Rebellion invites comics fans and action gamers back to the future with this video game adaptation of 2000AD's Rogue Trooper. Players take the role of Gerry Finley-Day and Dave Gibbons' genetically enhanced super-soldier, to fight for revenge in the disturbingly futuristic Nu Earth. The game plays like a third-person shooter, but tactical concerns such as stealth, reconnaissance, mobility, and timing are also important for continued survival in the unforgiving battlefields. Although a loner, the solitary G.I. is never completely alone, as he can receive guidance and advice from two former comrades, whose personalities are stored in computer chips that Rogue Trooper carries in his high-tech helmet (Helm) and backpack (Bagman).
Rogue Trooper is an actioner that comes to us courtesy of Rebellion, the sophomore publishing arm of those lovable rapscallions 2000 AD., famous for the Judge Dredd comic, and for being responsible for the total moral decay of British youth. Those of you who remember the mediocre first-person shooter based on Dredd need not fear... Rebellion's second outing is a much tighter package, based on a little known (at least here across the pond) but much more compelling comic title.
Nu-earth used to be the garden spot of the galaxy. Unfortunately, it happens to sit right outside a particularly useful wormhole, making it the strategic high-ground between the Southers and the Norts, two warring factions who've blasted the planet into a toxic wasteland in their attempts to dominate the gate in space. Now, no one survives on the surface without protective gear. The Norts, penny-pinching putzes that they are, give their foot soldiers a so-so rifle, an oxygen tank that tends to blow up when shot, and a breathing mask that they can barely see through. Then, they send a whole lot of them out and hope for the best. The Southers decided to think outside of the box.
They created the G.I.'s, the Genetic Infantry, vat-grown blue-skinned supa-soldiers capable of breathing the toxic air. With enhanced strength and senses, they're perfectly designed to survive on the surface of Nu-earth. In addition, each G.I. has a bio-chip implant which records his memories and personalities. If he's killed, his chip can be salvaged, temporarily plugged into another G.I.'s equipment, and later attached to a newly grown body. Let's hope this doesn't give Monsanto any ideas.
You play Rogue, the only surviving G.I. after your squad is betrayed and ambushed. Your buddies, the highly ironically named Helm (plugged into your helmet), Gunnar (plugged into your rifle), and Bagman (plugged into your backpack), made it through the battle only when you salvaged their bio-chips and plugged them into your gear. Now, you're on a one-man mission to track down the traitor and blow him up real good.
At first glance, this plays like a pretty standard military-style third-person shooter. Much of the basic Game play is borrowed from Namco's KillZone, with your trooper having the ability to blind-fire from behind cover, duck behind walls, and snipe. Controls are smooth and responsive. All-in-all, pretty standard stuff. Ah, but here's where the dudes at Rebellion got clever.
Y'see, yer mates whose chips are stowed in your gear aren't just freeloaders...they're enhancing your stuff, and doing it in some fairly novel ways. Gunnar sits in your gun, popping up lil' icons over targeted enemies to let you know if you've got a head-shot, or a tank-shot, piercing the enemies tank canister, which explodes after a few seconds, potentially taking out other enemies. In addition, you can drop Gunnar off in a spot, turning him into a sentry turret. Finally, Gunnar has a built-in sniper mode.
Helm sits in your helmet, naturally. In addition to hacking security doors and panels, Helm can generate a holographic G.I. which can be used to fool snipers into revealing their positions, and can be used to scout out areas a short ways ahead, and generally distract baddies.
The biggest enhancement is Bagman, your backpack. Instead of picking up weapons and first-aid kits, Bagman acts as a mini-factory, generating clips for your weapons and med-packs for your wounds, as well as building enhancements based on blueprints you receive at various points during your mission. You do this by feeding him 'salvage points', which you get by 'salvaging' downed enemies and equipment. (Run up to a downed bad guy and hit the action button.)
Bagman's weapon enhancements, which clip onto your existing rifle, include a basic shotgun, an arcing electrical weapon, a SAM launcher for dealing with airborne pests, and the wonderfully lethal Mortar Launcher, which launches a shell that arcs towards an enemy and explodes into 4 bomblets overhead. Bagman also supplies power enhancements for your arsenal, adding additional shots and damage. Finally, Bagman is capable of launching mini-mines, the best implementation of an arcing/mine weapon I've seen in a long while. Tap the button to lay a single mine, hold down the button to bring up an arcing path, and dump a whole bunch over walls, in front of doors, and if you're good, right on top of the bad guys. Finally, these mines only explode when triggered by you or one of your grenades...or if a Nort steps on them.
Topping off your list of lethal goodies is four, count them, four flavors of grenade. Frags, sticky grenades, emp grenades and incendiaries. All can be thrown from cover, tossed quickly, or aimed with the same kind of visible arc as the mines.
Enemy A.I. is fairly crafty. Enemies will run for cover, attack in groups, and avoid rushing you headlong. The only real dummies of the game are the snipers, using 'hey, shoot me' laser scopes and never moving from their positions. Enemy encounters are usually crowded affairs, as well. Alerting one enemy by being noisy or missing a shot will bring a whole bunch running.
However, as you probably guessed from reading about your weapons loadout, after a while you go from being merely lethal to death eating a cracker. Your rifle is only so-so, but once you've gotten the shotgun and mortar launcher, the Norts don't stand a chance. Plus, the previously mentioned mini-mines have a RIDICULOUS range. Once you get the hang of it, you'll be able to drop a batch of these lil' wonders on top of your enemies heads from what feels like a quarter mile away. And they're unlimited. And you have them from the beginning of the game. Toss that in with Gunnar's ability to become a sentry gun, and all of Bagman's enhancements, and you'll be walking over the enemy in no time. Fortunately, you'll be having a hoot and a half doing it...all this freaky firepower adds up to major fun..
Graphically, the game looks good, but not outstanding. While there are some cool signs and logos littered around the city level, the whole thing is pretty generic photo-reel stuff...solid, but nothing you haven't seen before. Same for the character models and vehicles and such...everything is designed to give off that 'Heavy Metal' vibe Euro comics are famous for.
While the environments might look a bit budget, the weapon sounds and effects are nice 'n meaty, with big explosions and camera shakes accompanying your mines, missiles, grenades and bullets. Even with the silencer attached, your rifle has a nice menacing hiss to it.
Although they rely a lil' too heavily on the whole 'German accent (Soviet accent) = evil' formula, the voice acting is remarkably solid...no real standouts, but not a clunker in the bunch...not bad considering the whole shebang is voiced by five people.
It's good solid shooty goodness. About the only thing bad I can say about Rogue Trooper is that it's over too soon (three or four nights will about do it), and the main character is way-overpowered, especially with those tasty mini-mines! Hmmm...mini-mines. A real solid action title from the guys at Rebellion, and a good title to tide you over until the boys of fall arrive.
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Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends, Real War, Soldiers: Heroes of World War II, Robin Hood: Defender of the Crown, Sudden Strike, Sacrifice, Railroad Tycoon 3, Sudden Strike 2
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