Carving out a place among the glut of third-person shooting games can be a tough task, as the well-intentioned but entirely average Rogue Trooper proves. A combination of straight-forward shooting, stale sci-fi nonsense, and some clever use of gadgets and gear, Rogue Trooper manages to provide a few hours of gaming goodness despite some mediocre ingredients.
As a genetically enhanced super-soldier/blue-skinned freak and sole survivor of an ambush attack, you gun your way through a handful of drab, futuristic environments on a predictably (but pleasantly) carnage-filled quest for revenge. The unremarkable graphics and sound do little to break the mold, but the ability to use the bio-chip brains of your dead buddies (currently residing in your gun, helmet and backpack) to power up your weapons and gear adds a nice touch of ingenuity.
Clever gadgets like holographic decoys, proximity mines and sticky grenades provide a few simple thrills, while the ability to salvage parts from fallen enemies to purchase weapon upgrades gives some welcome variety to the otherwise familiar action formula. The linear levels don’t offer much in the way of secrets or surprises, but the mix of stealthy sniping and frantic firefights provide a blend of distinct combat styles. Your badass arsenal ranges devastating shotguns to sniper rifles, and from a sentry turret gun (actually controlled by the trash-talking brain-chip of your buddy Gunnar) to surface-to-air missiles, thereby ensuring you always have the right tool for any tough scenario.
Granted, this awesome assortment of assault ordnance can go largely unused, as the clunky controls make certain actions like switching weapons or getting in and out of cover a hassle. Rather than charging into a fray with guns blazing, you may find yourself foregoing the use of cool scenario-specific weapons. Instead, we sometimes found ourselves sniping enemies from afar, thereby eliminating the headache of trying to clumsily fire from cover while reloading. On the plus side, because your backpack (inhabited by your friend Bagman's chip) actually manufactures your ammo and upgrades from salvaged scrap, you'll rarely run low in critical moments.
Rogue Trooper may not be cutting edge, but as a simple, straightforward shooter, it’s more than capable of delivering a quick action fix. Fans of the UK comic series will find plenty to appreciate here, and casual gamers should notice just enough clever attack options and amusing enemy deaths to keep them happily interested over the game's short running-time. The multiplayer almost isn't worth even mentioning (though Xbox players can use the archaic system link), but overall, you could do a lot worse for $30.