Rogue Warrior Review
Based on Navy SEAL Dick Marcinko’s popular books, Rogue Warrior presents us with the story of an elite military officer involved in a lot of undercover, black bag-type operations. We must take advantage of everything from stealth to reactions to our surroundings if we wish to survive, which translates to a setting and concept most reminiscent of a Splinter Cell title. However, while it may be familiar in style and atmosphere, Rebellion’s terrible effort has nothing in common with Ubisoft’s stellar franchise. There are so many problems with Rogue Warrior that you can never really overlook them long enough to have fun; you’re constantly frowning at the screen, wondering how such a product could ever make its way through QA testing. It could’ve been slightly entertaining had they at least captured the tense, brutal feel of an undercover SEAL in the midst of constant life-threatening situations. But they go so far overboard, it’s downright comical. Any excuse to drop the f-bomb, right guys? ‘rolls eyes’
The first cut-scene had me somewhat encouraged for about ten seconds, until I actually started to look around. And then, I landed on the ground, the gameplay began and in about five minutes, I knew I was playing a game that looked and felt like a PS2 offering. The textures are awful, the detailing is bland and in some cases, borderline non-existent, and the animations are so stiff and unrealistic, it’s actually really funny. Enemies will literally slide into cover as if we’re all skidding around on ice, corpses will flash, flicker and often bounce and jerk, and the supposedly nasty blood effects are just plain silly. Particle effects from explosions are amazingly lacking – you normally only see a few sparks and a lot of smoke – and every level is drab and almost entirely devoid of life. The bottom line is that we’re always very aware of our lackluster surroundings and the technical hitches like screen tearing and clipping is painfully prominent. Graphics aren’t everything but if you can’t manage to produce something better than this for current platforms, just don’t bother.
The sound is actually worse. While the visuals at least had the benefit of some okay cut-scenes, there’s really no highlight for the sound category. The soundtrack is only fitting for a B action movie; it’s insanely repetitive and the balancing is way off, as it will often entirely drown out any voices or effects. In general, the sound bounces all over the place; sometimes it’s the effects that rip through your speakers and other times, the soundtrack takes a bizarre and unappreciated front seat. Now, I don’t think the voice actor who plays Marcinko is bad; I just think he has some of the worst lines in history. His stupid one-liners and constant string of abusive language erases any semblance of authenticity the game may have had, and in turn paints such heroes in a significantly negative light. Apparently, this guy is all about death and chaos…it just doesn’t reflect the sanctity of life I know our military embraces. Therefore, the voice fails in this respect, while the music – while potentially decent for the atmosphere – grates and the effects are as generic as generic can be.
The gameplay. Where to begin. Let’s see: the collision detection is awful. One shot might take down an enemy for good, while another enemy will require ten shots at the same range with the same weapon. Enemy AI is atrocious. It’s the AI we expect to see from the PlayStation generation; foes will predictably pop their heads out of cover on a routine basis, there is no exhibited intelligence (i.e., flanking techniques, desperate rushes, etc.), and they were all born without ears. Each mission has you either sneaking up on enemies and executing some disgusting kill with the simple press of an X button (several of which are hardly stealthy), or just gunning down hordes of the same soldier, over and over. Most carry the same weapon, they all “slide” into cover or zip around at abnormal speeds, and because they apparently can’t shoot Marcinko when he’s in the midst of a special kill, we’re supposed to believe he’s a superhero. Or maybe they’re just so stunned at his amazing skills, they all stop attacking. I don’t know.
What I do know is that this is a colossal mess. The controls are decent but there’s no weight behind your movement and the physics are all wrong. You can move almost as quickly when crouched as you can when standing, and aiming is always a chore, especially due to the aforementioned collision detection issue. Sprinting into battle and killing everyone with your knife is actually preferable because as I said, you’re immune when performing that kill. The only problem here is that there’s a definite delay when pressing that X button for the kill; quite honestly, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I found myself jamming the X button quickly when in close just to bypass this annoying issue. You can take cover behind certain objects, but this strangely turns a standard FPS into a third-person shooter, which is very disconcerting. On top of which, because the enemy has pinpoint accuracy at all times (yep, standard old-fashioned crap), popping out of cover can often get you killed.
Then there’s the attitude and feel of the game, which I briefly mentioned above. I get that these guys are supposed to be psychotic and almost entirely amoral, but in a good way; i.e., “we have to be to get the job done.” But why does this need to be drilled into our skull every ten seconds? During the start cut-scene, the gruff Marcinko is explaining his crew and it couldn’t possibly be more clichéd. One of the guys just randomly tosses up a middle finger at nothing in particular. Then there are the comments during battle, which just make it seem as if we’re hunting a pack of rabid animals, with no fear of anything because we’re just so bad-ass. Rebellion needed to reign this in; instead, this pervading stupidity ruins the atmosphere entirely. It’s either funny or just plain sad. The story is essentially non-existent, there are no interesting things to do in any given mission, and the repetitive nature of this adventure is almost unparalleled. I’m certain Marcinko did more than just climb ladders and slide down ropes.
Rebellion should’ve taken a few cues from Ubisoft because if Rogue Warrior had been similar to any Splinter Cell, it would’ve been great. But nothing appears to be right. Really, only the control is a possible saving grace but that’s not enough to compensate for the tremendously bad presentation, design, style, and overall gameplay. The graphics and sound are some of the worst you’ll ever hear this generation, too. So in the end, if you couldn’t have guessed by now, we’re recommending that you pass on Rogue Warrior. It’d be a pass even if it fell to $20 in the bargain bin…at $60, you’d have to be one hell of a masochistic gamer.
3/9/2010 Ben Dutka