Imagine you buried a time capsule ten years ago. Now you’ve unearthed it, and it still has value, even if some parts are worse off nowadays. That’s Rogue Trooper Redux, a remastered version of Rogue Trooper, a game from 2006. It’s equal parts fun, enjoyable and has enough bang for your buck, but it’s certainly not perfect.
Rogue Trooper is an adaptation of its namesake comic book, from the 80s, and as such carries quite a bit of lore, but the basics: the protagonist, a super soldier named Rogue of the GI program, deserts his unit against orders after a trap leads to the majority of said unit being killed. With his dead comrades living on via ‘biochips’ implanted in his gear, Rogue must uncover what and/or who led to this surprise attack, and the motive. The plot is surprisingly sophisticated for what it is and is supposedly faithful to the source material, but those details are unimportant for the purpose of this video. For what it is, the plot is decent. You’re not getting something like Watchmen out of this (unless you count the fact that the protagonist is Dr. Manhattan minus super powers, covering his unmentionables and with a gun), but it’s serviceable.
Rogue Trooper is a third person shooter in the vein of titles like Gears of War, with a cover system, regenerating health and linear, objective based levels. But it has it’s own unique and separating quirks. The game’s most unique aspect is the Salvage system; killed enemies can be looted for salvage points, which are used to buy ammo, grenades, health packs, upgrades and new weapons. This can be done at any time during gameplay, and as such encourages killing everyone(though, what shooter game these days doesn’t encourage it whatsoever) as well as exploration to find big salvage packets.
The aforementioned biochip comrades are more than just one liner generators; they do functions like hacking doors, reloading your guns, turning your weapon into a sentry turret, create holograms for diversions and other features. Your options for clearing levels are thus quite numerous and open up a wealth of possibilities for getting through levels. Stealth is an option as well, as you can also equip a silencer, crouch to reduce your footstep noise and do one hit kill surprise attacks if you get the jump on fools.
Alas, this is an older title, albeit remastered, and it has some obvious archaic design quirks like no sprinting, an awkward control scheme for the time, sometimes questionable enemy AI, sometimes confusing level design, a camera which can be unreliable in a pinch, and no unscripted melee option (by this I mean that there’s only a prompt when you’re next to them or going for stealth kills). None of these design choices are inherently game breaking, however, but they do show the age the game came from, being a decade old game. Granted, the third person shooter wasn’t fully mastered then either.
There are unintended positive side effects of this age, though: the biggest one is that load times are nonexistent after death, so if you die, you’re back at the last checkpoint within a second (after choosing the continue option, that is), something that some modern games can’t even boast. Continuing is pretty quick and painless, which is a good thing considering that there are some truly long levels and a couple of really annoying defense missions where losing that health bar of whatever vehicle you’re on means ya lose.
To sum up the gameplay, it’s less a Gears of War clone and more a lost Gears of War clone, where it has good aspects and bad ones. Ironically, Rogue Trooper came out first.
The presentation is where the game shows it’s age the hardest. It’s not a bad looking game at all, in fact some of the character and environment designs look okay a decade later (though no more than simply ‘okay’), but there are definitely outdated assets like static backgrounds and rough looking blood splatters, most noticeable in cutscenes. The voice acting, fittingly, is also cheesy for the time. (And branching off that last point, I swear to God, the antagonist quotes Transformers: The Movie wholesale. Both Megatron and Optimus Prime, even. You can probably guess the lines. This is better than it sounds.)
Another sign of age is the framerate, locked to 30 frames per second. It’s easy to justify when your porting console is the Wii (which Rogue Trooper was once ported to), not the new and fancy Switch, a console capable of doing 60 frames per second gameplay even undocked. For a remastered version of an old game it could have been much better, even if the framerate doesn’t kill the gameplay. I’d rather have a functional game at a stable framerate than a game trying to stay at 60 and failing.
In conclusion, Rogue Trooper Redux is a fairly competent title on its own. It’s certainly aged roughly in some areas, but it’s perfectly playable if you can look past its flaws. Beyond the single player campaign, which can take you about 6-7 hours to finish (seriously, some of the levels are long), there’s timed mission modes, a horde mode, and some online multiplayer, so there’s some replayability to be had after you’re done with the story. Fans of the comic book or the original release way back then have an easy recommendation, but it’s a little iffy for everyone else, though still recommendable as a time capsule of what third person shooters were like in 2006.
And as an added bonus, it’s a genuinely good (if flawed) licensed game, for all the bad rap licensed games got and still continue to get sometimes. Not bad.