Oxford developer Rebellion has quite the checkered history, stretching across 23 years and multiple platforms. Now best known for the ball-busting Sniper Elite series, its output ranges from classic (Aliens vs Predator) to not so classic (Rogue Warrior). Now, alongside fellow UK studio Tick Tock Games, it's revamping a PlayStation 2-era title based on cult 2000AD property: Rogue Trooper.
This is a third-person shooter set on the perpetual battlefield of Nu Earth, where the genetically engineered infantry of the Southers fights the shadowy Nort forces. This new "Redux" features a visual overhaul, tweaked cover system, additional difficulty modes, and online co-op. It certainly looks and feels like a PS2 remaster, but it runs smoothly on the PlayStation 4, with comfortable controls and sharp sound.
The story and universe are faithfully reproduced from the source material: an overt pastiche of several global conflicts in which the bad guys speak in German accents and wear gas masks. Accompanied by the disembodied voices of three squad-mates – whose biochips have been installed in his gear – our renegade GI is an unabashed science fiction Rambo archetype. In an age of blockbuster narratives in action games, there’s something charming about Rogue Trooper’s simplistic tale of endless war and revenge.
The game was praised at the time for its combat flexibility, which allows your blue-skinned protagonist to go in guns blazing, sneak and snipe, or demolish the opposition with explosives. Even now the selection of skills at Rogue’s disposal is impressively varied. Ammo and gear are crafted from salvaged materials harvested from dead enemies, which on higher difficulties introduces a survival dynamic that works surprisingly well. Use ammo sparingly and avoid taking too much damage or you’ll be wasting salvage on consumable top-ups instead of vital weapon upgrades.
The freedom of choice becomes evident a few missions into our six mission taster. After gaining access to most of Rogue’s toolkit, you set out on a mission to infiltrate a Nort base. The sneaking option has you snipe from distance, move in close for a neck snap, and use the environment to your advantage. The other option is to bring the noise – a more than viable choice thanks to a healthy selection of weapons. One set-piece has you unleash a pack of alien creatures as a chaotic distraction. A sentry gun and hologram decoy offer further tactical options, with the latter adding a satisfying way to play around with enemy AI.
Outside of the single-player missions, there's online co-op for up to four players; objectives-based incursions into mid-size maps made more enjoyable by the game's fun bag of tricks. That said, Rogue Trooper Redux certainly feels like a product of its time, but its sandbox mission structure still shines. Rebellion and Tick Tock seem to have done a great job polishing an oft-overlooked gem.
Are you up for some re-purposed, PS2-era action? Do you have fond memories of the original Rogue Trooper at all? Turn blue in the comments section below.