2006 saw the release of one of the gaming industry's most important games. A title that would forever change the landscape of how cover-based shooters should work. That game was Gears of War. What you may not remember is another cover-based shooter that came out earlier in the year and featured many of the mechanics that Gears of War boasted. Rogue Trooper released on the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC, and later got a Wii port in 2009, but by appearing so late into the lifespan of those consoles, it was mostly forgotten. Now Rogue Trooper Redux is coming to try and give the game a second chance with a new audience.
I got a chance to play the first six levels in the campaign on the Xbox One. If you played Rogue Trooper back in 2006 and was hoping this would be the exact same game, well good news: you're pretty much getting what you wanted. When it comes to gameplay Rogue Trooper Redux has left it almost entirely untouched. All the mechanics from the original have carried over, leaving the experience exactly as it was when it first came out. If you're looking for that 2006 third-person shooter experience, you've come to the right place.
Of course how good that is will be slightly debatable to some. On one hand, I did really like getting to see a game preserved in such a way, and there is some fun in relearning all those strange tricks of the time. Little things like the way you can sort of dodge roll your way through terrain that I'm not entirely sure you're supposed to be able to get to can make for some hilarious encounters. The game also features an early cover system that sees the soldier you play as automatically taking cover and sticking to chest high walls littered around the battlefield. From here you can blind fire to force enemies into cover, or pop up for more aimed shots.
It's actually really interesting seeing how these systems were handled before they became streamlined. Of course, that also means they're rather clunky. I ultimately found myself trying to avoid getting near cover during these early levels, as getting unstuck from it was annoying and they rarely actually seemed to provide any cover. Thankfully I never felt too punished by ignoring this feature.
You'll also gain some abilities as you advance. Rogue can set up his gun like a turret, allowing him to create traps and choke points in the environment. There's a feeling of satisfaction when this all works out, and I was always surprised when a game from 2006 offered me more options than a new release. At times it doesn't really work as I'd hope: the turret AI seems kind of wonky and doesn't always hit where it's aiming. Hopefully, this can be ironed out before release.
There are some other issues I'm getting that I'm sure are holdovers from the pre-Gears of War period of the third person revolution. Aiming felt wonky, like I was never quite shooting exactly where I was going for. Enemy AI often seemed brain-dead, doing little more than standing in one place during firefights until they got killed. I encountered a stealth-based level, but the stealth felt basic at the best of times and flat out didn't work at the worst. At the very least, it wasn't a mandatory stealth level and I wasn't met with a game over screen upon failure.
As mentioned before, you play as Rogue. He's part of a race known as GIs, who are bred for war and are resistant to the toxins on Nu-Earth. They're currently in a conflict with another group known as the Norts. By the end of the first six levels, all of Rogue's friends were dead, but he uploaded their personalities into his gear so they can live on while helping him still. We also learn that there's a traitor among the GIs, passing information along to the Norts while framing Rogue as the traitor. It was enough to get me interested to see more, even if I couldn't help but laugh at how cheesy it all was. This is the point of course, as the game is heavy in goofy Starship Troopers-style satire.
I've been talking about all the things that Rogue Trooper Redux has kept the same from the original game, but what's different? Just the graphics. That is all that has been changed. They're a good improvement, though they look more like late PlayStation 3/Xbox 360 quality than current generation quality. One thing I wish the game had is a button that switched between current and old graphics, just to really drive home how much better the game looks.
Almost like opening up a strange time capsule, I enjoyed my first hour and a half with Rouge Trooper Redux, but I also saw some notable flaws that I'm worried will begin to overtake the game during its full run time. Still, if you want to relive your memories of this shooter exactly how you remember it, then you should waste no time looking into grabbing this remake. If you want something a little more modern, however, you may want to wait and see if the rest of the game manages to hold together.
Rogue Trooper Redux was previewed on Xbox One using a copy provided by the publisher. The game will also be available on PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, and PC on October 17th.