Rogue Trooper Redux resurrects the pulpy goofiness of the original
Rebellion’s Rogue Trooper Redux feels a lot like a 2006-era shooter— because it is. If you never heard of or played the original Rogue Trooper, you’re not alone: one of the reasons Rebellion’s remastering and rereleasing it is that they don’t think enough people saw it the first time around. They’re so proud of the original, in fact, that the majority of their changes are limited to the art. The original looked something like this:
The new one doesn’t exactly look like a modern AAA shooter, but it’s a definite upgrade.
It’s also seen a number of convenience upgrades, too. Rogue Trooper was a cover shooter in the early days of cover shooters— just barely pre-Gears, actually. (It was also an incredibly pulpy comic from the early 80s, drawn by Dave Gibbons, of Watchmen fame.) The third-person shooter genre was new enough in 2006 that a lot of things we expect these days— automatic cover behind barriers, etc— were not yet standard. Redux adds that quality-of-life stuff.
What hasn’t been updated? The level design, for sure. A quick comparison with Let’s Plays of the original shows me that much of what I saw in the E3 Redux demo was basically just up-rezzed and refined copies of the original assets. Rebellion is also proud enough of the original’s gameplay that they’re trying to preserve most of that stuff, too.
They’ve also preserved the totally pulpy nonsense that characterized the original. Earth is now Nu-Earth, and the atmosphere is so poisonous that only genetically-engineered soldiers can breathe there. You play a dude named Rogue, a gigantic blue muscle-man clone whose three squadmates— Gunnar, Bagman, and Helm— die almost instantly after the game begins. Each of these clones apparently has a chip in their brain that holds their intelligence, and Rogue slots those chips into his weapons. Gunnar becomes— stop groaning!!— his gun, obviously. Bagman becomes his backpack. Helm’s his hat. They talk to him and crack wise while he rampages around the game, and they’re each associated with secondary abilities, like auto-targeting, auto-reloads, ammunition-crafting, and so on.
Listen: this shit is directly from the comic. The only actual difference I can perceive between Rogue Trooper the comic and Rogue Trooper/Redux the games is that the comics are black-and-white, while the games are in full color and the characters in them are, for some reason, blue-skinned. If you like 80s meatman warsoldier poppin’-neckvein pulp— if you like the Judge Dredd comics, for instance— this will probably make you smile.
I played the first couple missions from Redux and it sure as hell feels like a game from 2006. That said, it was silly and goofy and fairly over-the-top, and it made me smile. And— holy shit— it’s going to come out later this year on the Switch. (And PC, and Xbox One, and PS4.) This will make it one of the first shooters available on that device. Though it’s got some visual improvements, it doesn’t look like it will suffer visually from being on the Switch’s small portable screen. So if you’re looking for a goofy-as-hell blue-skinned meat man gunsgame, or if you liked the original Rogue Trooper and just basically want to play it again, keep your eye on this one.