Upon it’s original, Rogue Trooper was considered a defining classic in the action/adventure genre. Many critics and fans express how this cult classic is a game changer and a vital component in the evolution of action games in the shift to the 7th generation. However, with Gears of War released a few months after, Rogue Trooper became a forgotten gem. Many didn’t acknowledge or even remember it by the end of 2006 while Gears of War rose to fame. While remastering a cult classic is a great gesture to the fans, I have to ask: is it important after a decade to bring it back? Will Rogue Trooper Redux make us appreciate this classic even after 11 years?
2006 was an important year as the influences of Resident Evil 4 and Half Life 2 impacted many 3rd person action games for years to come. Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter, Rainbow 6 Vegas, and Gears of War were making waves but many forget about Rogue Trooper and what it brought to the genre. I have to say I’m kind of surprised that during its original release, it didn’t get more attention. There are certainly some great concepts to enhance the tactical elements of the standard run and gun gameplay that make it a smart shooter. But then again there are some drawbacks, especially as this is just a simple remaster.
You take on the role of Rogue, a genetically engineered solider who’s on the warpath with the Nords on Nu-Earth along with thousands of others. What starts out as a standard operation soon turns into a massacre with Rogue being one of the last few fighting the war. It’s up to Rogue to take out the imperial leader and finish off the Nord armies once and for all. I was surprised this actually won a BAFTA for the screenplay, considering how immersive and challenging the comics were. I used to read the comics in the early 2000’s, and it shocks me that the story in the video game is rather dull. There are interesting themes and a compelling lore at the heart of the comics with Rogue himself being more than your standard action hero. But the game just ends up being a very generic, paint by numbers revenge tale.
Rogue lacks any personality along with the supporting cast who are just there to shout out one liners or state the obvious with tactical approaches. Dialogue is just flat with exchanges in game being very bare bone, lacking wit, humour and substance. The voice acting does help to give a sense of personality, although it may be over the top at times, it does feel right with the tone of the narrative. However, the game also finishes on a cliff-hanger ending which will most likely never be resolved, unless Rebellion is actually working on a sequel as I write this.
Rogue Trooper does have some neat concepts for tactical gameplay, which if explored further could’ve been ground-breaking. For example, you can set up your rifle as a sentry gun allowing for additional cover or to use as a distraction while you flank an enemy position. Planting mines can create traps for oncoming assaults or to secure areas which enemies might flank from. Rogue can scavenge for scrap that allows you to craft ammunition and weapon upgrades which replaces finding and collecting ammo overall. These are great ideas but are flawed by certain factors which interfere with how effective these elements are in the game.
The main reason why these tactical elements don’t work is due to the poor enemy AI and the flaky cover system. Rogue Trooper resembles that era of action games where the cover system wasn’t as refined as Gears of War. It feels like a poor man’s version of Epic’s shooter series. To go into cover, you have to walk forward into said cover which can be a pain if you want to simply interact with an switch or button and instead mount up against the wall. Hiding and firing behind cover is very restrictive as you can’t move along walls, and blind firing is prompted with a button and an animation you can’t skip. This reminded me of Kane and Lynch’s cover based system or Resident Evil 5 which were impractical at best. I only found this to be helpful a handful of times throughout the campaign as the controls were more effective to just go out and shoot.
Yet, the cover system becomes redundant as the enemy AI in Rogue Trooper is completely dumbfounded. They tend to hang in groups making it easier to take them out with a well-placed grenade or simply resort to charging to your position where you can blast them with the shotgun. I will grant Rogue Trooper a point for it’s variation in mission objectives and how you can tackle certain objectives in multiple ways. There are also some grand set pieces which by the standards of 2006 were impressive, but nowadays just stands as glorified turret sections.
I’m disappointed at Rogue Trooper Redux as frankly, it’s a poor remaster. Take a game like Metro which was remastered a few years ago; the developers not only refined the visuals but improved the controls and certain mechanical elements to enhance the gameplay. Redux simply improves the visuals, but a large amount of environments including exteriors and interiors still look empty and void of life. Some textures look nice and the character models look great but the world just lacks detail and visual depth. Environments tend to be empty unless you count the hundreds of creates that litter most interior areas and the backdrops and landscapes lack depth, making this feel beyond last gen.
Rogue Trooper may have shown great promise with the action genre at the time, but it’s strange to remaster this without putting in more effort to refine and fix certain issues that game still has. It’s fun and very creative with its tactical elements which I do praise highly. However Rogue Trooper feels largely restrictive and without vital tweaks, it’s difficult to grasp for the modern gamer and even those like me, who’ve played action games since the PSone. The cover mechanic is the big issue as it feels shallow and tacked on at the last moment, seeing how awkward it is to just simply go into cover and use it effectively. Among the enemy AI affecting the use of certain tactical mechanics, this ends up as a generic, straight up shooter and an average one at that.
I feel Rogue Trooper Redux comes a little too late as a remaster and a complete remake would’ve been more suitable. There are some great ideas here, but they’re underwhelming in execution for today’s standards. Rebellion’s original efforts should be praised as it has mechanics that can make it a smart shooter, but a simple remaster does not give justice for a game that’s aged badly.