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Rogue Trooper Review

Written by Sean Aaron on Thursday, 23 April 2009No Comment

Rebellion are a veteran British development company and Rogue Trooper is based upon a popular British comic from veteran British comics publisher 2000 A.D. which makes for a good combination in this fun 3rd person action game for the Wii.

If you’ve never read the comic (and as of this writing I can say that I haven’t) the story is laid out as follows: Nu Earth is a human colony world in the future that has been wracked by unending war between the Norts and the Southers. The Southers have created the Genetic Infantrymen (GIs, get it?) who are super soldiers that can fight without the cumbersome breathing apparatus required by normal human soldiers.

You take on the role of Rogue, the last survivor of the GIs, who is attempting to seek revenge against the traitor responsible for the massacre of his fellow soldiers. He’s not really alone, however as the personalities and knowledge of the GIs are encoded on computer chips which can be removed from their skulls at time of death and slotted into equipment or new clones. Rogue and the personality chips from three of his colleagues make him a one-man army literally as well as figuratively. It’s an interesting concept that makes the game stand out in the sci-fi themed action game market.

Rogue’s colleagues are installed into three pieces of equipment: Helm is in Rogue’s helmet and is used to hack doors or enemy computer systems and create distractions via holographic decoys. Gunnar is in Rogue’s rifle and provides some targeting assistance as well as the ability to act as a sentry by putting the rifle on a tripod. Bagman is in Rogue’s backpack and manufactures extra ammunition and new weapon mounts for the rifle from material scavenged on the battlefield and off of dead enemy troops.

Whilst originally a PS2/X-Box title, Rebellion has done a pretty good job of bringing it to the Wii without having it feel like a cheap-and-dirty cash-in and in the process have demonstrated that the Wii pointer makes for an excellent control mechanism for 3rd person action games as well as 1st person shooters.

The visuals are quite good and appear to be faithful to the comic with nice use of colour and respectable polygon counts. Surround sound is well-implemented and your chip colleagues will chime in with little comments or useful information — though this can be turned off if the banter is annoying you. The voice acting is top notch and the cut scenes are a mix of in-game engine and pre-rendered footage that compares well with the rest of the game visuals.

The basic controls work well: the pointer controls the gun and — in an improvement over Resident Evil 4’s controls — the camera, with a user-configurable dead zone and vertical and horizontal sensitivity settings. The B button fires; the A button is used for contextual actions or diving for cover when moving. C is used to crouch (this can be set as a toggle if desired) for avoiding fire and sneaking up on the enemy who can then be dispatched with a click of the A button. The + and - buttons bring up menus for viewing an area map and manufacturing ammo and equipment or making use of your colleagues’ abilities to act as sentry and distraction. The d-pad enables switching of guns and grenades as well as toggling sniper mode and using medical packs to restore health.

The nunchuk control stick is used for movement as well as aiming and throwing grenades using motion controls with the aiming portion being the weakest of the controls in the game. Aiming a grenade throw involves entering “aiming mode” by tilting the nunchuk up which shows the arc for the grenade throw. The distance can be altered by the control stick and then the grenade thrown with a flick of the nunchuk. Unfortunately there is no user settable sensitivity for the nunchuck tilt so on more than one occasion I found myself entering this mode (which disables the character movement) accidentally. I would have thought using the Z button (otherwise used only for targeting enemies from behind cover) to toggle this function would have been better or even just using the pointer to indicate the target for the grenade throw. When it works, it works great and if you don’t care about aiming your grenades a quick nunchuk flick will also throw one straight ahead.

The game is structured as a series of missions which see the character going through urban battlefields and alien landscapes on foot broken up by a couple of vehicular rail-shooter sections. Most missions are fairly linear with several objective points and numerous enemies, but you have a good deal of flexibility in how you dispatch them which keeps the action from feeling repetitive. You can snipe from a distance and try sneaking in for quick kills or move from cover to cover shooting down enemy soldiers as you go making use of holo decoys to draw fire or putting down your rifle as a sentry and then flanking using grenades or your pistol. The enemy AI is quite good: enemies take cover and will move forward to attempt to outflank you, liberally throwing grenades. Once under cover enemy soldiers tend to stay there, so don’t expect to just wait for their heads to pop-up to be hit by your sniper fire — a welcome change from 1st-person shooters like Call of Duty.

Whilst some reviewers have criticised the game length, I actually appreciate a game that provides a good bit of fun and can be finished in a few days of play with the basic campaign being enjoyable enough for a replay. There are two further difficulties to try out and cheat settings to play with which get unlocked after the first playthrough as well as bonus images which are unlocked by reaching certain milestones in the game.

Rogue Trooper stands out for two big reasons: it’s one of very few 3rd person action games on the Wii and it’s a good quality game based upon a licensed property. Rebellion deserves credit for making a quality translation of this game for the Wii and I’m pleased to see a new independent face in Reef Publishing bringing it out. I’m looking forward to future titles from this pair; may I humbly suggest Judge Dredd?

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