Rogue Warrior Review
It doesn’t take more than a few minutes of playing Rogue Warrior to realize that the game sucks. I was already privy to this fact, of course. I opted not to spend much time checking out the E3 build at this year’s show, because the game didn’t look interesting in the slightest. Only a little coercion from the real-life Dick Marcinko, who was looming ominously in Bethesda’s closed door kiosk on the show floor, could’ve convinced me otherwise. Not that I think Marcinko’s not a nice guy. He may’ve been a stone-cold killer, but he seemed willing enough to hang out in Bethesda’s closed-door kiosk on the show floor chatting amongst journalists and Bethesda demo reps.
Still, I’m guessing Marcinko probably doesn’t play a lot of video games himself. Otherwise he’d likely want to bring the hammer of pain down on the guys at Rebellion, who, regardless of whether or not they were actually split between development of Rogue Warrior and the controversy-swilling Aliens Vs. Predator, were all clearly paying far more attention to the latter. In case you need any more proof as to just how much Rogue Warrior sucks, Marcinko, played in the game by Mickey Rourke, basically lets you know as much as soon as you get control of Marcinko. After dropping with two teammates behind enemy lines in North Korea at the start of the game, his buddies get killed really quickly by a trap grenade. Marcinko’s desk jockey boss then radios in, asking what’s going on.
The hardened warrior replies, “It’s a total goat f—k!”
Now, I don’t know exactly how much involvement Marcinko had with the game itself, but I think the ridiculous lines Mickey Rourke yells at his enemies were more or less based on real life phrases that Marcinko was known for, and likely uttered on the battlefield, during his years of combat experience. That’s all well and good, but in the context of a video game, where most FPSes revel in some degree of god-awful, Aliens-esque military dialogue, lines like what we get in make it tough to take anything seriously. Modern Warfare may not exactly be Shakespeare, but at least you’re unlikely to laugh at its narrative, sparse as it may be, for reasons of unintentional hilarity. Had Rebellion actually spent any noticeable amount of time making Rogue Warrior, Marcinko’s off the wall expletive-ridden comments to his enemies might’ve come off with some tongue-in-cheek charm. Even Bethesda seems to have known this, since they were giving away Rogue Warrior t-shirts emblazoned with F-bombs directly on them. But the joke’s on them, on Rebellion, and on us, (it’s really just a slap in the face to Marcinko, who probably deserves better) because the game is a buggy POS. In fact, Rourke’s running commentary when dealing with enemies quickly becomes pretty much the only reason to keep playing. The gameplay may bore you to tears, but you’ll likely want to keep playing just to hear what the hell Marcinko will say next. Adding to the entertainment is the fact that Rourke sounds like he was drunk when he delivered at least half his lines.
Sadly, this is not enough to keep an entire game from being awful, even one that can be blown through as quickly as Rogue Warrior can. Everything about the game is poorly done, forgettable, or both. The game has an inexcusable laundry list of problems, only some of which I’ll touch on here: The graphics are way too shiny. The animations are sloppy. The snap-to-it cover system is broken, and worse, when you leave cover you’re automatically crouching, which is not conducive to getting away from enemies (I quickly abandoned this mechanic altogether, and started playing the game like an FPS from 1998). There’s no jump button. There’s about five or six weapons in the game. And the list goes on.
The first-person shooting itself is rote at best and utterly awful at worst. The hit detection when you’re firing from cover is broken, and if you’re manually aiming your weapon, it’s hard to see an enemy down your sights. Even when it’s working, there’s nothing that you haven’t seen or played at least a hundred times before. The Soviet bases and facilities have a general ‘80’s look, if such a generic and muddy game can even convey any sort of aesthetic style, make the whole game feel like a half-baked Goldeneye rehash (face it, the movie really hasn’t aged well)—there’s even a shootout in a library. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised if Rebellion just watched Goldeneye a hundred times to get the inspiration for Rogue Warrior’s level designs. It’s about as original.
What may be even more offensive than everything I just talked about is the enemy AI. Basically, there isn’t any. Enemies will shoot at you, but other than moving around or, surprisingly, toward you, they won’t do a damn thing. The only times you’ll die over the course of Marcinko’s very short adventure are when you’re outnumbered too much and can’t find any sort of cover. Other than that, it’s a completely ridiculous cakewalk. If you knew the exact placement of all the enemies in the game, you could feasible kill almost all of them solely using Marcinko’s slash-happy stealth attacks (although you can still take out enemies in the same way even after being seen and alerting everyone to your presence). It’s not like sprinting up to someone and slashing their throat will actually make any sort of noise that would send other guards on alert. Not in Rogue Warrior.
And good Christ, is this game bland. The graphics (and particularly textures) would’ve looked bad (and dated) circa 2001. The story is nearly non-existent and involves Marcinko disobeying orders and sabotaging Soviet installations. Explosions are surprisingly minimal—although there are fair share of missiles blown up. Similarly, sound, gunfire and grenades are all delivered with a small pop rather than a roar—hardly the “full-f—king Faulkner with lots of sound and fury,” Marcinko refers to (yes, that’s a real line). Just about every mission is made up of instructions to infiltrate a base/facility/installation, grab intel or blow the place up (or both) and escape. But the worst part about Rogue Warrior is that it’s so unbelievably forgettable there’s no reason to even waste space in your brain for it. You’ll just forget it—and the full four hours it takes to complete—in less than a day. I feel bad for Marcinko—if the man really did stop the Cold War from escalating in 1986, he probably deserves a better game than this. Then again, when a man who could’ve possibly saved the world from a fate of mutually assured destruction is being honored with a video game, that may in fact be a dubious statement in and of itself.