Reviewing a remaster is always a difficult task, as figuring out the best way to approach it can be half the battle. When Rogue Trooper came out in 2006, it was a game that tried a couple of new things, and they were very cool to see at the time. Now rereleased as Rogue Trooper Redux for a new audience, many of the things it tried have been perfected elsewhere, diminishing the original appeal. Does the game still manage to hold up like it used to, or should it have stayed in your memories?
Rogue Trooper Redux puts you in the role of a Southern G.I. known as Rogue. An attack from the opposing Nort army sees the G.I.s deployed against them, but a traitor sells out the G.I.s and causes their deaths. Rogue survives and manages to upload his three best friends into his gun, backpack, and helmet. Now the four of them set out to discover who the traitor was and get revenge. You can assume the story’s satirical intentions thanks to the fact that everyone has dumb names that spell out exactly what they are. For example, Rogue’s (who goes rogue) three friends are named Gunner, Bagman, and Helm, and you can easily figure out who’s getting downloaded into what based on that alone. Beyond this, the plot doesn’t really go anywhere. Early on there’s a big deal made about the Norts getting a poison that specifically works on G.I.s, and this is promptly never brought up again. One of the villains just sort of stops showing up partway through the story, while the game ends on a super unsatisfactory note. You could skip every cutscene in the game and miss nothing.
When it comes to gameplay, you’re looking at some totally average third-person shooter basics. Rogue has access to a few different weapons and can take advantage of cover to tackle various enemies. Maybe this was a big deal in 2006, but it’s not 2006 anymore and this simple gameplay doesn’t really cut it. One of the big features of the game was its cover system, but it’s almost shocking how useless and annoying the system is today. Anytime Rogue approaches something he can use as cover he’ll stick to it like the floor of a movie theater. Getting Rogue off of cover was more difficult than shaking my editor as he hounded me about using the correct tense in my sentences. Unlike my editor, cover was almost always useless. Enemies could easily shoot Rogue through it as his head is usually sticking out, and I often wasn’t able to shoot back for reasons I couldn’t figure out.
Problems like this made playing the entire single-player campaign painful throughout its seven-hour runtime. Aiming always felt off, as I never really seemed to hit what I was pointing at. This problem may stem from a lack of feedback, as my assault rifle often felt ineffectual as I shot enemies who wouldn’t react to shots until they died. I could switch to one of my other guns, but the assault rifle is the only weapon that actually seemed to do what I needed. The shotgun never hits, a mortar is more likely to kill myself than what I point it at, and the rocket launcher is only for specific situations. The other problem is that switching weapons is a difficult process, with the weapon menu being difficult to read and navigate. If you aren’t constantly moving your cursor in it, the game will decide that’s the weapon you wanted and trap Rogue in a lengthy animation he can’t break out of. You never knew how much you appreciated weapon wheels until you had to navigate this mess.
Rogue also has a pair of skills, neither of which I could find much use for. He can deploy his gun like a turret, which provides a sort of backup in theory. In practice, the turret rarely hit the enemies and mostly just seemed good at getting you stuck with just your weakest weapon alongside a vague distraction. His other ability allows him to create a hologram to distract enemies, which basically serves the same purpose as the turret but actually allows you to use your good weapons. In the end, I found myself forgetting about both skills. Similar to weapons, it also required navigating an annoying menu to pick a skill, which is another reason to avoid them.
The game also gives you the option of engaging in stealth. Similar to the cover mechanics, stealth is a totally broken system that I found myself ignoring. The game is just simply not designed with stealth in mind, and enemy positioning is just not laid out in a way that actually makes stealth viable. Not like it really matters, as enemies will instantly know when you’re in the area even if you’re being stealthy. Ultimately, it’s just a feature you should totally forget, and at least there are no mandatory stealth segments. Sometimes you’ll also be dropped into a turret segment to break up the gameplay a bit, but much like many turret segments in video games they’re not very interesting for long and outstay their welcome rather quickly.
It’s not like fighting the Norts is much fun anyway. There’s very little enemy variety here unless you find a whole world of difference between “enemy with gun”, “enemy with gun and more health” and the always exciting “enemy with shotgun so he needs to charge you”. The enemy AI shares in this lack of variety, being solidly stuck in “dumb as a brick” territory. More than once, I witnessed enemies that just flat-out forgot they were in combat, wandering off like nothing was happening. I also saw many a Nort staring at walls, like the Traitor General himself told them it was the secret to defeating Rogue.
You can loot scrap from enemy corpses as well as finding piles of it around the battlefield. You can’t just take ammo from enemies, you’ll need to use this scrap to create it instead. Scrap is also used to create upgrades for your guns, nearly all of which are some form of “hold more ammo”. The good news is that scrap is so plentiful in the game, and upgrades are so cheap, that I never once needed to really ration it in any way. I could just instantly buy every upgrade as soon as it was available while keeping myself fully stocked with medkits and ammo. It makes the system feel pointless overall.
Strange systems like this littered the game as well. For example, there’s no way to manually reload your gun. Rogue will just choose at random when he feels like reloading. Sometimes, I’ll be at half ammo and Rogue will just refuse to reload, causing me to go into a fight totally unprepared. Other times I’ll only be missing a few shots and Rogue will decide reloading in the middle of a fight is an appropriate action. I can’t imagine adding a reload button would be particularly difficult. Another weird design decision comes from the game’s health packs. When you’re wounded, you need to use them to heal, which is fine. However, there’s no way for you to actually see how many health packs you have unless you go into the crafting menu to make more. More than once I found myself trying to use a health pack I didn’t have because the game couldn’t provide a simple number next to the health bar.
Once you’re done with the game’s single-player, you can hop into the multiplayer, a pair of co-op game modes you can play alone or online with up to three other players. There are two multiplayer modes offered: Stronghold and Progressive. Stronghold is a wave-based survival mode where you need to protect some wounded G.I.s from waves of Norts, while Progressive mode is just short co-op campaign levels that require finishing before a time limit expires. All of the issues from the campaign are present here, plus a lack of maps (there are only 3 Progressive maps and 2 Stronghold ones) means there’s very little reason to touch these modes unless you really want to share the pain with a friend or two.
If there’s one nice thing to say about Rogue Trooper Redux, it’s that there was a decent graphical polish applied for its update. As I mentioned in my preview, the game isn’t quite up to current generation standards, instead looking like a late game from the last generation. Still, it’s quite impressive when you compare the two side-by-side and my only regret is that there isn’t an actual button in the game to switch between the two graphics so I can do this easily myself. This is at least more than I can say about the game’s forgettable soundtrack or its iffy voice acting.
In a way, it’s tough to write this extremely scathing review of Rogue Trooper Redux. I like the idea of giving a real graphical update to an older cult classic and rereleasing it for people to replay or discover. It just requires understanding that some games do not age even remotely well, and some games shouldn’t really be taken from your nostalgic memories and thrust back into the spotlight. Maybe Rogue Trooper was a decent game in 2006, but it’s an outright disaster in 2017. This trooper should stay rogue.
Rogue Trooper Redux was reviewed on Xbox One using a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
I get the feeling that Rogue Trooper was once an average game that had a few neat ideas. The problem is that it's now 2017, and nearly all of its ideas either don't work properly, or have been improved upon everywhere else. Rogue Trooper Redux is a perfect remastering of a game that shouldn't have been remastered.
- Nice Graphical Updates
- Story is Dumb, Doesn't Go Anywhere
- Sloppy Aiming
- Cover System Doesn't Work
- Stealth is Broken
- Enemies Are Boring, AI is Dumb
- Terrible Design Decisions