Welcome back everyone. Today we’re covering another old favorite of mine: Rogue Trooper, brought to us by Eidos and Rebellion in May 2006. It’s a game adaptation of a comic series revolving around an (almost) last-of-his-kind supersoldier, adapted to survive Nu Earth’s toxin atmosphere. The initial deployment of his unit was a complete disaster due to a traitor in the Souther ranks, and now Rogue and backup copies of his three aptly-named friends are on a mission to hunt down the man responsible.
At its core, Rogue Trooper is a Third Person Shooter with cover mechanics. Said mechanics are a little dated, especially without some sort of sprint function to cover distances, but still entirely serviceable. There’s plenty of cool weapons and special abilities to spice up the combat, though I didn’t get as much use out of them as I’d like, which I’ll get back to.
This comic series is adapted surprisingly well into a game. Rogue falls into this weird state of “alone, but not alone.” His three buddies are decidedly dead, but their personalities live on in special back-up chips originally implanted in their skulls, now slotted into his equipment. As such, you get all the banter of a fireteam of soldiers without any of the AI screw-ups to be concerned about. Nifty. They also grant helpful abilities, like the option to set Gunnar down on a tripod and tear up a group while you flank, and Bagman’s ability to salvage from corpses to construct munitions and weapon upgrades. The below-average difficulty cuts into the appeal of these tools, as the skill floor is so low that I accidentally blew through scenarios designed for them with standard shooter tactics. That could have used some fine tuning in my opinion.
The salvaging mentioned prior is a major mechanic of this title. Several different objects like corpses and sentry guns and fallen drones can be salvaged for scrap. This scrap is spent to unlock new equipment such as grenades, and upgrade existing ones, including giving Rogue’s rifle bigger magazines with harder hitting rounds. You also use it to replenish your ammo, grenades, and medkits. I feel like this is another facet that could have been better optimized for a challenge, as I never found myself running out, but that’s probably because I picked the battlefield clean in every stage I played. This is even with Bagman’s overzealous auto-reload throwing away magazines with 2 rounds missing out of 40. I’ll also say that the game’s pattern of unlocking new gear doesn’t quite gel with the overall length. By the time you have all your nifty guns and grenades and such, the game is at least half over.
In terms of presentation, the game reminds me of RE4: Awesome at the time, but definitely showing its age today. While the texture and model quality holds up better due to the art style, a number of the animations are just clunky and many objects such as grenades have no sense of weight to them. Sound is fair to middling, with the main theme sticking out as mildly catchy while still conveying the bleak atmosphere of the setting. Lastly, while I understand that the universe of Rogue Trooper isn’t as well known as something like Batman, I wish they’d done more to organically teach the players about the world rather than just throwing information into their faces. Something like Assassin’s Creed’s option to read the encyclopedia entry for a new character/enemy right as they first appear would be great. *UPDATE* The level after Nu Paree runs like trash unless you run the game in compatibility mode. Otherwise I’ve found no performance issues but I’m still annoyed that’s a thing.
For all my quibbling though, my biggest complaint is “I wish there was more of it.” More delving into this unfamiliar universe, more stages, more opportunities to utilize the interesting mechanics. And I believe that sums up my opinion of this title quite succinctly. That’s Rogue Trooper. It’s $10 on Steam. It’s a solid TPS which I’d heartily recommend.