Thursday, January 27

Game review - Rogue Warrior

    This is one of the biggest rip-offs in recent gaming history. Not in the sense that it rips off another game, but that it rips off the consumer.

    I’ve been playing a lot of crappy videogames lately. Sure, I’ve been playing good ones too, like Dragon Age: Origins and Medal of Honor (I liked it at least,) but I’ve also played crap like Kane and Lynch 2 and this…thing. Of all the bad games to release lately, Rogue Warrior is probably the biggest rip-off of them all. To sum it up, it’s less than two hours long and it released at $60 US. What the crap? Oh yeah, it’s a sucky two hours as well, and this coming from the publishers behind the 300+ hour long Oblivion is what really confuses me. Well, let's get this over with.

    Before I talk about this game’s many problems, let’s talk about the game itself. The story takes place during the Cold War (1986 to be more precise.) You play as a rogue Navy Seal, based on the real life ex-Navy Seal Richard Marcinko, whose team has been wiped out. Even after being ordered to abort and threatened with a court martial, Marcinko continues with his mission anyway. Marcinko is voice by professional boxer Mickey Rourke, and admittedly that’s kind of cool. It’s a first person shooter with a cover system similar to Gears of War and heavy stealth elements.

    There is one aspect to this game that I like – very few loading times. The loading screen before each mission is short and includes the mission briefing, which I kind of like. The briefings themselves suck (more on that later,) but it gives you something to look at. Also, there are no loading times when you re-load a checkpoint – the game saves all data and just re-sets it as it loads your checkpoints. This is something that developers simply do not use enough. Even good games like Mass Effect and Gears of War fail at this, so it’s refreshing to see a bad game eliminate loading times. Now that I’ve got that out of the way, it’s time to tear this fricken crap apart.

    First of all, this game is less than 2 hours long and it originally released at $60. I’m not even going to bother telling you how much of a rip-off that is. The campaign mode has nothing to bring you back either. No collectables, no alternate routes – just a straight line through useless enemy AI and simple story with a predictable ending. The game does have an online mode, but nobody ever played this piece of crap online.
For this game to have any challenge whatsoever, you’ll have to play the game on hard. Even then, the game is pretty easy for the most part. Why?

    The AI in Rogue Warrior is fricken stupid! No seriously, it’s almost as bad as Turning Point: Fall of Liberty. The AI loves to randomly just walk out of cover and right into your line of fire. Heck, sometimes they’ll casually waltz into the area that you’re already shooting at. They’ll even run towards you to avoid a grenade you tossed at them, only to get nailed in the head. There are times when the hard difficulty becomes somewhat frustrating because the game throws too many enemies at once with too little cover, but for the most part you’ll breeze right through it. Heck, on easy you have to try to die.

    On the flip side, the AI is impossibly aware of your position. It’s a stealth game, but the very second anyone sees you, even if they don’t have time to shout before you eliminate them with a silenced weapon, everyone immediately knows exactly where you are. Yeah, a stealth game where the enemy automatically knows where you are, even though back in the PS1 days the AI would search your last known position. Figure it out people, do you want a stealth game or not?

    The actual stealth system is simply broken in the player’s favour. Like I said before, the AI is rock stupid, but when they’re not aware of your position it’s almost impossible to get caught. You can stand right beside the enemy for ten seconds and they won’t even notice. Heck, sometimes you can walk two feet in front of them and they won’t spot you. In the year 2009 (when the game released) this is simply inexcusable in a $60 game. In other words, stealth gameplay is almost impossible to fail at.

    When you sneak up to an enemy, you can either shoot the enemy in the head with a silenced pistol or press A to “excecute” them. There are four wimpy animations to go with these executions, and they play depending on whether the enemy is by a wall or not. Fair enough, but even Turning Point had more animations than this. I’ll give Rogue Warrior this much, rather than looking incredibly unnatural, the animations in this game make the main character look lazy and apathetic towards his mission – an improvement.

    The cover system in this game is also broken. It’s hard to figure out what you can hide behind and what you can’t. There are plenty of walls and doorways that you should be able to hide behind but the game won’t let you. Worse yet, hiding behind cover severely limits your aim. For example, if you pop up behind cover, you can’t aim more than 10 degrees downward…why?  If you’re popping all the way up, you should be able to aim at least 50 degrees down unless you have serious joint problems. Heck, if you blind fire, you can only aim straight ahead or upward. If you do have serious joint problems like Marcinko seems to have, then WHY ARE YOU A NAVY SEAL? In every other cover shooter I’ve ever played, you can aim all over the place. Similar aiming limitations occur when you pop to the left or the right of cover, and this will get you killed a lot in the stupider sections on hard.

