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Rogue Trooper Redux

Score: 55%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Rebellion
Developer: TickTock Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1; 2 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Action/ Third Person Shooter/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

Had I played it back in the day, I would probably have loved Rogue Trooper for the six or so months of its existence before Gears of War launched and rendered it obsolete. This is a curiosity: a game from not one generation but two generations ago, rereleased on modern hardware. Rogue Trooper Redux isnít a bad game on its own merits, but by choosing its company and setting an unreasonably high price point, it unfortunately damns itself. The original was something of a cult classic, but this release feels like a port with slightly better graphics. A comprehensive remake likely would have established a place for it, but in its current state, at its current price, and with so many superior alternatives to choose from, Rogue Trooper Redux doesn't really have any business in the Xbox One library.

Donít expect Rogue Trooper Redux to look like a modern game. Technically, itís fine; it runs at a decent clip and is generally inoffensive to the eyes. Textures are decidedly PS2-era; they generally alternate between being flat and slightly jagged, though some smoothing has clearly been done. The draw distance is generally very poor, but at least the established fiction behind the game can be used as a semi-plausible crutch. Animation work is decent where it usually doesnít matter and often problematic when it does. All of the cutscene action looks fine, but during combat, things get rough quickly. Non-fatal shots have no visual effect on enemies, which in turn makes the gunplay extremely unsatisfying. Every time I shoot a sniper off his perch, he inverts and spins with his legs splayed out like Chun-Li. The occasional weirdness, strangely enough, sort of compensates for the technical inadequacy.

Artistically, Rogue Trooper Redux fares much better; the comic strip upon which it is based was actually drawn by legendary artist Dave Gibbons. (I knew the blue skin and pupil-free eyes were familiar!) Most character models have their faces hidden by masks and helmets, so they're able to get away with effectively populating the ranks with clones. Environments may not impress on the base level, but take a closer look and youíll see some memorable details. Best of all is the skybox, which, given the setting of the game, should be (and, in fact, is) awesome to look at.

Rogue Trooper Reduxís voice work is generally decent, though the accents are so scattershot I can hardly tell what theyíre supposed to be. Of course, that may be the point. All of Rogueís comrades-in-arms have very specific voices that youíll instantly be able to recognize after about an hour of play. Not that it matters all that much; given the shallow, stakes-free storytelling at play. Itís only now that I realize I need to say something about the soundtrack. The fact that the music has escaped my memory for so long should be a decent enough testament to its quality.


Gameplay:

Rogue Trooper Redux is a remaster of Rogue Trooper, a 2006 tactical shooter based on a specific strip from British comic magazine 2000 AD. Written by Gerry Finley-Day and Gordon Rennie, it tells the tale of Rogue, one of a legion of GIs (Genetic Infantrymen) engineered to wage war on the inhospitable surface of the planet Nu-Earth. Itís a no-manís-world with a toxic environment that happens to be caught in a tug-of-war between a series of black holes and at least one major celestial body. On this planet, two factions are ever at odds: the Norts and the Southers. The GIs, an invention and asset of the Southers, are dropped into combat; their environmental immunities and high combat prowess position them as a key factor in ultimately turning the tide of the war. But a traitor has snuck some compromising information behind enemy lines, and Rogueís squad (as well as most of the GIs) are routed in an event known as the Quartz Zone Massacre. Salvaging the biochips (in essence, the sentient life force of his comrades) and integrating them into his equipment, Rogue goes off the reservation in order to hunt the traitor down. As far as shooter stories go, Rogue Trooper Redux's is pretty solid, but it's honestly more of an excuse to go on a rampage across this ruined, high-concept world. If you've read the comic, the game is fine enrichment indeed.

