Review by sfcalimari
"A good game while it lasts"
Rogue Trooper is based on an obscure British comic book series of the same name. You are Rogue, a big, uh, blue guy who is a genetically-engineered soldier for the "Southers" who are fighting against the "Norts." I guess the Blue Man Group wasn't hiring. You are sent into battle but get betrayed, you go try to figure out what happened, etcetera. The story in this game is really pretty negligible, full of plot twists and overacting that probably isn't going to impress anyone. None of the characters are really interesting, and eventually you will probably be mashing "start" to get through the cut-scenes and back to the action. Unless you are a fan of the comic book, then I guess you might enjoy the story.
Fortunately, the gameplay in this game really shines. It's very polished, frenetic, controls are good, level design is good, weapons are fun, graphics are good.
For the most part, gameplay is pretty typical third-person shooter. You have free-aim, rather than lock-on aim. You start out with a machine gun though you can eventually obtain a shotgun, a mortar weapon, and so on. Toss a grenade with the square button, or hold down square to aim the grenade precisely. Press circle to drop a proximity mine which blows up if an enemy runs over it. Press L1 while running to dive in any direction, which is fun and useful. One cool thing about this game is that you can press up against a wall or barrier by pressing L2, and shoot around the corner or even over the top of the barrier. You can even press X when pressed against a wall to fire blindly, sending your enemies to cover, though this is rarely very useful. And click R3 to use your machine-gun as a sniper rifle, very useful.
Overall the weapons are good and fun. Basically all your weapons are different reconfigurations of your main gun. I guess in the future weapons will be Transformers. You get a shotgun, an anti-air missile launcher, a mortar weapon, and a weird mostly useless pulse laser. You also have a pistol that never runs out of damage. For grenades, you have four kinds to choose from. One disables electronics, so you can toss one at a dangerous mech to disable it and then use a kill move to destroy it. Of the other three grenades, there is an incendiary and also a proximity "sticky" grenade, but only the standard frag grenades are really very useful. You can also hold down circle to launch a mess of proximity mines at the enemy. A quibble with the game I have is that it's too easy to just use these proximity mines over and over again. You have an unlimited supply for some reason, and they kill enemies with one blast, so once I figured out how to use them I just went around launching them at enemies over and over again. Feels cheap, honestly.
One major component of this game is that your character, Rogue, is actually being helped out by three buddies who died, but whose "bio-chips" or whatever survived and were plugged into Rogue's helmet, backpack, and gun. They help you out and make comments now and then during the game. Honestly it seems like it would be pretty annoying to spend eternity as some sweaty blue guy's helmet, let alone his backpack. This aspect of the game is really just a gimmick, but I guess it ties into the comic book. The helmet has a radar that shows enemies in the area. Also it can project a hologram of you that can run ahead and draw enemy fire, but this is never useful enough. You can also have it whistle and call the enemy and try to draw them into your trap, which unfortunately seldom works. As for the gun, one really cool thing you can do is set it down on the ground on a tripod and have it fire automatically at an enemy. Unfortunately there are only a few places in the game where you can do this, and putting down the gun makes you revert to your pistol. The backpack lets you make upgrades to your gun and so on, and manufactures health kits and ammo from salvage you pick up. Basically every time you kill an enemy, you can go up to it and hit X to salvage it, and you can also find salvage here and there in the different levels. This aspect of the game is kind of cool, though I don't see why you can't just pick up the enemy's dropped ammunition and weapons or something.
So what's the action like? Lots of gunplay, lots of rushing around frantically diving out of enemy fire, a bit of creeping around doing stealth kills, firing around corners, etcetera. There are a couple of somewhat tedious shooting-gallery levels where you fire a gun at hordes of enemies or enemy aircraft. One of the coolest things about the game, which could attract people to it, is the variety of ways you can take down enemies. Use the hologram to distract your enemy, set up your gun so it fires at enemies while you run around to the side and toss a grenade at them, whistle to attract them to a proximity mine you set. Unfortunately there aren't enough scenarios where you can use these fancy tricks, so mostly you will be running and gunning.
Enemies in the game are pretty decent, AI-wise. They are a bit scripted in how they always appear in the same place, but once they spot you they will run around firing at you, and take available cover. They're not stupid.
Overall this game is quite a lot of fun, and is definitely quite good, but it doesn't really make it to being great. The characters and story are uninteresting. The game has only 13 levels, which aren't really enough to warrant a buy rather than a rent. The game isn't really that challenging; even the hardest difficulty, "massacre," isn't terribly hard. The game gives you many interesting ways to take out enemies, but rarely gives you scenarios to use them. However, the game is a lot of fun while it lasts, and is worthy of at least a rent. I give it a high 7.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 07/19/06
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