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Rogue Trooper Redux May Be 11 Years Old But It Might Just Surprise You

Remember that time when Rambo blue himself?

Amidst the continuing stream of remasters and re-releases, there’s a good proportion of these games where you’re left wondering why they’re seeing the light of day. I must admit I felt the same way about Rogue Trooper Redux, a remake of Rebellion’s 2006 third person cover shooter, and yet having played the game’s opening, I’m pleasantly surprised at how well it holds up over a decade after release.

Certainly, for those of a British sensibility there’s the charms of the game’s origins and the source material that it’s derived from. Based on a comic from 2000AD, it puts you in the boots of the brazenly shiny blue and bare chested Rogue, a genetically engineered Genetic Infantry super soldier that has been bred to withstand the hard environment of the war ravaged Nu-Earth. The battle between the Norts and Southers has raged for decades, turning to every chemical and biological weapon they could to win. The Genetic Infantry are the Southers’ latest super weapon and unleashing them on the battlefield should have been the decisive turning point in the war, but for a traitor in the Southers ranks.

Only a handful make it to the ground, and even then, they’re heavily outnumbered and dropping like flies – it kind of makes not wearing armour and being such a noticeable shade of blue with glowing eyes seem like a bad idea. As he finds his squad in the battlefield, they’re cut down soon after, and it’s here that one of the amusing twists in the universe comes forward, as each has a biochip in the base of their skull to remove that preserves their personality, memory and consciousness, ready to be popped into another body down the line.

“Even when we’re dead we don’t escape from war,” Rogue says to a dying comrade Gunnar early on in the game, before he takes the chip and puts it into a convenient slot on his gun – I see what they did there – while Bagman gets to live in Rogue’s backpack and, while I’ve actually forgotten his name, there’s a third character who slots into Rogue’s helmet. I can only assume he’s called Helmet Guy, or something.

As you gain these companions during the first few missions, they each bring something new to boost Rogue’s capabilities. Gunnar will add a degree of auto-aim and targeting highlights for you, while Bagman is always on hand to turn the salvage you gather from fallen enemies and turn it into ammo, grenades and more. Finally, Helm – I’ve looked his name up now – lets you play Holodecoys, and there’s further new gear and abilities that you earn and upgrade through the game.

Rogue Trooper was at the very forefront of the wave of cover-based shooters that proliferated through the last generation, releasing a good six months before the original Gears of War. Of course, where Gears was a 360 exclusive at the time, with a blockbusting budget and a top of the line graphics engine, Rogue Trooper was instead a PS2 and original Xbox game. It’s almost a little bit surprising how good the game manages to look, even considering that it’s been overhauled with new assets, dynamic lighting, special effects and so on. The only real sore spots is the amusingly dodgy lip syncing that is all teeth baring, all the time, and the Genetic Infantry’s utterly inflexible necks, which must make looking down really tricky and painful.

Similarly, you can feel some of that age in the way that the game plays, though TickTock have also revised the control scheme to wrap it up in a layer of modernity as well as an automated cover system that sees rogue crouch behind cover just by running at it. However, there are still a few aspect that feel of the era, almost as if they’ve been left in there to hark back to what some kids in secondary school probably already consider “retro”.

In particular, grenade throwing is clunky, whether with a short ranged toss or when you bring up the throwing arc that feels impossibly awkward to deal with in the middle of combat, especially because you can only seem to do it out of cover. Similarly, it just feels a bit odd that the blind firing just aims straight ahead and doesn’t follow where you’ve pointed your camera.

They’re minor points in an otherwise comprehensive, if somewhat unexpected remaster. I’m only a few missions in, but as someone playing it for the first time, I’m certainly enjoying my time with the game and I’m having fun being a big blue genetically modified Rambo.

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