STAFF REVIEW of Rogue Trooper (Xbox)

Wednesday, June 7, 2006.
by Davilis

Rogue Trooper Box art It is the distant future on the war-torn, poisoned atmosphere of Nu Earth. The factions of Nordland (aka Norts) and the Southern Confederacy Cross (aka Southers) wage a seemingly endless battle for control of the virtually shattered planet. Milli-Com, a Souther military giant, has been working diligently with genetic scientists to create the ultimate ?super soldiers? to turn the tide of battle once and for all! Enter the G.I. (Genetic Infantrymen) Troopers-physically massive, extremely agile and immune to virtually all known poisons. The G.I.?s immunity meant that they could not only survive the poisonous environment of Nu Earth, but actually thrive there! The microchip inserted in the base of every G.I.?s skull meant that even death was no escape from the trials of war, as fallen comrades simply had their chips removed from their corpse, and added to a surviving member?s equipment for later re-insertion to a new clone body. In this fashion, the specific talents of one?s comrades would be at another?s disposal.

After a supposed surprise attack goes horribly wrong, and the G.I.s are virtually eliminated at the Quartz Zone Massacre, a lone G.I. Trooper called Rogue goes AWOL (Absent WithOut Leave) to avenge the slaughter of his brothers-in-arms and hunt down the unknown traitor. Rogue comes to be equipped with the biochips of Helm-a communications/hacking specialist, Gunnar-a gunnery/weapons specialist, and Bagman-the munitions/medic expert. As a virtual ?one man Army?, Rogue must face implacable odds and overwhelming numbers to find the truth, and retribution.

Rogue Trooper has been brought to consoles by illustrious publisher Eidos Interactive. Eidos have graced the gaming world with such titles as the Commandos series, the Tomb Raider franchise, the Hitman series and Crash n Burn, to name just a few. This time, Eidos has teamed up with UK developers Rebellion to bring one of Britain?s most popular Sci-Fi comics to console and PC alike. A brief list of Rebellion?s offerings include the multi-award winning Sniper Elite, Delta Force: Urban Warfare, Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death and Miami Vice, The Game. It?s fair to assume that Rebellion knows a thing or two about riveting military action, be it WWII Europe or a futuristic wasteland, and they have turned out solid title here!
The concept of adding Helm, Gunnar and Bagman to Rogue?s equipment is not only innovative, but absolutely required to progress through the game. Electronic passlocks could not be overridden without Helm?s assistance; Bagman is essential for his ability to actually manufacture ammunition, medikits, upgrade weapons and expand your inventory capacity; and Gunnar certainly comes in handy for a sentry gun to take pressure off Rogue in otherwise demanding tasks. Enemy AI really makes Rogue Trooper a pleasure to play, as offensive tactics adapt to how you engage the enemy. The Nort troopers will not necessarily see you hiding around a corner, but they MIGHT next time?that is to say situations will change through gameplay, and it ain?t gonna be no cakewalk! For instance, during my gameplay experience, seemingly static patrol paths would occasionally change up, perhaps catching me in the process of trying to perform a stealthy kill move; however, if that same segment of a checkpoint was replayed for whatever reasons, the sneak attack might work.
Another impressive example of Rogue Trooper?s AI is clearly and believably evident in the fact that very seldom can the player pull off a long range sniper shot without being shot at in turn. Simply enough, if you can get a clear shot at your target then the target, if aware of your assassination attempt, will be able to shoot at you too-as it should be. Fortunately, I don?t think I was ever dispatched by a single enemy head shot, but perhaps on the higher skill levels? The arsenal of available weaponry is also something to get excited about, with everything from standard issue rifles and machine guns to Mortar Fragments, the Lazooka (like a Laser Bazooka) and the devastating Hell Cannon.

The varied terrain of Nu Earth also offers many opportunities for both cover and strategic advantage. It?s one heck of a lot better to drop an entire squad of Nort elite troopers from a concealed, elevated sniping position, than to rush headlong into close-quarter combat if you have a choice! Frag grenades and remote detonated micro mines can provide either a surprise attack on the enemy, or for the later, may be dropped to cover your back so as to NOT be snuck up upon by stealthy Nort Troopers. The salvage of equipment from slain Nort and G.I. troopers alike is of vital importance to Rogue?s success as well. The items that Rogue ?salvages? are essential for Bagman to replenish your entire inventory, a really cool concept actually, as you never need to search for ammunition or health packs, just acquire the needed salvage points to re-stock or upgrade your weapons. This system seems to take the emphasis off the tedious task of acquiring ammo, and instead allows the gamer to concentrate on the unfolding plotline.

The game graphics are relatively smooth, and movement is quite fluid. The sniper scope view is realistically handled and allows for a greater zoom as the sniper rifle is upgraded. Smoke, shadow and explosions are all well represented, and add to the game atmospherics. A good example of this effect would be seen in the enemy troops exhaling from their biosuits, and the visible gas emissions actually giving away their locations from behind cover! Adding to the sense of ?being there? is the buffeting effect from nearby explosions, especially in the sniper view. The aerial assaults by Hoppas and ground attacks by the massive tanks are all real eye pleasers, and react realistically to machine gun and Lazooka counter-fire. The robotic armoured suits that the Nort forces also employ against you during gameplay resemble Mech-suits and are very detailed indeed. Graphically, Rogue Trooper delivers just enough detail to make the other-worldly war entirely believable.

I found the sound in Rogue Trooper to be fair, with appropriate background music adding to the ambient feel of the game. Distant explosions and gunfire are near constant reminders of the post-apocalyptic world in which you fight. Voice dialogue is well executed and actually increases or decreases in volume realistically based on the proximity to the speaker. There were really no discrepancies to be found anywhere in the sound work, with weapons, explosions and electronic sounds all sounding as they should. The accompanying game music was subdued when it needed to be, and did a good job of heightening the action when it should have!

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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