Rogue Warrior Preview
Video games featuring military-trained badasses are nothing new; from Splinter Cell's lone terrorist-thwarter Sam Fisher to the many faceless war heroes players get behind during Call of Duty's battles, dudes with ass-kicking arsenals and colorful attitudes have fought for our freedom in countless action games. Bethesda's Rogue Warrior's gun-toting, throat-slitting military man-with-a-plan may look a lot like these other virtual tough guys, but he's not, because former Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko is the real deal.
Demo Dick, as he's often called, is based on a real-life hero who served two terms in Vietnam as part of SEAL Team Two and later was promoted to commanding officer of counter-terrorist unit SEAL Team Six. [Editor's Note: in the 80s, Marcinko was tasked by high-ranking officers in the Air Force to try and sneak onto Air Force One in order to test the security: he succeeded, and got out without detection. See more at Wikipedia.] More recently, he served as a consultant on television's 24. Needless to say, this guy has seen some action and, in the nineties he wrote all about it in his autobiography, the identically titled “Rogue Warrior”. The game's not only based on this bad-to-the-bone Navy man's life, but also his personality. Marcinko, now 68 years old, is deeply involved in the project, helping ensure players are rewarded with an authentic experience that encompasses both the action and attitude of Demo Dick.
Marcinko was on hand to talk about the game and, although older—the game takes place in the 80's—he looks strikingly like his in-game self. In the interactive world he's muscular, bearded, and sporting a ponytail; hell, if it was 1992, you might even mistake him for Steven Seagal. It's not just Marcinko's look that developer Rebellion has re-created, though. They've also put a lot of effort into including many of his favorite profanity-laced lines. The dialogue is brimming with Marcinko-approved gems like “April Fools motherf*cker” and many other one-liners laced with F-bombs.
Marcinko himself, though, is not doing the voice work. For that, Bethesda hired Mickey Rourke, currently a super-hot Hollywood property following his Academy Award-nominated turn in The Wrestler. Based on what I heard, Rourke seems like a good choice, delivering his four-letter-words with a personality that seems to suit the character. And “personality” is primarily what's carrying Rogue Warrior at this point. Based on my brief time with the title, I came away feeling the gameplay is a little too familiar, however, the fact it's based on a real-life SEAL's adventures definitely helps differentiate it from the crowded action/shooter genre.
Still, the developers are promising varying gameplay scenarios that'll run the gamut from stealth to run-and-gun. The aspect they were particularly excited to show off is the game's brutal kill moves. Sure, we've seen blood-spurting finishing kills in tons of games, but Rogue Warrior's are especially graphic and varied. Boasting over 20 gut-wrenching death-dealing animations, the game seems to be wearing its inevitable Mature rating like a badge of honor. There are, of course, the expected assassinations—Demo Dick can slit throats, snap necks, and toss enemies off ledges with the best of them. But, some of his more brutal life-siphons really do stand out; one particularly stomach-churning move sees the curse word-spewing hero jam a hunting knife into a baddie's forehead; another has him repeatedly stabbing an unsuspecting foe in the lower back.
Despite starring a real-life Navy SEAL voiced colorfully by a top talent, and featuring some of the goriest quick kills I've ever seen, I am curious how else Rogue Warrior plans on setting itself apart from the pack. There's definitely potential here for a fresh take on this familiar genre, and an interesting storyline taking place in 80's North Korea and Russia could help separate this one from the many me-too takes. If they explore this aspect, and deliver gameplay that can match its style and personality, Rogue Warrior could offer a nice alternative to titles like Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid, as the appeal of getting behind the moves of a real-life version of Solid Snake or Sam Fisher is extremely appealing.