Being a gigantic, muscle-bound dude who walks around half naked, uses a talking gun and has bright blue skin, Rogue Trooper must be as easy to recognise as the Incredible Hulk. Despite this, the authorities feel the need to put out TV broadcasts warning people to look out for this most wanted (massive, murderous, a bit blue) fugitive.
Rogue is a Genetic Infantryman, bred to be super strong and able to breathe the poisonous atmosphere of Nu Earth. The ultimate weapon of the good Southers in their chemical battle against the nasty Norts, he’s the last of his kind – the sole survivor of a massacre organised by the Souther Traitor General – and he’s on the trail of the man who sold him out.
The story was originally told in a 2000AD comic back in the early ’80s and the game expands on it slightly by allowing the doomed GIs to survive the carnage long enough to have a couple of battles together. Once they’re killed, you’re left with just Rogue and his three biochip mates. Slotted into his semi-autonomous equipment, they provide a stream of chatter and don’t really seem to mind that, until a few moments ago, they were a trio of giant, muscle-bound blue dudes. Now they’re computerised personalities in a machine gun (cool) a robot backpack (also cool) and a hat (the short straw).
The game is a surprisingly competent third-person shooter that first appeared on Xbox in 2006 and has gained a new control system makeover and a slightly enhanced splitscreen mode for its launch on Wii.
Rogue sticks to bits of scenery (in theory) to take cover and you can pop up to shoot enemies, fire blindly or lob grenades. The main gun can be upgraded with add-ons such as an underslung shotty and a silencer for the odd scripted stealth sequence, plus you can stick it on a tripod to make an automatic turret.
The shooting works well, with the remote making it easy to pick out swift headshots or hit the Norts right in their backpacks, resulting in a humiliatingly fiery death. Twisting the remote to zoom in and out with a sniper scope isn’t quite as easy, but the view is stable enough for you to hit things from a decent distance.
Hurling grenades isn’t so good, because you’ve got to rely on the Nunchuk’s motion sensor. In fact we’d go as far as to say it’s so rubbish we simply abandoned explosives except in the instances where we were required to use them. You have to raise the Nunchuk to bring up a targeting marker and flick it down to throw, but it hardly ever worked for us. We threw the odd accidental grenade and very rarely managed to get the whole targeting thing going.
The cover system doesn’t always pick the best places to stick and sometimes leaves Rogue’s head exposed to the elements, but that’s true of pretty much every similar game. Ammo is plentiful enough to treat the experience as a run-and-gun effort anyway. You actually make ammo and other commodities using bits you’ve salvaged from the battlefield. Dead Norts drop weapons that can be melted down in the magic backpack and turned into bullets, health packs and upgrades, allowing for at least a small amount of customisation.
The Rogue Trooper universe is splendidly realised, with suitably toxic-looking locations and cartoon villains. It’s a shame that the action doesn’t vary a huge amount and the game is fairly brief – over the course of about eight hours you’ll have shot the same soldier a thousand times – but fans of the comics will appreciate the effort that’s gone into this.
We encountered the odd bug here and there, such as soldiers getting stuck in crates or frozen in suspended animation. One time Rogue clipped clean through the ceiling after climbing on a box, leaving him stranded in no man’s land, walking around outside the level. But there’s more than enough good stuff to compensate for the occasional rough edge.
One enhancement to the Xbox version is the addition of a four-player offline mode where you can team up to complete a handful of objective-based maps. Having never played it in its original guise, we were pleased at how smoothly it runs and how satisfying the gunfights could be, although we wish the noise of the main weapon was a little beefier. It sounds about as deadly as a spud gun. Good stuff, in all, and certainly one of the better shooters on Wii.
Mar 18, 2009