rogue Trooper is based on a popular and long running comic book series with the same name. Rogue Trooper also made his first appearance in the 2000 A.D. comic, which is well known for another famous character, Judge Dredd. Second, even if you’ve never heard of these comics or had a chance to check them out, Quartz Zone Massacre came out over three years ago on the PS2 and Xbox when it was just simply titled Rogue Trooper. This game has the exact same story, missions, characters, and everything as its predecessor, with absolutely no new content to be had. So, if you’ve already played Rogue Trooper, there’s really no good reason for you to check out the Wii version of this game.
That being said, Rogue Trooper was a decent game three years ago, and if you haven’t already played it, Quartz Zone Massacre can still provide an interesting time today. The reason this title still somewhat holds up is because of some of the more intriguing things it does that you may not expect. As an example, take the game’s main characters. While you are only in direct control of Rogue, your helmet, rifle, and backpack all have chips taken from some of your fallen friends implanted in them. This allows these deceased characters to continue to talk with and help Rogue throughout the course of the game.
Helm, who is implanted in your helmet, is an expert at hacking door locks and computers as well as provides you with the ability to create a holographic version of yourself to distract enemies. Gunnar, located in your rifle, is a gun-happy fellow who also allows you to put your rifle down and have it act as a self-sufficient turret. Last, and probably the most important, is Bagman, who inhabits your backpack. Bagman takes all of the salvage (basically currency) that you find on dead enemies or in hidden piles scattered throughout levels and can turn it into ammunition, health packs, or even new weapons and upgrades.
These character’s abilities, along with the vast array of weaponry at your disposal, help to make Quartz Zone Massacre more than just your standard third-person shooter. However, all the fundamental conventions you’d expect are still here, such as being able to take cover behind objects by simply walking up to them. Where things get interesting, though, is in how you utilize all of the different tools you have access to. For instance, you can set your gun down, use your holographic decoy to draw a group of enemies’ attention while you walk around behind them, and then activate your gun as a turret and tear your enemies apart in the crossfire. You also have access to mines, which enemies can be lured into using your holographic self to help make quick work of otherwise deadly opposition. There really are a ton of options for inventive tactics in this game, as long as you take the time to think about your situation and how best to make use of your tools.
The only new thing that the Wii version of this title brings to the table is its use of motion controls. Unfortunately, at best these controls are a mixed bag, but more often than not, they prove to be a hindrance. Aiming is handled by pointing the Wii Remote at your enemies, while holding the Z trigger can also lock the camera onto nearby enemies to help steady your aim. This lock on feature rarely works well, often locking onto the wrong enemies. Hit detection is also often, pardon the pun, hit and miss. I’ve emptied entire clips into an enemy’s face and still not managed to take them out, while other times I’ve grazed a foe’s leg and killed them with one or two shots.
However, where the motion controls completely fail is when actual motions are required. When using a sniper rifle, you’ll need to twist the Wii Remote in order to zoom in and out. This is usually frustrating, as you will find yourself zooming in and out uncontrollably, even while holding the controller perfectly still, and not being able to zoom when twisting it completely on its side. Grenades are also extremely difficult to utilize properly due to inaccurate controls, but this time it’s because of the Nunchuk.
You can shake the Nunchuk to just lob a grenade in front of you, but if you wish to actually aim one, then you’re in for some frustration. First, you’ll need to tilt the Nunchuk so that it is pointing straight up, aim your tossing line using the analog stick and by pointing your Wii Remote, and then shake the Nunchuk to finally toss it. This seems pretty ridiculous to begin with, but when you factor in that the game constantly has difficulty registering the position of the Nunchuk, it quickly becomes infuriating. Also, if you can’t manage to make this asinine series of requirements happen quickly enough and you need to cancel the grenade throw, you’ll need to tilt the Nunchuk back to a horizontal position. Again, the game usually fails to recognize this, which normally just results in you lobbing the grenade at your feet.
In the end, I have to say that Rogue Trooper: Quartz Zone Massacre is still a decent game but very disappointing. The idea behind the game is intriguing, and the wide variety of tactics that are afforded to the player are great. Unfortunately, the only new thing the Wii version of this title got was motion control, which wind up being more of an impediment to the gameplay than a benefit. If you’re looking for a good third-person shooter on the Wii, your options are fairly limited, so you might want to check out Quartz Zone Massacre because it really has some decent ideas in it. For everybody else, I’d suggest looking elsewhere or even just picking up a copy of Rogue Trooper for the PS2 or Xbox.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.5 Graphics
You can tell this game is a last-gen port, but there are some nice explosions and water effects. 2.4 Control
The included motion controls rarely work well, often getting in the way during critical moments. 3.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The music and voice work are of good quality, although some characters’ dialogue can get a tad repetitious. 3.3
The campaign is fairly enjoyable if you can manage to cope with the iffy controls, peppered with a good amount of stealth, tactics, and even rail-shooting segments.
2.9 Overall Rating – Average
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.