Speaking on a purely personal level, news thus far released of Rogue Warrior had inspired nothing more than apathy in me. It wasn’t one of the busiest games at the Eurogamer Expo (though it never seemed to be adandoned), so perhaps many other people felt the same? Was it an exciting shooter that made good use of the experiences of the real – life Navy SEAL character, or was it a brainless shovelware piece destined for the bargain bin? Time to sit down and find what it was really like.
As soon as the opening cut scene had ended and I was given control, I was instantly put in mind of the Rainbow Six games. It’s difficult to say why; good as they are, they don’t have a particularly distinctive art style. On top of that there are no squad mechanics (certainly not in the portion of the game I was allowed to play); the appeal seems to be very much one of you against the world. And that’s no bad thing.
My Rainbow Six comparison seemed justified the first time I took cover against a wall however when, as in those games, the camera switched to a third person view. And what a view! I’m not talking about any technical wizardry, but the fact that I got a good look at my avatar. Not only did he have fantastic facial hair, he had a ponytail as well! What a combo! Hilariously this character is, as previously mentioned, based on a real life person – ex Navy SEAL Dick Marcinko.
And doesn’t that name just go perfectly with the hair and face glove?
Marcinko is by all accounts… well… nuts. Crazy. One issue short of a Deagostini magazine collection. Very much in a way that means you’d never say it to his face however, and this comes across in the game. During cut scenes and gameplay alike, he’s constantly swearing gruffly (via Mickey Rourke) and talking about those damn “commies”. You can’t see his face while he’s shooting foreigners in either first or third person, but I at least imagined that to be the only time his face threatened a smile.
Then there are the instant knife kills.
The game introduces these to you by inviting you to sneak up behind enemies, implying a stealth kill mechanic. The truth is that it doesn’t matter what angle you approach the doomed communist scum from. Get close enough, hit the right button, job done. You’ll activate a brief cut scene showing Marcinko take out the worthless commie marxist satanspawn with his knife in an unerringly brutal manner, and then carry on your way. While these kills are almost laughable in their overly macho presentation, they can be seen as a nice reward for getting close to an enemy without being shredded by bullets.
Some restraint is required; trying to run through the middle of the levels spraying bullets everywhere will certainly get you killed. A recharging health mechanic is in place, which means that you’ll be taking cover little and often. One thing I noticed, which didn’t prove to be a problem but did annoy me, was that you can’t move whilst reloading in cover. You can thankfully move whilst reloading outside of cover, I’m happy to report.
You may by now have gathered that Rogue Warrior isn’t the most subtle or intelligent of games. That said, good use of cover is important as I’ve outlined above, and standard FPS tactics – such as firing in short bursts and aiming down the barrel of your gun for more accuracy – look to be still rewarded (and sometimes necessary). One potential issue is one of difficulty. I breezed through the one mission I was allowed to play and, while I like to think that’s because I’m an unbeatable FPS god, I must reluctantly consider other possibilities.
Before being thrown ungraciously from the TV, I asked about difficulty levels, and found that I had been playing it on the second of three. So there is one higher difficulty level; but as I wasn’t able to test it, I have no idea just how much the difficulty is ramped up.
There will be eight player online – only multiplayer (which wasn’t available at the expo), but no co – op. Given the whole ‘on your own behind enemy lines against impossible odds’ atmosphere of the single player (which I can only presume carries on throughout the story) that’s excusable. How will the game as a whole pan out? From what relatively little I played, it’s impossible to say. It could be dumb fun… or just dumb.