The most recent, and most ambitious, attempt to bring a character from the pages of the 2000AD comic to gamers’ attention didn’t really have the desired effect. Dredd vs Death – now available for just a penny shy of a fiver – took the comic’s most infamous character and tied him to a console-esque first-person shooter that ultimately underwhelmed.
Undeterred, developers Rebellion, who also happen to own 2000AD, plucked out Rogue Trooper. An enduring character, yet rarely one able to warrant the comic’s front cover, the move has nonetheless proved inspired.
Set in the futuristic and distinctly unpleasant Nu Earth, you take the title role as a genetically engineered infantryman on the hunt for a traitor. And it’s not easy. This being the future, there’s heavy weaponry – really heavy weaponry – aimed in your direction. Still, there are ways to even the odds. You utilise, for instance, biochips left behind by your now-deceased colleagues, and these embed themselves in your helmet, gun and backpack.
It’s more than a gimmick, too. For instance, you can drop your biochip-enhanced gun and leave it on sentry duty, giving yourself some cover in the process, or you can salvage materials as you go along and get them traded up into useful new inventions and extra ammunition. It’s well implemented and, considering the breadth of what you can do, it’s easy to get to grips with.
The core of the game itself is a third-person, primarily action-based title, that sees you following a relatively conventional structure of pursuing mission objectives and shooting lots of enemies. It’s nowhere near as cerebral as a good game of Far Cry, but it is heavily action-packed and rewards different approaches. The usual cocktail of stealth, all-out action and sniping is mixed together, and unsurprisingly the result is a game with a fairly familiar taste.
Yet two elements give it some distinction. Firstly, the look and feel really is well implemented, and there’s little doubt you feel part of a futuristic and not very pleasant world. And secondly, there’s the sheer weight of the weapons. These aren’t piddly pistols and tame firearms you’re working with: for most of Rogue Trooper, you’ve got weapons with genuine power, and it really feels like it.
Wisely, the game then gives you some sizeable levels to unleash this power into, and for a good few hours at least, there’s some cracking entertainment here. It doesn’t last though, for a couple of reasons. The first is that there’s not a huge amount to play through. There’s also the fact that even though you can employ a variety of tactics to reach your goals, it doesn’t actually feel that varied. Fun, sure, but not hugely different.
And then, as strong as the look and feel of the game is, the graphics do start to get a little bland, and certainly don’t stand scrutiny against several of Rogue Trooper’s contemporaries.
Yet, in spite of its problems, this is a refreshingly entertaining blast. It might not have the depth, the downright cleverness or the replay value of a Half Life 2 or a Far Cry, but it’s content in its own little niche and offers plenty to enjoy.