    Hit detection in this game is also very inconsistent – you’ll be aiming at someone’s head and fire off fifteen rounds and somehow none of them will hit, or sometimes you’ll nail someone when you think you’re aiming several feet away. Weapon damage seems wonky as well, as usually two or three shots is enough to eliminate an enemy, while sometimes they’ll survive ten or fifteen shots before they finally bite the dust. It’s also worth noting that sometimes your gun will fire when you didn’t even touch the trigger, HOW DOES THAT HAPPEN IN A VIDEOGAME?

    Before I get into the story let’s briefly talk about the game’s presentation. It sucks. Oh I’m sorry, you wanted me to be specific. Well, the graphics are just plain boring. Nothing visual is ever going on, the textures are lazy and look like a mediocre Gamecube title and the character models look like a launch title at best. Not spectacularly bad like Turning Point, but certainly weak. Wow, I’ve been referencing Turning Point a lot in this review. Anyway, the music is bland, feels out of place, and is obnoxiously loud half the time.

    The voice acting is, well, just OK. Rourke does a good job at making Marcinko as forgettable as possible, save for one minor detail. This is the most foul-mouthed game I’ve ever played, to a fault. Out of every sentence Marcinko speaks in this game, I think only two or three didn’t have any swearing in them. Nearly everything spoken in this game contains multiple uses of the f word, among several other words mixed in. Normally swearing doesn’t bother me, but here it’s so over the top that it might as well be the unofficial sequel to F*ck. Marcinko seems to have a particular attachment to the phrase “Goat f*@&” and that kind of scares me. Who screwed a goat? All jokes aside that is a common phrase, but learn some diversity please. The mission briefings are more about Marcinko complaining about his command and insulting the enemy than anything else. They’re barely informal and they’re boring – there’s really nothing else to say about them.

(the game was originally shown back in
2006 and this was a promotional shot.
Looks so much more interesting, doesn't it?)

    The story itself isn’t all that bad if you ignore it’s giant plot holes. Marcinko is sent to North Korea on a mission and his team is killed. He disobeys direct orders to abort and continues with his mission. Marcinko eventually finds out that the Russians have beat the USA to building a missile shield and are about to nuke capitalism into oblivion. To this game’s credit, that is a very epic concept. However, throughout the game you’ll disable a total of six anti-nuke missiles and apparently that’s enough to stop enough nukes to wipe out the entire planet 10 times over (the USA had enough nukes to do that at one point.) You also steal their missile guidance system, which is a small computer chip in a panel on the outside of a submarine – it baffles me why anyone would think that’s a good place to put it, or that they would only create one guidance system and not have any backups.

    It’s just like if the rebels in Star Wars sacrificed many lives just to acquire the Death Star plans, hid them in one single R2 unit without copying them, and attempt to deliver the R2 unit directly rather than sending them through some inter-planet internet system - even though they can hold hologram conferences through the galaxy without any time delay whatsoever. Oh wait, that actually happened in Star Wars: A New Hope; even good movies can have huge gaping plot holes like this. Anyway I'm getting sidetracked, back to Rogue Warrior.

    After the game finishes, you’ll be treated to the sweet, soothing sound of THE WORST END-GAME RAP SONG EVER! It’s cheesy background music that wouldn’t be out of place in an 80’s kids comedy show. The rapper is the voice of Marcinko again, just talking in a monotone voice about how he’s going to kill you and at least 1/5th of the words in this stupid song is a swear word of some kind. Seriously, the Donkey Kong rap is Oscar-worthy compared to this.

    Oh yeah, it’s one of those POC games where the difficulty level achievements are not cumulative either. I played through the game on the hardest difficulty setting, and while each difficulty has their own separate achievement, I only got the hard achievement. It was frustrating enough when earlier games like Quake 4 failed at this, but it’s simply inexcusable for a game released in 2009 and any developers that keep doing this deserve to be deported to a sad, lonely life on a deserted island with a single palm tree and a rotten old raft just to give them false hope.

    So how is this game overall? Well, it's really bad, but in some ways it's unremarkable. It's not even an interesting concept for a game since the stealth genre has been popular for a long time. It's really just a blip on the radar of modern gaming destined to fade into obscurity like "Awesome Possum Kicks Dr. Machino's Butt" for the Sega Genesis and "Pepsi Man" for the original Playstation. It's really not worth looking at, even for bad game enthusiasts. Now if you excuse me, I just got myself a Sega CD so I'm going to play that for a bit.

Two Word Review - Utterly Forgettable

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