Game: Rogue Trooper Redux
Developer: TickTock Games
Reviewed on: PlayStation 4 (Review code provided)
Borag Thungg, Earthlets! Right, now that I’ve alienated most of our younger audience let’s talk about Rogue Trooper.
Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s I was a keen reader of classic UK sci-fi comic, 2000AD. A bi-weekly magazine that presented a mixture of stories from such classic characters as Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, ABC Warriors, The Space Girls (okay, maybe not them, but 90’s 2000AD had some weird stuff) and Rogue Trooper. Rogue Trooper is a personal favourite of mine. Co-created by Dave Gibbons of Watchmen fame in 1981, the titular character is a blue skinned G.I; genetic infantry, cloned soldiers created by the “Southers” to fight in their never ending war against the villainous “Norts” (pretty much Nazi’s) on the planet of Nu Earth. Aiding Rogue in his quest to destroy the Traitor General, a Souther who betrayed the GI’s in the Quartz Zone Massacre, is the consciousness of his former brothers in arms – Gunnar, Bagman and Helm, installed into Rogue’s rifle, backpack and helmet respectively. It’s a strip that’s still going strong today and one highly revered by 2000AD fans. It’s odd, then, that there’s not been many attempts to adapt it into other media over the years. In 2006, however, Rebellion produced a well received videogame for XBox, Playstation 2 and Wii. It’s this that has now been given a fresh coat of paint and put out on current machines XBox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and Windows PC. Is this retro classic a good fit for modern consoles? Well, the answer is a difficult “Yes and No”.
Rogue Trooper Redux takes its plot from the comics, starting off with the Quartz Zone Massacre and leading into Rogue’s pursuit of the Traitor General, taking the form of a third person cover shooter. As Rogue you’ll prowl the battlefields of Nu Earth, blasting Norts in linear missions. The controls will be familiar for anyone who’s touched a similar game; left stick for moving, right stick for aiming, right trigger for firing. Rogue’s assault rifle is his primary weapon, although you can fall back on a pistol should you run out of ammo (something you may find surprisingly easy to do), and it’s this that you’ll be outfitting with upgrades as the game progresses. As with any game of this ilk, these upgrades are generally useful for specific scenarios, but you’ll also find ones that you’ll favour for general encounters, be it the shotgun, laser or mortar – it’s fairly easy to find a specific groove that suits your play style.
The game has an interesting take on handling ammo and upgrades which now seems very much like a proto form of modern crafting mechanics. Dead Norts will offer up scrap (something you can also find in larger quantities in hidden stockpiles) which Bagman can use to build new types of ammunition and upgrade your weapons, health and other systems. It’s certainly a simpler system when put next to modern titles with their endless material types and crafting trees but it certainly suits the games more arcade action stylings.
Visually the game has been given a bit of a bump from its decade old former iteration, with more polygons on display in both the characters and scenery as well as some higher resolution textures. It’s certainly not current-gen standards, looking more like a mid-gen PS3/XBox 360 titles, but the 1080p and 60FPS visuals certainly help sell the experience, and it is remarkably accurate when put next to its comic book counterpart. The game is also fully voiced which lends it a decent cinematic feel. There is no escaping, though, that what once seemed like a big budget game pales in comparison to even modern AA titles like ReCore in its sense of scale. But looks aren’t everything, though, as the popularity of lo-fi indie games prove; it’s all about the gameplay.
The controls aren’t terrible but they certainly feel a lot stiffer than modern titles; where the game does show its pre-Gears of War age is in how it handles cover. Rogue will automatically snap against objects, however the level geometry often makes it difficult to tell what objects you can use for cover and which you can’t. It’s also easy to aim directly into the cover you’re behind, meaning you need to adjust your position and potentially take fire. It feels too hit or miss and is a mechanic that hasn’t really aged particularly well. The enemy AI could also do with a bit of a kick – both the Norts and AI controlled GI’s who join you on your journey come from the stormtrooper school of combat and, when shooting at each other, can’t hit a barn door from ten paces. The Norts are far more efficient when aiming for Rogue, however, often knowing exactly which piece of cover you’ve hidden behind, but they do still have a habit of wandering out into enemy fire and generally not being aware when their comrades are being gunned down fifty meters away from them.
The single player campaign, though, is bolstered by some fun objective based multiplayer. There’s a co-op mode, as well as PvAI modes Stronghold and Progression. Stronghold has you and up to four other players having to keep a position against waves of enemies for a set amount of time, very much a horde mode, while Progression tasks you with taking on a number of objectives with your team. It’s not massively fully featured, but there’s a lot of fun to be had. A big downside, however, came when I encountered a number of friendly fire incidents from team mates which killed the fun fairly quickly. For a co-op game it’s very easy for another player to go… ahem… rogue and start killing their own team.
The updated graphics don’t always work and the outdated controls pale in comparison to modern cover shooters, but there is an undeniable charm in Rogue Trooper Redux that brings the thrill power of a faithfully adapted 2000AD classic to a modern gaming audience. At a budget price, there’s plenty of content to experience and it’s well worth a purchase for fans of the original game and the comic strip alike.