Originally released on consoles in 2006, Rogue Trooper was an enjoyable but ultimately forgotten third-person shooter from the bygone PS2 era. Thankfully, it’s now been reborn—like some futuristic blue-skinned super soldier—as Rogue Trooper Redux on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
I grew up in the 1980s, well before seemingly every American geek was caught up in the throes of rampant Anglophilia. We had our own beloved UK imports, of course, but, in this pre-internet age, what we didn’t have was a lot of context. The name Doctor Who simply conjured up images of a curly-haired man with a very long scarf, and, while we knew the bass line moved us, we didn’t generally grasp the cultural significance of The Clash’s “The Guns of Brixton.”
One of my earliest picks from across the pond was 2000 AD, the British comic book anthology series that first introduced me to the likes Judge Dredd and Bad Company. My favorite, though, was Rogue Trooper.
A Genetic Infantryman (GI) lab-grown to survive the poisoned environment of war-torn Nu-Earth, Rogue is the last survivor of both his platoon and his kind. Betrayed by his creators, the Southers, and hunted by his enemies, the Norts, he’s a one-man army aided only by the biochips harvested from his comrades’ bodies.
War, the Fallout series regularly reminds us, never changes. So, while lots of the 2000 AD tales I read were tempered with a measure of indecipherable Old World slang or culture, even an American adolescent could see where Rogue was coming from. He was a man out for justice. A man driven by revenge.
Rogue Trooper Redux—as they say—ain’t Shakespeare, but it’s a fun and faithful retelling of this twisted war story. It opens on the GI’s trans-orbital deployment to the battle that would come to be known as the Quartz Zone Massacre. Tipped off by the aptly named Traitor General, the Genetic Infantrymen are slaughtered by the awaiting Nort army. It’s a low-impact trainer mission for the player, and it does a good job of setting up the game’s fiction without overloading you with unnecessary details.
The main point, and the thing that helps differentiate Rogue Trooper Redux from other futuristic shooters, lies in the unique genetic makeup of the GIs. Each soldier’s skills, experiences, and personality are stored on a biochip seated in the back of the skulls. After death, there are a few precious moments during which these chips can be removed and, ultimately, placed into a new body. The fact that this means GIs can never truly escape war is not lost even on the characters themselves.
Functionally, this means that Rogue is able to carry his friends with him throughout the game, and they remain his only true allies. Crack shot Gunnar is mounted on Rogue’s rifle and aids in your mission by adding aim assist and a sniper scope—hell, he can even be deployed as a sentry turret to provide cover fire. Supply officer Bagman is attached to a backpack, where he can use salvage recovered from fallen enemies to craft ammo, med-kits, and gear upgrades. Lastly, you manage to locate and reacquire hacker Helm, who is placed on—wait for it—Rogue’s helmet, where he can override security doors, decrypt data, and project holograms to draw enemy fire.
Sure, the names are a little groan-worthy, but this was the 1980s, after all.
The visuals in Rogue Trooper Redux have seen a significant upgrade from the game’s original incarnation. On the Switch, at least, some of the characters’ hair looks a little last-gen, but overall the GIs, Norts, Southers, and their apocalyptic surroundings, while not exactly groundbreaking, look good. Perhaps more importantly, though, the game world has a consistent, cohesive visual design that helps Nu-Earth seem like a real (and ceaselessly dangerous) environment.
Mechanically, Rogue Trooper Redux similarly ticks all the boxes. There are ample opportunities to employ stealth, complete with the requisite silent kills, and to go in guns-a-blazin’. Various unlockable and upgradable weapon types offer lots of options to suit your preferred methods of mayhem, with everything from pistols to grenades to the occasional mounted heavy machine gun available for our enterprising GI. The cover system works well and, in a battle where you are perpetually outmanned and outgunned, that’s not to be understated.
Disengaging from cover, however, can sometimes be a little touchy, and the game’s control system—particularly employing the oft-neglected directional pad to do things like administering med-kits—does take a little getting used to. Personally, I also found the default sensitivity to be woefully lacking. After cranking things up the 215% (?!) range, I did manage to get my bearings.
If you’re going into Rogue Trooper Redux expecting a flawless AAA experience, you may be underwhelmed, but at a budget price ($29.99 for the physical PS4/Xbox One release or $24.99 digitally), it’s an unexpected jewel of a game. This is especially true for my fellow Nintendo Switch owners, as it helps set the standard for the long-neglected portable third-person shooter.
At its low cost of entry, I am more than confident in recommending Rogue Trooper Redux for fans of sci-fi shooters looking for a new game world to explore. Of course, if, like me, you already have a strong connection to the world of Rogue Trooper, this title is exactly the nostalgic bloodbath you’ve been waiting on.
Review materials provided by: Rebellion