Rogue Trooper Redux (Switch) Review – A Dinosaur of Cover Shooters
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch (reviewed), PS4, Xbox One
Developer: Rebellion / Tick Tock Games
Release: 17th October 2017
Before finding their destiny in the Sniper Elite franchise, developer Rebellion made various games, like an adaption of the pretty popular Rogue Trooper comic. Released in 2006 it was one of the trending cover shooters of that time and now, more than 10 years later, they re-release it in a remastered version. If this old shooter can still hold its own against time and if it can be a good first Switch port are the questions I first asked when it got announced. Sadly, nothing is too great about it.
A war between the North and South faction rages on Nu-Earth. After years of battles the planet became toxic, harmful environment, forcing the human armies into protective suits while they continue their destructive conflict. However, the South has one ace up their sleeve, the Genetic Infantryman”, short GI, blue men able to survive on this toxic planet without suits, making them the ultimate weapon until they discover a traitor in their ranks, leading to the death of hundreds of them. When Rogue´s friends die in this battle, he sets out to take revenge on everyone.
The original Rogue Trooper is 11 years old and it shows in its plot. Rogue Trooper Redux tells a story about revenge in a world of war but it never conveys a sense of competent storytelling. Since the only improvements were made to the gameplay and graphics, the dialogues, cutscenes, simply everything feels so damn old … or childish. The opening missions is mainly about losing the comrades and friends during war but because we spent no time whatsoever with them, the whole mission seems like one of those CoD “feeling”-missions. Their deaths feel fast, unimpactful and are filmed in such a clunky, wooden manner, I wanted to skip most of the cutscenes along the boring dialogues.
The plot is pretty much what you would expect from a revenge story and have seen dozens of times. There are no surprises, no unique aspects or interesting presentation. At least modern games can offer ways to present such stories in a captivating manner but this game is from a different time. Bursting uninspired camera work, bland characters and unasked philosophical questions, it leaves so much potential but fails at delivering anything but an old seeming writing.
Visually Rogue Trooper Redux is certainly not a great looking game either, having a very rusty technical framework repolished for modern consoles never leads to the best results. On the one hand, character models look actually pretty good and most of the effects and facial expressions are not bad but especially the environment and exterior environments look very old. From edgy rocks and polygonal shapes to mushy textures, static lighting or empty, blocky hallways. The whole architecture is simply old, no matter how good it might look. Still, for a Switch game, it´s actually pretty alright for a shooter and has at least some great looking passages. Just sad to see it running at 30fps.
The biggest improvements were made to the gameplay, a mostly generic cover based shooter. I didn´t play the original so I can only judge about the current feel of the game but even then, it´s not good. While shooting enemies feels a bit unresponsive, it works and is pretty fun, as long as the distance is not too long. Unfortunately, they fucked up the second most vital thing, the cover system. Nearly all shooters use the “cover button”-mechanic instead of the freshly trending “contextual” one, like in Mass Effect Andromeda, and the latter only works because the programming behind it is solid.
Now, Rogue Trooper Redux naturally needed to use the contextual one, a way harder one to program, and fuck it up. In a game where cover is so essential, it´s so painful to get in. Running in walls, delayed reactions, lacking feedback, the whole system feels slow, clunky and unresponsive, leading to a way worse experience than necessary, because the foundation may be generic but fun.
Sadly, the overall design is even worse, boasting so many old, frustrating mechanics without the slightest change. In theory, most of the levels are designed in a very open way, letting the player the free choice over his approach. Additionally, ammunition or grenade has to be built by spending material, enforcing a more thoughtful approach. At first sight it seems like a very modern design but most of these ideas are dragged down by the game itself.
For example, there are always enough resources to craft magazines or grenades, making the stealth approach, which is nearly impossible due to the simply too linear levels and numerous enemies, unnecessary. The whole game is so painfully average and old, not only in its more open levels but more action oriented passages as well. Shooting at pillboxes for some minutes or throwing 2-3 grenades at them isn´t fun, particularly if Rogue dies after a few shots and has to redo the whole thing. Rogue Trooper Redux is full of those things and the rare checkpoints just make matter worse.
There´s also a multiplayer but at least on the Switch it´s not really populated and pretty much the most generic cover based PvP possible.
At the end Rogue Trooper Redux is pretty much what everyone should expect of a slight remastered of a 11 years old game, a clunky, old, slow, mediocre designed cover based shooter. The story starts off promising but loses too much potential on it´s childish storytelling, the shooter mechanics are alright but are buried in a mess of wanna be enhancements and awful design but it looks pretty alright on the Switch. I had fun with it, for a few hours at least, before all these things caught up and never let go. If 2-3 hours of mediocre cover based shooter is worth 24.99? That´s your choice I suppose.
[A Review Code was provided by Rebellion]