by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
Having got used to sports game titles featuring real life athletes, I was still surprised when I realised that Rogue Warrior is based on a real-life Navy SEAL, Richard Marcinko. Apparently, this SEAL-turned-author is famous enough in some circles to warrant a game named after one of his nicknames. At least Bathesda Softworks thinks so, as they have teamed up with the ex-SEAL to produce Rogue Warrior.
Some of you may remember a game called Rogue Warrior: Black Razor that was in development in 2007. This is actually the same project, but with different people working on it and with a different focus. Instead of the originally planned cooperative gameplay and multiplayer options, the game now focusses on the character of Richard Marcinko and nice kill moves. The style of the game is also said to reflect the harsh descriptions that can be found in this Ex-SEAL's novels.
Excuse for some violence
All FPSs need it: an excuse to go and kill as many enemies as possible with as many explosions as possible. In Rogue Warrior's case, this excuse involves a suspected North Korean ballistic missile program in the late Cold War era, 1986, that the Rogue Warrior is sent to investigate. He soon uncovers a much darker plot that might turn the power balance between the super-powers into USSR's favour. It is left to Marcinko to go deep behind the enemy lines to thwart the dark plan.
Blood and Brutality
When the publishers rave about how Rogue Warrior is based on the explosive character of Mr. Marcinko, they seem to be mainly talking about the 25 unique and brutal ways in which you can kill your enemies. Apparently, no trick is too dirty for this author and he is ready to do whatever it takes to get his job done (must come handy when battling writer's block). But I digress. In-game, Mr. Marcinko's kill moves involve, for example, taking benefit of the environment and his stealth skills to take out the opposition. These close-up and personal killing moves each have a nasty name, such as: Kidney Bean, Adjustment, Brain Freeze, Geronimo, Field Dress, Chainsaw and Reassignment. If you feel like it, you can preview some of this 'exciting' action on the game's official site – but many more nasty moves will only be revealed in the final game! Gosh!
However sarcastic some of my opinions may sound, Rogue Warrior may still redeem itself in my eyes if the action proves realistic enough. The developers aim to create an open sandbox type of playing field, where the player can choose to approach different problems in different ways. This basically means that you can either go in with your guns blazing, or try to sneak your way in. You can also find that the gaming field offers you additional possibilities, such as shooting out a fuse box to turn off all the lights in an area so that you can use your night-vision goggles to goggle at your enemies while they try to guestimate your position in the darkness. And if you are clever enough, you may even trick them into shooting at each other.
Other features to look forward to include the cover system: you can duck behind a cover and blind fire at your enemy from behind in and destroy your enemy's cover to force them out in the open again. Naturally, your enemies can do the same to you, so this might make the game a little more realistic shooter than most of the competition out there. It all depends on how well it is carried out, though. What worries me is the tidbit that you can sneak in and kill someone and if other guards hear anything, they will search around - and if they find nothing, they will relax and go back to their duties. This is the way most FPSs work, of course, but I'd really like to see an AI that would actually get worried and alarmed when one of their team members no longer responds to calls or walks his scheduled guard route.
A multiplayer mode – no FPS is complete without one - will allow you to try out the brutal kill moves on your friends. It remains to be seen how this will turn out, given the insane (i.e. unrealistic) way online shooters normally allow the gamers to move and act in them. Somehow, I doubt anyone can actually sneak up to someone else in an online game, unless the other player is away from his computer, hunting for some more refreshments in the kitchen.
Being the kind of man that the real-life Marcinko apparently is, his in-game counterpart will either entertain or merely put off the gamer with one-liners all though the game. Apparently, he likes to brace his self-confidence by lots of swear words and comments about the stupidity of his enemies. Quite fittingly, these expressions will be voice-acted by another gruff man, Mickey Rourke, while Neal McDonough will act the part (or voice) of Marcinko's commanding officer. His part will be to try to rein in Marcinko's enthusiastic killing sprees. Sounds like something from a bad 1980's action movie, but we can naturally hope for something better.
Overall, the game sounds like it might be an interesting retro-themed (1980's you know!) shooter with modern physics and mechanics, as long as it doesn't overplay in the brutality department. Unfortunately, most of the preview material focusses on the brutality aspect, so the hope for anything else is slim. But, we will hold our final judgement until the release of the finalised game.