Of all the video game genres, shooters age with the worst of them. Platformers keep their charm and nostalgia factor with cartoony visuals that never tried to be realistic in the first place. Real-time strategy games hold their appeal for years with impeccable balance and deep strategy. Revered classics like Tetris
are so simple that they're immune to aging. Shooters, on the other hand, accumulate a thick coat of rust. With their controls and mechanics that were later vastly improved upon, cheesy plots about saving the world that were hardly passable at the time, dead multiplayer components and graphics so dated one struggles to comprehend they were once the most advanced technology on the market, we're just dandy with leaving decades-old shooters on the shelf in favor of the latest iteration.Rogue Trooper Redux
, an updated version of 2006's Rogue Trooper
, is an offender of all of the above: the clunky gameplay, the eye roll-worthy story, the multiplayer that isn't going to drag anyone away from their old standbys, and the visuals that are still dated beneath the remastered coat of paint. But sometimes, under a peeling, scratchy layer of rust, there are glimpses of what made Rogue Trooper
so beloved by fans.
In the game, you'll take control of Rogue. Rogue is a GI, or Genetic Infantryman. GIs were artificially created to be perfect soldiers. These strong fighters are immune to toxins and can breathe in the poisonous atmosphere of the surrounding environments. Enemies need oxygen tanks to survive, a weakness that often gets them killed since you can shoot out the tanks. Even when the body of a GI dies, they live on through their biochip, which is essentially a flash drive that stores their brain. Along the way of thwarting the bad guys' evil plot, Rogue will pick up the biochips of his fallen comrades, storing them in his equipment: his helmet, gun and more. The biochip GIs accompany Rogue throughout the campaign, offering advice, giving him new abilities and upgrading his equipment as the game goes on.
The company of the GIs is something that went over well in the original game. The upgrade and unlocks system is fun and adds a variety of ways to play. Trip mines, sentry guns, holograms and more are all strategies you'll be able to employ, and Rogue's arsenal ranges from a simple pistol to a shotgun to heavier weaponry like a mortar launcher. The linear levels are well-designed and have held up well, each one offering multiple paths from which to approach situations. A multitude of strategies can be employed: creating distractions with your sentry or hologram, stealth or even just going in guns blazing.
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The gameplay mechanics have not aged with the same grace. Rogue Trooper
is a cover-based third-person shooter in the vein of Kill Switch
or Gears of War
(which Rogue Trooper
predates by a few months). The cover system is usually the source of the problems. Walking up to an obstacle will automatically put your character into cover — when it works, that is. Usually, you'll struggle to get into cover when you want to be in cover, but will enter cover out of nowhere when you are just passing through. There are other problems: switching weapons or attachments feels clunky, shooting around corners or over cover is clumsy, and the game doesn't check if you're safe when it checkpoints, leading to more than a few awkward situations. There are odd platforming parts where you're supposed to dive roll over gaps. Segments fighting alongside other allies can be terrible as they walk in front of you or crowd you. Enemy AI are idiots who will declare that "nothing is there" after seeing their ally get a sniper bullet lodged in his brain.
The list goes on, but somehow, even with all its quirks, Rogue Trooper Redux
is gosh darn fun. As poor as the gameplay can be at times, Rogue Trooper
isn't a difficult game, making it easier to overlook the flaws. Had the game been harder, it would have bombed in this regard. Thanks to his GI status, Rogue can take quite a few bullets before he starts hurting. Medpacks are plentiful and infinite as long as you can afford them with salvage, Rogue Trooper
's currency. Levels feel just the right length, and the locations offer enough variety that the start of each mission piques enough interest to keep playing. A few vehicle segments are mixed in, where the player gets to man a gun from an aircraft or a moving train, and these are welcome. There's just something fun about moving location to location, practicing your sniping skills and rendezvousing with aircraft and giant robots in Rogue Trooper
Just hanging around
The remastered graphics help breathe life into the game as well. By today's standards, they're nowhere near up to snuff, which may turn off some players. However, after playing Redux
and following it up with watching videos of the original, the difference is night and day. Rogue Trooper
's multiplayer has made the jump as well. Players can team up to take down waves of baddies in an arcade-like mode where points are scored. There are different maps and options for two main game modes, Stronghold and Progressive. At the time of writing, there was no trouble getting into games, but the modes aren't the type to inspire a long-lasting community. The multiplayer is forgettable, and there's not a whole lot of reason to play it outside of nabbing a few achievements. As the matches were player-hosted, the connection wasn't great either, and there was often lag when new enemies would spawn.
There is also the matter of the quality of the remaster. Remasters are a constant debate among fans, and most of the player's enjoyment comes down to what they were looking to get out of it. Some just want to play their favorite childhood games with updated graphics and Xbox Live integration. Others demand more, wanting an overhaul of dated mechanics and systems. Rogue Trooper Redux
is the original title with prettier graphics, but there aren't any major, noticeable changes. It has been polished rather than built up from scratch. If you're looking for something revolutionary, you'll have to look elsewhere.
Sniping: one of Rogue Trooper's great joys
The achievements are generous. Unlike most shooters, there is no requirement that players beat the game on the highest difficulty; only normal mode is required. Playing through the story alone will get you more than 500 gamerscore, which is always something achievement hunters like to see. After that, there are some miscellaneous awards mixed in for getting headshots, stealth kills and amassing more than 2,000 regular kills. There are several achievements related to the online component, collecting salvage and beating a mission with high accuracy. Nothing appears to be too out of whack or difficult, and six gamers have already completed it as of this writing. Be sure to tackle the online ones while Rogue Trooper
is still maintaining an active player base.
Underneath its flaws, Rogue Trooper Redux
is good, old-fashioned fun. Its linear levels are solidly designed and offer a variety of ways to approach the objective at hand. Different play styles are also encouraged with stealth, distractions or running in and mortaring everything in sight all being viable tactics. Multiplayer exists, and that's about all that can be said about that. However, Rogue Trooper
is a 2006 game, and Redux
still feels like one. Just to name a few of its flaws, the cover system is clumsy, attempts at platforming are awkward, switching weapons is imprecise, the enemy AI have a collective IQ of seven, and it occasionally checkpoints when the entire room is shooting at you. Simply put, when you're not annoyed with Rogue Trooper
, you're going to be having a good time with it.
- Well-designed, linear levels that are paced well
- Many ways to play with different weapons, attachments, upgrades and abilities
- Sniping, explosions and other action segments are just plain fun
- Clunky and dated gameplay
- Quirks like poor AI and checkpointing at odd times
- Forgettable and sometimes laggy multiplayer
The author spent nine hours completing Rogue Trooper Redux's campaign, testing out the two multiplayer modes and going back for a few achievements. 24 achievements were won for 735 gamerscore. An Xbox One code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.