Man Down! Man Down!
So… sigh… I don’t know where to begin. Theoretically, the next-gen consoles provide at least a minimum level of value, a base level of production below which most gamers don’t expect their games to dip. I’ve witnessed some truly horrible things in gaming, over the years, and a lot of games have disappointed me, but nothing worse than the shrieking, flaming, meteorite-o-terrible that is Rogue Warrior.
I would have to review a few decades of gaming, but I feel fully comfortable issuing the following unqualified statement: Rogue Warrior is one of the worst games ever, and a crime against gamers and humanity in general. “But I’ve played the adventures of Rocky Balboa and Chester Cheetah in War for the Product Placement Movie-Tie In,” you might be thinking. “How could this possibly rank below that pitiful game?” Well, you cynical know-it-all, allow me to lower your expectations…
Out of respect for the great minds at Bethesda Softworks who brought us Fallout 3 and all its myriad expansions, I will try to be reserved. Although, to be frank, I am not sure how an industry giant with the pedigree Bethesda has can muster the stones to attach its name to a game like Rogue Warrior. For that matter, how did Mickey Rourke go from ‘The Wrestler’ to this? There is almost no redeeming quality in this game and I am including Achievements/Trophies (for those eager to boost their gamer score/collection). Considering the relative amount of barriers to having a game produced, it is a wonder that a bomb like this one drops in our laps. The entire crew and cast should be ashamed.
Rogue Warrior is an example of everything that’s wrong with video games today. It’s a pointless, violent drive-by through clichéd settings within a ludicrous plot, piloted by a main character that apparently has some undiagnosed form of super-Tourette’s syndrome. The gameplay is glitchy and unrefined, the story is weak and one-note, and the hero walks the line between offensive and ridiculous. Jack Thompson would be proud.
Set in Cold War era USSR and North Korea, Rogue Warrior tells the story of Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko, a badass, cigar smoking Navy Seal and a fly-by-the-seat of his bayonet ‘mission’ to stop a Soviet plot to build an anti-air missile defense in order to be able to bomb the USA and leave the States with zero retaliatory capabilities, or some such nonsense. At first, Richie and his two equally tough pals (we can tell they’re tough because one of his pals flips the other one off and they’re smoking on a transport-since they have no lines) drop into a random field and off a few North Koreans before a grenade wipes out everyone but Dick. Of course, Dick’s commander issues an immediate retreat order, but being the rough and tumble guy that he is, he ignores the order and proceeds to stab, choke, shoot, and grenade his way across the border solo and back to the States. Dick eloquently declines with a ‘f@%$ that!’ The idea itself is a laughable one, though I am told it is based on the real life adventures of Richard Marcinko, so go figure. I am pretty certain the three hours of Commie-killin’ would’ve earned Marcinko a dishonorable discharge at least.
Even with the true life tale of Marcinko and considerable dramatic gravitas of Rourke for inspiration, Rebellion manages to break away from any potential positives and under perform in every conceivable way. The story doesn’t promise much considering there are only three speaking characters and one has about four lines, but it delivers on less. Marcinko is the potty-mouthed protag of Rogue Warrior, and the use of out of place obscenities as the only character exposition device in the game makes this a very shallow story, with a character you will beg to forget. Dick comes off as a… well… let’s say a jerk. It’s this lack of a sincere effort that permeates every aspect of Rogue Warrior. Most of us have played games with thin stories before, or with characters we neither liked nor respected, but rarely both.
Graphics are not a real bright spot, either. The frame rate drops considerably when there are too many enemies, explosions, fire, or particle effects, etc. on screen. But, even the few palatable textures and effects available are clichéd, borrowed visuals from other games (environments) and are stunted by pop-in. I mean, after four or five decades of coding, you’d think the occasional missile silo, Russian soldier, and the omnipresent ‘docks level’ would be easy enough to run, especially with the power of the 360 or PS3 behind it. At this stage in the life of the industry, it is unacceptable for a game with eight stages and less than twelve weapons to have all the technical problems Rogue Warrior does.
This is where it gets interesting. I’ve read several other reviews of this game, and there seem to be issues that pop up almost individually based on the particular disc you play. While this is probably impossible I will say that I had several problems that I never read about in other reviews. The most troublesome of which I haven’t ever had playing a videogame before… EVER!
At several points in the game, I was using a sniper rifle to scope out enemies hiding behind crates and other warehouse flotsam, before attempting to switch to a machine gun to clean up. My weapon controls froze and I couldn’t switch them out, or fire, or at times even throw grenades. I was, of course, killed every time. It only happened three or four times, but it was super annoying. Even once is unacceptable. Four times is a worst game of the decade contender.
Gameplay innovation is non-existent and everything else follows the cookie-cutter FPS formula to a T, yet it still manages to bleed the fun out of every moment. Yeah, you’ll sneak up on hundreds of soldiers and snap a few necks, but… *yawn* why? AI is on again off again. At times, during obvious stealth segments, you can literally walk up to some enemies and shoot them in the face or stab them next to allies without even a passing glance. At other times, enemies seem preternaturally aware of your presence and a dead companion will send them on a hunt for your blood, making illogical twists and turns to patrol routes to find you. The whole experience feels cheap and canned and it provides absolutely zero payback for being a smart or conservative player.
Consider this: there aren’t an astounding number of Achievements/Trophies to be won, so it’s not even great for your gamer score. They are easy to achieve though, since most of them (Kill three guys with a grenade, Take twenty head shots, etc.) are more like obligatory gaming milestones. I earned most of them without trying with a single three hour playthrough (who would go back for more?). Good luck trying to get that ‘Host a multiplayer game’ or ‘Kill an ally’. Any friend you convince to play this game will likely never speak to you again afterwards.
The next time you are playing a terrible game and you think to yourself ‘this is awful’, please consider those unfortunate enough to have actually played through Rogue Warrior. To paraphrase a classic Futurama line ‘the only thing Rouge Warrior does better than other games is suck’. I wish this game would go hibernate in a deep, dark corner of the forest, emerging only to find food every few months until it was too fat to hunt on its own and was eventually and inevitably selected as the weakest of its herd and taken down with a few well placed buckshot rounds, dragged from its wooded home, and splayed on the hood of a Chevy pickup. It absolutely blows that much.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.0 Graphics
Even the better textures are dragged to the bottom by pop-in, and the sharp moments are few and far between. The North Korean and Russian armies have around three character models between them. 1.0 Control
Typical FPS controls, but they are glitchier than every other game you have ever played. 1.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
There are three speaking roles. Mickey Rourke’s character goes from offensive to unintentionally hysterical. 0.0 Play Value
Hmm… I suppose… Nah, there is none. 1.0 Overall Rating – Avoid
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.