It might make for a very boring second opinion, but the only area where Andrew and I diverge on Rogue Trooper is that I think he scored it a hair too low.
It's entirely true that Rogue Trooper could be classified as a standard third-person military combat game, but it's also a perfect example of where flawless execution and intelligent design make the difference between something that's average, and something that should be recognized as noteworthy. From the opening scenes to the closing credits, the developers, Rebellion, show a sophisticated level of finesse, common sense, and intuitively correct decision making.
For a budget-priced game, the graphics are smooth and create a very cohesive, believable world with plenty of atmosphere. I've paid $50 for games that don't hold together as well as this. Ample checkpoints show that the designers have a heart, and each level showcases a strong array of both moment-to-moment and long-term goals. One instant, the only thing on my mind was diving away from an incoming grenade. The next, my talking helmet was reminding me that there was a fortress door in need of breaching deeper within the area. This balance keeps the energy level high, and the motivation to keep moving strong.
Going further, Andrew's absolutely correct in pointing out that there are a wealth of small touches that other games get wrong, or simply don't bother to include in the first place. For example, rather than breaking crates to find health packs inside, Bagman (Rogue's sapient backpack) is able to manufacture healing kits that are created from scavenging the remains of technology and fallen soldiers on the battlefield. Ammunition and weapon upgrades are created the same way. This shortcut taken to deliver the goods to the player is not only convenient, it builds upon the technology themes and reinforces the concept of a genetically superior, self-sufficient soldier. This seemingly innocuous decision (along with a host of others) adds believability to the usually impossible "lone warrior" premise.
Although Rebellion nailed the game everywhere it counts, I do agree with Andrew about the storyline. For some strange reason, the writers built up a few plot points and make the game seem like it's going to be over after just a handful of levels. It isn't, but a lot of dramatic tension was lost when things didn't resolve the way I thought they should. Although there's still a lot of tight, engaging gameplay left after that point, the segments don't mentally connect together as well and it goes from feeling like a superb soldier story back down to the level of the average action game. Unfortunate, but not a disaster.
Before playing Rogue Trooper, I had only vague knowledge of the license's comic book origins. But, the game's nihilistic, dystopian world is a perfect setting for a war without end—my brain was immersed in the game's world, and my hands were willing participants in its tasks. After watching the credits roll, I was so motivated that I went online and tracked down a graphic novel. Instead of being something that makes a halfhearted attempt at doing justice to its inspiration, Rogue Trooper takes a completely solid core of gameplay and does what so few licensed games manage to do—it enriches itself with a perfect treatment of the source material. Budget-priced games just don't come this good, and I eagerly await Rebellion's next project. These people know what they're doing.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody's looking, and his favorite game of all time is a toss-up between the first Mass Effect and The Witcher 3. You can catch his written work here at GameCritics and you can hear him weekly on the @SoVideogames Podcast. Follow Brad on Twitter and Instagram at @BradGallaway, or contact him via email:
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