Thursday, October 19, 2017

Review: Rogue Trooper Redux


Though I wasn’t familiar with it in its original incarnation I’ve heard some people talk with fondness about Rogue Trooper as a shooter. Introducing what were, at the time, some aspects of play that were uncommon, like a cover system and a variety of play styles over the course of its campaign. Now, after a break of about a decade, Redux is here to highlight what worked and make some improvements where possible but the gameplay has still aged poorly overall, making it tough to love.

You’ll take control of Rogue, a member of a squad of genetically-modified super soldiers who arrive to do battle with their enemies, the Norts, and who all manage to get slaughtered in the first few moments. Taking a chip from some fallen comrades, allowing them to live on and help Rogue in his mission this leaves it to him to avenge the deaths of his squadmates. What follows is a series of loosely-connected scenarios and skirmishes where you’ll need to generally mow down your enemies, take cover when necessary, command heavy weaponry every once in a while to take down bigger targets, and collect material from fallen foes and comrades alike to continue building and restocking your arsenal of weapons and abilities.


While the models and some elements of the game were given a modern overhaul the environments, enemy AI, and many aspects of the game experience were either left as they were or at least not meaningfully updated to what I’d consider modern standards. Character models are obviously not as primitive as they originally were but there are still aspects of them that are odd, notably in the cutscenes Rogue’s neck is either non-existent or turned in on itself oddly and while this sort of thing is a bit trivial it did make me do a double-take for how odd it looked. Landscapes are generally barren, consisting of pretty large open areas broken up by rocks or crystals that you can take cover behind, enemies, and sometimes buildings here or there. Aside from that there’s just emptiness, and while that doesn’t detract from the action it serves as a constant visual reminder of the dated nature of the game.

Serving as a second reminder the lack of fluidity to movement and engagement with your enemies stands out like a sore thumb. You and the Norts you’re shooting at move in a very stilted way and after years of playing games where this has been refined it is a pretty significant step back. What’s worse is that the enemy AI exhibits very little sense of what’s happening and this typically makes them pretty easy to kill. The game compensates for this generally through volume but there’s an almost shooting gallery quality to how you’ll often set up behind cover and systematically pick off foes who don’t aim very well and who stay conveniently in your cross hairs while you blow them away. The introduction of different weapons and gadgets helps break things up over the course of the game but at the same time I usually only experimented with some of the things like a turret or hologram projector for the sake of breaking things up, not generally because they were essential.


I will add that there are some online multiplayer options so you can play through some general maps with others, and that can add some value to the package, but there are some flaws. I’m not sure whether it was because I was working so far ahead of my comrades that the game didn’t know what to do a few times but I came upon groups of spawning Norts who just stood there for a few seconds in a line, long enough that I was able to mow the majority of them down before they even reacted. I probably had the most fun in this mode because it felt comparatively run and gun versus the single-player campaign but the few variations offered aren’t likely to keep you engaged for long, though perhaps if you had some friends to play with it could add a little longevity.

Overall Rogue Trooper Redux, even with the overhaul, is very hard not to see as a game trapped in its original time. If you have great deal of nostalgia for the original, and don’t mind the possibility of your rose-colored memories being ripped away, it will probably be worth giving a look. Since, for the moment, there aren’t any games of this kind on the Switch people who are ready to start killing may find it to be a good fix as well. For just about anyone else I’d say they’d need to think it over carefully as it isn’t, for the most part, up to modern genre standards.


Score: 6

Pros:
  • For the moment this style of play is under-represented on the Switch
  • For fans of the original or the comic universe it is based on, there may be nostalgic value
  • Online co-op multiplayer can be fun for a while

Cons:
  • Enemy AI, on the whole, is pretty awful so the action can fall flat
  • Movement, aim, and even the game’s progression are generally stilted and awkward
  • The often barren environments and landscapes are a constant reminder of the game’s overall age


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