At points interspersed throughout Rogue Trooper Redux's modest runtime, you can see where the third person shooter genre really starts to blossom and come into its own here. That being said, this game doesn't consistently get those elements where they need to be. Thirteen linear missions of generally pedestrian third person (and occasionally on-rails) shooting action: thatís Rogue Trooper Redux for you. As Rogue, you run where the game wants you to run, occasionally stopping to take cover and blow away some Norts, but generally proceeding towards whatever waypoint the game designates. Enemies and environments occasionally vary, but the experience mostly sticks to static, standard fare. Itís not a very long game, but it still manages to wear out its welcome long before the credits roll.

Rogue Trooper Redux rounds out its Campaign with a series of player versus environment offerings that can be tackled either solo or with others, but they donít add anything new to the bog standard shooting action and ultimately hold no lasting power. Stronghold is a Horde precursor that has you fending off waves of attackers, while Progressive is more along the lines of a single player mission. I did both once and will never return to either of them.


Difficulty:

Rogue Trooper Redux clearly likes to think of itself as a tactical shooter, but it falls prey to Occamís razor pretty quickly. There are no well-implemented incentives to play the game in any other way than trudging forward, and mowing everything and everyone down with whatever weapon works. It's just way too much hassle to go through the motions of deploying a sentry gun, scattering a series of micro-mines, or projecting a hologram decoy. It's generally far easier to capitalize on the woeful survival instincts of the Norts. However, that doesnít mean you wonít die once in a while or due to the odd difficulty spikes that crop up here and there.

In the absence of aiming down the sights is some pretty generous aim assist. This comes in especially handy when fighting explosive drones known as Decapitators, but as a rule of thumb, enemy artificial intelligence borders on absolutely suicidal. Interface cues let you know when you'll score a headshot or rupture an explosive vessel, and they're mostly on point. On the default difficulty, the slightest amount of persistence is all youíll need to finish Rogue Trooper Redux.


Game Mechanics:

Playing Rogue Trooper Redux with the knowledge that it predates most of the cover-based third person shooters that dominate the genre affords the game some leeway. However, thereís a lot here that just plain feels bad. Rogueís basic controls are responsive and fluid enough, but once you start adding more things to the mix, things get wonky.

Thereís no dedicated cover button that ensures youíll stick to any given surface. Rogue takes cover by running up against it Ė usually. I ran into several instances in which the cover system failed to work and got me killed as a result. Grenades also function poorly; a tap of the button is akin to playing Russian Roulette, and taking the requisite time to aim your throw is often a good way to end up in the ground.

On paper, Rogue Trooper Reduxís secondary mechanics sound kind of novel; youíre a Genetic Infantryman whoís basically got his entire squad hooked up to his equipment, and everyone is operating together like a well-oiled machine. Unfortunately, once you get past the narrative creativity, thereís no innovation. Bagman is your store and resource repository, but while he reloads Rogueís weapons and injects him with life-restoring medicine, he generally fulfills his function in much the same way that menu screens and buttons do. Helm is basically your mini-map and hacking tool. Gunnar is your gun, and he can also be used as a deployable turret. Save for the voices emanating from all this stuff, thereís not much new here.

Combing the battlefield after a fight yields Salvage, the resource used to upgrade your weapons and manufacture ammunition and health packs. Exploring thoroughly often nets you a good deal more Salvage than usual, but the act of exploring Rogue Trooper Reduxís levels is hardly a pleasure in and of itself. Itíd be nice if Salvage was automatically collected, but instead you must run to each corpse and loot it. This kind of stuff messes with the pacing.

Itís possible for games from Rogue Trooperís era to successfully stake their claim on the current landscape with no conflict; I recently replayed Beyond Good & Evil HD, and weíll be getting a remaster of Okami before the end of the year. Those games are still fantastic today. But Rogue Trooper Redux's gameplay isn't strong enough to stand on its own without a serious rework; it simply plays like a dinosaur. I'd actually give it a solid recommendation if it wasn't almost insultingly overpriced. But alas, here we are. There may have been a freshness to Rogue Trooper eleven years ago, but any semblance of relevance is long gone by now.


-FenixDown, GameVortex Communications
AKA Jon Carlos

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