As soon as Microsoft announced the Xbox 360, first-party support for the Xbox practically disappeared overnight. This left the third-party publishers in a lurch, as there was still a huge game market “out there” for Xbox titles, and while the 360 may get all the press these days, the original black and green box is still getting great games. Case in point – Rogue Trooper, which at first blush seems a silly and sad attempt at one-upping Microsoft’s much-maligned (thought hugely hyped) Brute Force. Spend a little time with Rogue Trooper, however, and you quickly realize that it’s a solid game that’s a lot of fun, and that the Xbox is certainly far from being as dead as Microsoft wishes it were.
Rogue Trooper follows a by-the-numbers sci-fi comic book storyline – on another world called Nu Earth, there’s a seemingly perpetual war raging. The military creates an army of genetically engineered super-soldiers to fight the enemy menace, and that’s where you come in, as the blue-skinned trooper named Rogue. Rogue and his team are dropped into a series of battles that cost everyone their lives, save Rogue, who discovers that this wasn’t the usual military operation – it was a traitor’s way of taking out Rogue’s combat buddies. So, the player, playing as Rogue, jumps into action and heads out looking for revenge.
Rogue Trooper would be a simplistic 3rd person shooter if it were not’ for the “bio chip” feature, which lets the player continually upgrade and improve Rogue’s abilities. By collecting the bio chips from fallen allies, you gain new, and frankly – pretty useful, skills and abilities. For example, in an early mission, you work alongside Bagman, a soldier who constantly supplies you with grenades, ammo and other items as needed. It’s not long before Bagman takes a bullet to the brain pan, and you swipe his bio chip. This chip gives you the ability to manufacture ammo and weapons at any time, so long as you’ve collected enough scrap parts to do so. Collecting scrap is a simple process, you just kill something, and pick up the scrap it leaves behind. The more powerful the enemy, the more scrap he leaves. So you won’t be able to kill waves of simpletons expect to collect all the scrap you need to create super-weapons. The bio chip system, coupled with the scrap collection/creation engine help give Rogue Trooper a sort or RPG feel, without requiring you to pull up character sheets and become buried in the minutiae of skill trees and character stats. The bio chip upgrades are nicely spaced out, preventing you from being too super too early on in the game, and the AI provides enough of a challenge to keep you looking for the next great upgrade.
What first strikes you visually about Rogue Trooper is that the army of super-soldiers is blue. That’s right, the deadliest squad of soldiers in the universe – and they look like Smurfs. Armed to the teeth, mind you, but Smurfs. While this is a bit off-putting, once you jump into the action, you’ll become numb to the weirdness of using Papa Smurf to take down waves of AI enemies. Other character models, while generic, get the job done, as do the environments. The game really doesn’t push the Xbox hardware in any way, but the visuals are adequate enough to keep you from turning it off in disgust.
With all its simplicity, you’d think that Rogue Trooper wouldn’t be as enjoyable as it really is. At first, it feels like another ho-hum shooter, but once the bio chip system kicks in, you’ll quickly begin to enjoy yourself and find the true gems of joy within this game. It’s no award winner, but it’s certainly fun, and a good purchase when you’re in need of a new game on the platform that Microsoft has long forgotten.
- Gameplay: 7.5
- Basic shooter mechanics with a little boost from the upgrade system
- Graphics: 7
- Functional but far from fancy
- Sound: 6
- You could turn off the volume and not miss a thing
- Replay: 7
- You get your money’s worth
- Overall: 7.5
- An enjoyable action title for those of us who have yet to jump on the 360 bandwagon