I’ll get straight to the point: Rogue Trooper Redux is a really deep cut. Based on a British 2000 AD comic series (the same publisher who brought us Judge Dredd), the source material for Rebellion’s eponymous 2006 PS2-era title has been given the remaster treatment courtesy of UK-based developer Tick Tock. Sure, it may be one of the most obscure comic book adaptations to grace our consoles, yet the more meaningful question is: is it worth playing in 2017? Well, if you’re on the market for a pretty antique “blast from the past” style war shooter, then, this might be exactly what the blue-skinned field medic ordered.
You are the titular Rogue Trooper, a genetically manufactured “Souther” super soldier who has been bred and developed specifically to help quash the looming nazi-esque Nort threat. The nasty Norts have devastated the futuristic “Nu-Earth” with biological and chemical weapons which have laid waste to the majority of the world’s flora and fauna, leaving behind an atmosphere that is lethal to humans.
Luckily, your genetic makeup – and those of your fellow blue-skinned Souther brethren – are impervious to the deadly toxins that now linger on the barren planet like a toxic billowing fog. Your immunity to the harmful atmosphere that surrounds Nu-Earth gives you a dexterous edge over your competition, as it’s essential for your opponents to wear clunky breathing apparatus in order to survive the planet’s harmful gases.
Your task is to help take the battle to the Norts in a key region known as The Quartz Zone and execute a sneaky pincer attack on your gas-mask toting foes. Unbeknownst to you, this surprise incursion is merely a big ol’ trap, as a Traitor General – a focal antagonist in your main campaign – has tipped off the Norts to your astute war plans. Where’s Admiral Akbar when you need him?
Suffice to say, after a brutal opening onslaught where your fellow comrades are all mowed down in cold, calculated fashion, you emerge as the against-all-odds lone survivor. Saddled with the responsibility of battling your way through an assortment of Nort bases alone, you must bring justice to those who have annihilated the planet and seek revenge for your lifeless Souther pals. Even though their bodies are deceased, in a nice twist, a few of your compadres are able to tag along for the ride, despite having bitten the dust.
See, Southers have their bio-chips implanted in their necks, and if these are recovered in time, then your amigo’s personality chips can be slotted into your gear becoming one with you on your journey into the Nort strongholds. Essentially, your fallen comrades become sentient AI voice-based companions, a little like KITT from Knight Rider (another deep cut!). It’s a pretty neat idea that helps add a little welcome personality to your journey.
Narratively, the story is unsurprisingly pulpy and throwaway with some cheesy dialogue and hammy writing. I guess that’s fitting for a comic book adaptation, but honestly, I was expecting a bit more. Though there’s some nice commentary on the disposable nature of war; the characterization, tone and overall plot often feels reminiscent to Guerrilla Games’ Killzone series. Truth is, the Helghast are a compelling antagonist, whereas the Norts merely feel bland and characterless by comparison.
Thankfully, the third-person shooter gameplay is definitely where Rogue Trooper Redux steps up its game. The core gunplay feels pretty damn sweet, with an emphasis on using cover, running-and-gunning and shooting from the hip. New guns are drip-fed nicely, along with some cool upgrades and new equipment. Upgrades can be purchased from a menu at the touch of a button and these are mostly handy damage power upgrades for each specific weapon. Before long, I was shotgunning foes in the face, raining down volleys of powerful mortar strikes on dastardly pillboxes, activating holographic clones of myself to confuse my opponents, and placing automatic turrets to take out unsuspecting grunts. It’s anarchic fun and the satisfying action is doled out at a steady, consistent clip.
That said, the game’s age does show in some core areas of the experience. Aiming can occasionally feel jerky by modern standards, the newly overhauled cover system is mostly pointless as blind firing is ridiculously inaccurate, and popping out from cover is mostly a crapshoot, as many cover positions simply block your bullet’s line of fire. These issues don’t spoil the entirety of the action, but they’re quibbles that highlight the original source material’s decade-old design. Additionally, AI can be incredibly foolish and the over-reliance on the bevy of on-rails turret sections (as was the de jour ten years ago) occasionally gets a little long in the tooth.
Rounding out the six to eight hour campaign is the inclusion of a couple of online co-op modes for up to three other players. Stronghold sees you hunkering down, waiting out the clock and surviving against waves of enemies across two different maps. Meanwhile, Progression boasts three maps and sees you fighting your way through hordes of enemies to get to a safe-zone. They’re both fun distractions (I preferred Stronghold, personally), and definitely helps add a little extra value to the overall package.
From a historic perspective, it’s interesting witnessing the foreshadowing of Rebellion’s other gameplay motifs which also bleed into its other franchises. There are embryonic mechanics from the studio’s other games hidden within Rogue Trooper Redux; the one-hit-kill mini-boss takedowns would play a key feature in its 2010 FPS Aliens Vs Predator, while slo-mo bullet kills within Rogue Trooper’s cut-scenes are also a key feature taken from its Sniper Elite tactical shooter series. It’s fascinating seeing the developer’s unique DNA beginning to take shape ahead of its evolution into other more successful franchises.
Presentation-wise, this remaster looks pretty decent with revamped character models, textures, lighting and an across-the-board resolution bump. It’s a visually appealing title, especially considering its age, and highlights how well a decade-old shooter can still stand the test of time all these years later. Aurally, there’s a subtle, throbbing electro-synth score that complements your bleak, gritty journey fittingly.
What’s truly impressive is how Rogue Trooper Redux still surprisingly stands the test of time. It’s a fun little curio that, in this day and age, doesn’t necessarily excel at anything per se. However, if you’re after a solid, old-school “blast from the past” style shooter, you could do far worse.
This review is based on the Nintendo Switch version of the game. A review copy was provided to us by Rebellion Developments.
Rogue Trooper Redux is a fun little curio. If you're after a solid, old-school "blast from the past" style shooter, you could do far worse.