Rogue Trooper Redux Review
Disclaimer: PC Aficionado was provided with a code for the purpose of this review. All thought and opinions expressed in the review are the writers own and are not influenced by the developer and/or publisher in anyway.
There is no reload button in this game. You have to wait for the game to decide to reload for you, which it does about as reliably as it does everything else. That may seem like an abrupt way to start a review, but it is emblematic of the time capsule of antiquated console-shooter set-piece design this game spawns from. Rogue Trooper Redux is a third person shooter based on the British Comic Strip of the same name. Released in 2006 on the PS2, Xbox Original, and Microsoft Windows, it’s developers have given it the HD remaster that all the cool cult games are getting nowadays. Unfortunately however, a fresh coat of blue paint can’t protect even a genetically modified soldier from the passage of time, and boy has it passed.
Rogue Trooper starts by quickly pushing the player through the basic story beats. There is an ongoing war over a toxic planet called Nu-Earth between two groups – the Norts and the Southers. You and the rest of your G.I. Smurfs are known as the Genetic Infantry, a lab grown set of super soldiers created by the Southers to be able to survive the planet’s toxins without any protective gear. The creation of this army was a secret meant to be deployed as a surprise attack on the Norts, but someone Southside betrayed their home team, which resulted in an almost genocide of these soldiers. Your character, Rogue, assumed to be the last of these troopers, goes AWOL shortly after landing and spends the rest of the game trying to kill the aforementioned traitor, collecting your squad along the way.
When I say collecting your squad, I don’t mean that this is a squad based third person shooter – one of the innate traits of these soldiers is that their mind and entire being is stored on a computer chip, and this chip can be ripped out of a body Far Cry 4 animal-skinning style and slotted into their military equipment, where the soldier now maintains his personality but also controls your equipment for you. All of Rogue’s squadmates are conveniently on the edge of dying right when he shows up to save them, and there is exactly enough of them to slot into all of his military equipment.
The story is not worth mentioning. It can be almost lovably corny in the beginning and with some of the one liners, but is really only there to drag you from one shooting gallery to the next. So how’s the shooting gallery?
Even for PS2 this would have been serviceable at best. 2005 had Resident Evil 4, and Rogue Trooper itself was only a few months away from the first Gears of War. While I try to judge a game on it’s contemporaries as little as possible, I can’t ignore that even not comparing it to third person shooting pioneers, this game falls short. Not just of the standards of this generation, but it’s own.
For starters, the game is a third person shooter in an old school sense – you are meant to run and gun, and cover is meant to be used strategically in some situations when you can use it as opposed to the default position ala most modern third person shooters. Now this doesn’t really work quite well when the game has hitscan weapons you can’t dodge, but even if that wasn’t the case it would be no excuse for the cover system to be as clunky as it is. There is no dedicated cover button – to take cover, you have to nudge into a wall until it clicks with Rogue what you are trying to do. Rogue’s learning speed varies depending on a set of factors I still have not fully figured out – sometimes he grasps the idea of cover immediately, sometimes not at all, and sometimes he gets cocky and acts one step ahead of me, grabbing cover I hadn’t even thought to ask him to nudge into yet. When you are finally in cover, it can be a chore to get him to poke out of it the right way without shooting at the wall you are taking cover on, if not the myriad of large invisible hitboxes of other objects standing between you and your target.
The other gameplay elements are only slightly more functional. The mouse sensitivity on this game is terrible – even with the maximum horizontal sensitivity, movement was slower than the default cursor speed on a Mac Mini at a local high school. The vertical sensitivity, on the other hand, is fine, which ends up feeling awkward unless you slow it down to horizontal’s level. On top of this, one of your squadmates’ “helpful” abilities is to make your main gun auto target, which occasionally has you firing at places your mouse isn’t pointing, occasionally spazzing while he does it. Movement down hills or bumping into walls has a similar effect. Thankfully the AI, while not dumb as rocks, isn’t too much of a challenge as to make this game breaking.
The game’s only noteworthy formula edition is it’s salvage system, where you loot the enemies you down to collect scrap and use it to buy ammo, health packs, or new equipment/upgrades for your equipment. However, this too is poorly implemented – I never, in all of my playtime, came even close to running low on this stuff on the normal difficulty, even before I just switched to the pistol most of the time. Anytime I was about to die I bought a health pack. Anytime I ran out of ammo I bought more. The only time I died is when I was careless due to boredom. On top of all of this, the pistol is both easily the best weapon in the game for main firefights (it is the most powerful and has no annoying lock on ability) and has unlimited ammo, so that saved me even more resources.
The main claim to fame with these remasters, the presentation, isn’t the worst remaster out there, but it isn’t anything to write home about. The orange lights in a few levels look good with your blue character and the new base models and some of the textures look decent – admittedly more impressive when compared to the original. However, the uneven quality of the re-textures, including some that may not have even been re-textured at all, creates an uneven looking experience. The audio doesn’t fare much better – not terrible, but there was not one memorable track, sound effect, or piece of dialogue that stayed with me.
From here, the games only saving grace would be the core design and gameplay loop, but unfortunately this doesn’t stray far from killing the same troopers with an occasional flying mine, robot, or sniper, or taking part in a clearly staged set-piece moment that falls flat compared to either the spectacle of a modern day game or the elegant pacing of a better designed one.
This is not a game worth a purchase. It is not inherently terrible, but there is absolutely no reason to experience it. The single player campaign lasts you about 7 hours at most, and the multiplayer is dead on arrival. If you are new to the game, don’t bother, but I know that is not the majority of people eyeing this game. That would lie to the second group – the ones looking to experience the nostalgia of a game they played in their youth. Listen – don’t bother. Not with this one. Some games hold up well, but if you are looking to travel down memory lane for this one, do it for free in your own head, because the neighborhood doesn’t look the same as it did when you were a kid, and there isn’t a reload button.
- Outside of the cover system, nothing is the absolute worst.
- The (hopefully intentionally) corny delivery of overwrought military cliches can be adorable sometimes
- Control issues very reminiscent of it’s era
- Set-pieces are too setup to mean anything and not pretty enough to compare to modern spectacle
- Everything this game does, a hefty amount of games do far better.