Rogue Warrior is roughly based on the life and times of real life SEAL legend Richard Marcinko, well at least one particular (note; entirely fiction) mission of his. An intelligent blend of stealth and action put into a first person perspective makes the game a unique player in a time of generic shooters and war games. It’s a common thing that a game will promise too much and deliver too little, and Rogue Warrior promises a massive payload. Let’s see if it delivers...
Step into the shoes of Dick Marcinko, SEAL operative and badass to the max. Dick is a hard hitting, quick shooting demo expert that isn’t afraid to do what it takes to get the job done. He also likes to swear a lot. From the first cut scene to the last, and every gun fight and stealth takedown in between, Dick isn’t afraid to let his commy opposition know how he feels and what he thinks of them, with the largest array of cuss words and insults since happy-hour at an Irish pub. And it’s great! The game feels very mature, and this adds to the feeling in all the right ways. So take your potty-mouth and 12” monster knife behind enemy lines and take down the enemy nuclear threat before it’s too late. In case you hadn’t noticed, Rogue Warrior is set to a cold war backdrop where the nuclear promise seams very real, and all the more intimidating... not to mention angering for our cold-blooded protagonist.
As I mentioned before, Rogue Warrior throws stealth gameplay and action into the mix to make it stand out from the crowd. First Person shooters have never been very successful in the stealth market, so when a high-end game like this gets published, people imagine its either going to a massive failure or something really great. The game has all the common elements of stealth, even for games that aren’t part of the genre, like silent headshots and backstabs. But in Rogue Warrior, these aren’t you average backstabs. Get in close to an enemy and with a tap of A, you will be rewarded a beautiful display of violence as Dick goes all out on his unsuspecting prey with his handy blade, his bare hands and even the surrounding environment. However, even with these lovely displays of brutality, the game doesn’t have much in the way of stealth, despite being hailed as such a game. Sure, you can take a few baddies out with some cunning and shadow hiding, but when coupled with the games very dated AI, the stealth goes down drain quicker than Dick can blurt out one of his offensive one-liners.
The AI is worse than most original Xbox games. They enemies aren’t aware of their surroundings, they all have very small back-and-forth routines, they don’t know how to flank and heck, at times they seem to just sprint toward you even as you spray bullets from behind cover in blind firing goodness. They may take cover, but it’s all scripted. Once there, they won’t move, they won’t run (unless of course you throw a grenade within close proximity to them, in which case they usually run toward it very slowly), and they just bob up and down every now and then to spray some bullets your way. The missions all take the form of 5 minutes of stealth in which you can take out everyone with the aforementioned Kill Moves, and 15 minutes of run and gun action as you simply clear out each room in the same way; take cover and pop each enemy, one at a time. This ensure that the game only lasts a few hours and can be beaten in one sit-down if you can force yourself to keep playing mission after mission. For a stealth game, it should be safe to say that the enemies will not be able to hear you as you sprint like a madman up behind them, but in Rogue Warrior, that isn’t the case. There isn’t even point in using the crouch feature, as you can run around the first part of the levels like a crazy on speed and still manage to kill every terrorist your eyes can spy before their eyes spy you. On any given level, the majority of the enemies also seem to be facing the other way, no matter what they’re doing. It’s these examples of horrid AI and dodgy scripting that ruin the games overall experience.
When you first boot up the game and dive into the campaign, it seems very enjoyable for the first little while, maybe even whole first mission if you’re lucky. But you will soon see just how repetitive and similar every single mission is to the last, and soon realize just why you’re running through the game on hard difficulty without the slightest challenge. It’s not because you’re really, really good (even if you are), it’s because the Games AI could be compared to a Nintendo 64 game.
But when you inevitably pull yourself away from the campaign, try your hand at the online multiplayer. The level designs aren’t too bad, but they all feel the same, so it gets a little dull. If the game managed to pull more online payers it could potentially be great. The Kill Moves and Finishing Moves are great, but with only a select handful of weapons to choose from, in both single player and multiplayer, every match seems like the same thing over and over. It was a nice try, with its unique blend of stealth (no matter how shoddy) and action, but ultimately the multiplayer isn’t likely to not only go anywhere, but pull anyone in.
Upon the hyping of the game, Rogue Warrior was described as having ‘non-linear levels and freeform battlefields’ on many occasions. This is no more than a hope giving lie that is more untrue than saying the game is actually the next in the Fable series. The levels are all very linear and although at times you are put into a large open area, you must still go through it in one very linear, and very tight path that has you being forced to take cover and blind fire due to the games non-ability to flank enemies, because as soon as one sees you, they all do, and as soon as they all see you, they sure as hell don’t forget where you are or where you go until they lie face down in a pool of their own blood.
From the first time you get dropped behind enemy lines, the graphics will be the first thing you notice. The character models are great and the textures for the environment and models are very realistic and detailed. The guns look nice and the overall presentation of the game is above average. Not anything to write home about, but still a good example of graphical expertise.
The animation on the other hand is a little under par. When your opposition run about like headless chickens, they look stiff and solid and their legs move in a seemingly different realm then their bodies. And during some cut scenes, you will even notice Dick’s mouth doesn’t move as he continuously shouts profanities at not only his enemy, but his superiors over the radio. It’s a shame when gorgeous visuals are brought down by unspectacular animation.
The games sound-effects are brought to you by the great Oscar winning studio SoundDelux DMG. SoundDelux are one of the top sound studios in the world today, and their sound brings the battle to life. With detailed sound in both stereo and surround, the gun and explosion blasts are crisp and realistic. But even with good sounding gun-fights, there really does need to be a certain level of intriguing gameplay to go with it. And that’s something Rogue Warrior has a hard time delivering. Sound effects aside, Rogue Warrior also has some top notch voice acting. Oscar-nominee Mickey Rourke lends his voice talents for the games protagonist, and along with only another one or two speaking role in the game, sounds great.
The value for a shooter should be measured in the quality of the campaign, and especially multiplayer if the campaign is a little on the short side (or in this case, a LOT on the short side). The campaign lasts only 4 or 5 hours on the hardest difficulty and poses no challenge to be heard of. The multiplayer is near-dead, lacks any substance and has a very small amount of variety and playable maps. The great Kill Moves may be worth a bit due to their gory greatness and no-holds-barred brutality, but not by a long shot do they make up for the games down falls. This one is a definitive miss unless you’re starved for shooters and just want a few hours of non-replayable single player with a passable multiplayer experience.
The game promised to be a huge non-linear, visually exhilarating and above all groundbreaking shooter to shock the masses, but sadly, failed at all but the visuals. The game provides a very short, repetitive and dull single player experience, and while it is aimed at mature audiences, which is a fresh approach, hits none of the right spots while missing all the targets we the fans wanted. The multiplayer doesn’t deliver the goods and while the games looks great and sounds great, fails at providing the gameplay it promised. The stealth is lacking and the AI feels overly old. All in all, a game that started with good ideas and a great concept turned out to be a failure in the end and a letdown to all us hopefuls.
AAG SCORE: 5.5/10
- Kill Moves are brilliant!
- Top quality sound
- Great graphics and textures
- Letdown on promises
- Stealth is not noteworthy
- AI is very uncoordinated, mostly scripted, and above all; old
- Campaign is very repetitive
Reviewed & Written By John Elliott