When it comes to re-releasing an old property—whether in movies or video games—many companies seem to be either like Disney or 20th Century Fox are with their Blu-rays: give it the best effort and make it worthwhile (Disney) or do the bare minimum and make some easy money (Fox). Sometimes, lower effort can be justified in video game re-releases if the original game holds up well without any major modifications, but is Rogue Trooper Redux, as a re-release of a 2006 game, one of those titles? In short, not really.
“Welcome to Nu Earf.”
Rogue Trooper Redux is set in a post-apocalyptic future in which two warring factions, the Norts and the Southers, fight over the planet Nu Earth, whose environment has become toxic due to the use of chemical weapons and is uninhabitable without the use of protective chem-suits at all times. In order to more effectively combat the Norts, the Southers created Genetic Infantry, or GIs: blue-skinned soldiers (who look like Commander Zavala from Destiny) who are immune to the toxic environments of Nu Earth and whose personalities, consciousness, etc. are stored within mechanical chips in their bodies.
After many GIs were massacred, your character, a Trooper named Rogue, must find the people responsible for his fellow GIs deaths with the help of other GIs whose bodies were destroyed but personalities live on within equipment Rogue carries. As you progress through the campaign, more and more will be revealed, but in reality, nothing about the story is particularly compelling or inventive. It is honestly all a bit cliché, but if you are anything like me, you will not go into this game expecting anything more than that and as such, will not be disappointed.
What is important about Rogue Trooper Redux, however, is the gameplay. As a cover-based third person shooter, it succeeds in giving some optional variety to encounters with how you can take out enemies using what you have within your arsenal. Each of the GIs who join Rogue throughout the campaign (by living on in his equipment) provide several new weapon types and abilities, all of which help in giving different ways to kill the Norts.
Gunnar, the gun you carry, starts off as essentially an auto-rifle but also has the capabilities of a sniper rifle and later a shotgun and rocket launcher, and be placed as a turret to take out enemies. The backpack, Bagman, gives you the ability to heal yourself and drop land mines. The helmet, Helm, gives you radar to locate enemies, salvage (for upgrades, ammo, and medipacks), and objectives as well as provide a decoy hologram to draw enemies. These, along with the ability to use stealth at times, add some welcome variety to what would otherwise be a relatively generic game.There are some missions where you will sit in a mounted machine/rail gun that act as palate cleansers from the standard missions. All of this variety is very welcome.
The campaign has a decent length with 13 main missions which can be completed in a few hours if you just stick to the objectives or 6-10 hours if you are a completionist like me. There is an online co-op mode that from what little I played, is essentially a horde mode and is reasonably fun, albeit basically the same as what is in the main campaign. There is also some unlockable artwork and lore that fleshes out the background for the story as well.
If playing the game on the Switch, any of the different control options work well enough, though the Pro Controller is best when playing on the TV. Handheld mode was my preferred way to play—in part because the game is not really a graphical showcase—but it’s good to know that as with every other Switch game, it plays well regardless of your chosen method.
All of that is what I like about Rogue Trooper Redux. I was expecting a very generic third-person military shooter with blue men as the protagonists and nothing too special. In fact, the first two levels had me convinced that the game was going to be just that. But as I went on, I found that even though the gameplay is not perfect and the visuals are somewhat dated, there is something in there with so much potential to be a genuinely good game. The problem is that despite the potential it has, there are some flaws that keep it from being a genuinely good game, let alone a great one.
“Eyes up, Rogue.”
One of the problems is that Rogue Trooper Redux just lacks polish. It feels like the developers improved the visuals but left the rest alone as though it would still hold up well today. But even with the improvements, the visuals are still reminiscent of an early PS3 or Xbox 360 title. The character models are reasonably good, but the animations are stiff and the combat feels about as smooth as Greek yogurt (it’s like regular yogurt, but with sand). The visuals are not terrible by any means (and frankly, do not bother me), but the clunky mechanics are a problem.
The movement feels sluggish, especially since there is no way to sprint. The ability to vault over objects or climb is inconsistent. The fact that there is no way to manually reload your weapons (they automatically reload when the clip is empty, but not quickly) becomes frustrating in the middle of a firefight.
The stealth option, unfortunately, does not work very well most of the time (in part) because the cover system is unreliable. Half of the time you try to go into cover, it just does not work as the way to go into cover is by pushing against whatever you want to hide behind, rather than just having a button. Even when going into cover works, you cannot easily move between cover points and will usually have to leave because the camera makes it difficult to see enemies well enough to aim.
Then there is the camera. When aiming down sights while behind cover, often the camera has you looking at the cover itself (especially when using the sniper rifle) or blocks your view with Rogue’s back, making it difficult, if not impossible to see an enemy. The camera issues may be less of a problem behind cover because you are somewhat protected from fire, but they become much more of an issue when not behind cover in the heat of combat.
Aiming is not particularly smooth nor responsive enough, especially when compared with other third-person games that came out in the same time frame. Changing the sensitivity of the right analog stick can help somewhat, but I found that I had to constantly change the sensitivity depending on whether I was on foot versus in some type of mounted gun. Some type of aim-assist (more akin to Destiny than a lock-on mechanic) could have made the aiming a whole lot better and in turn, improved the game. The ideal would have been to add the gyro-based aiming of Splatoon, but that is not something I expected, nor will I hold it against them.
Despite my complaints, Rogue Trooper Redux is not a bad game. It is even one that I keep playing despite its flaws. And I intend to finish the entirety of the campaign.
But it is one of those games that just came at the wrong time. It is one of those games that might be a nice distraction when I needed one or a nice filler game in between releases for the Switch. But it just does not stand out as anything special. It has hints of brilliance here and there, but the clunky gameplay and the fact that it has been given little more than a graphical bump over the original make it feel out of place in a year filled with so many better games out there. Rogue Trooper Redux is a decent game that could be made a whole lot better if it was simply modernized even a little bit. It really has so much potential to be legitimately good or even great if given the proper treatment. But the game is like a Blu-ray from 20th Century Fox of a pre-2005 movie: it feels more like a cash grab than a legitimate effort.
If none of my complaints have deterred you—especially if you played/enjoyed the original or read the graphic novels upon which the game is based—I would still suggest waiting to buy the game until it goes down in price and there is not such a massive deluge of great games already available and coming to Switch.