Dispense 4K Screenshots: Remembering Rogue Trooper

2006’s Rogue Trooper, an adaptation of the 2000AD comic, isn’t the first game off anyone’s lips, unless they’re specifically talking about 2000AD games which were pretty good but no-one remembers them. But I remember Rogue Trooper. I was all about 2000AD at a certain point in my life, enough so that an attachment to the holy trinity – Dredd, Johnny Alpha, Rogue Trooper – will stay with me for life. But while Dredd vs. Death seemed like a hollow disservice to the character and his world, Rogue Trooper was a very straightforward game which just nailed it, and took me right back to why I used to love the surly blue guy. It is not a classic. But it is an extremely well-judged action game that is extremely true to its source material. I like it a lot. No-one’s ever going to celebrate it.

So I will.

Primarily, I thought I’d make a 4K gallery of it. (Click the screenshots for full-size versions, or there’s a slideshow widget thingy at the end of the words). I had to hack hex files and use virtual resolutions in my graphics card drivers to do this, so it was a bit of a fiddle. It’s so pointless. It’s so worth it. It makes a game that is not beautiful accidentally sort-of-beautiful, or at least striking. I suspect no-one who worked on this game ever expected it to look quite like this, that this game was never designed to look like this.

I will admit that Rogue Trooper is not really beautiful, but something impressive emerges when a 9 year old game is dragged up to a resolution of 3200×1800. Rogue Trooper has a limited colour palette – mostly brown, with a incongruously but appealingly blue protagonist – and this is appropriate to the comic it’s based on. Blue against brown: it’s not what we traditionally ask for from our game art, but given crisp edges and detailed shapes even at a distance, it becomes something a little special. Only a little, but that’s enough. I should also mention the wonderful skyboxes – fractal explosions, suggesting a universe ripping itself to pieces even as this little mudball sinks into itself.

The original Rogue Trooper was set on Nu-Earth, a blasted, blighted planet reduced to near-inhabitability by warfare, on which an endless, brutal battle between the Norts and the Southers. Theoretically the latter are the heroes, though war naturally means blurred lines. Rogue is a Genetic Infantryman fighting for the Southers, a clone born in a vat and designed from the DNA up to be resistant to the many environmental horrors of Nu-Earth. He’s basically Clint Eastwood playing topless Superman. Some of his fallen comrades have their personalities stored on a memory chip, and are then implanted into his gun, backpack and helmet. They’re on a quest to find a traitor amongst Souther high command, who sold the GIs out and cost Gunnar, Bagman and Helm (yes, really) their lives.

That’s it. That’s the Rogue Trooper story. There have been attempts since to evolve it, but really this is a comic that teenagers read for the high concept and violence, rather than because of the individual stories particularly stood out. In other words, Rogue Trooper the game doesn’t have too much it has to include, or too much it has to risk. Instead, it tells a summarised, neater version of the core origin/revenge-quest tale.

‘Neat’ is a particularly apposite term for the game as a whole – it’s self-contained, it knows its own limits and it makes almost everything fit and everything feel good. (The major exception is its sadly lowest-common-denominator depiction of its few female characters, who suffer from the worst of ’90s comic excess). Played today, it feels a little stiffer and, well, more PlayStation 2, than it did at the time, but it remains a really solid yet fluid action game.

Guns operate as selectable modules from one main weapon (which even boasts a preposterously huge silencer if you want to play it stealth-style), ammo and upgrades are built from scrap collected in the field, the choice between basic sneaking and all-out carnage is always there, the environment does not distract with pointless frippery.

It’s an extremely efficient game, and this means the stark presentation suits it. It’s too damned easy, which kills the replay value, but then again that’s appropriate to the source material too – Rogue is a Terminator, not Tobias Funke on a bad day.

All this makes a game which looks so much more like a comic – or, at least, a dark British comic from the tail-end of the 20th century – than most games which far more consciously try to ape comics. Compare it even to the earlier, more-hyped Dread vs. Death from the same stable, and the latter seems like a dayglo farce.

In terms of games, Rogue Trooper puts me in mind of Star Wars: Republic Commando. Similarly buttoned-down and efficient, avoiding big flights of fancy, benefiting from an era of development which hadn’t yet embraced cutscene or quick time event excess. Their focus was to get on with it, to make moment-to-moment combat feel good rather than to feel the player had to be force-fed huge portions of narrative and set-piece. Both games, I suppose, are about soldiers rather than would-be heroes. They’re the best they are at what they do. And what they do is the job.

Rogue Trooper is not one for the ages, but it is a tight, solid action game of the sort that it feels is commonplace, but somehow is not. The next time you’re in the mood for some shooting, maybe some sneaking, something that scratches that contained adrenaline itch, please seek this out instead of whatever exhaustingly glossy and over-marketed shooter you think you should catch up on.

Here’s a slideshow, though sadly I cannot get the fullscreen button to work. You can click through to Flickr and do it there, plus see the original 4K versions, if you like.

Alternatively here’s the remainder of the shots to click through to full size versions of directly, though if you don’t have a 4K screen these will end up bigger than your screen.

















From this site

58 Comments

  1. ElElegante says:

    Huh. This is the second time today I’ve had this game recommended as an unappreciated gem, and I swear I’ve never even heard of it before. Weird. Guess I’ll have to check it out.

    • FRIENDLYUNIT says:

      Yes. Buy this on steam right now. Go!

    • bill says:

      It’s pretty good. I enjoyed it a lot back when I played it.

      It released on xbox (and pc) right at the end of the console cycle so it wasn’t very cutting edge graphically and kinda got ignored (as many end-pf-console-lifecycle games do).
      I wouldn’t call it a classic, but it was definitely unfairly ignored.

      Unfortunately, Rebellion seem to have abandoned 2000AD after this and their Dredd game didn’t sell so hot.

    • Bassem says:

      Do it. Tight gameplay, steady progression (albeit controlled), wide open missions (not open world but large areas) with plenty of ways to approach them, and the plot and character names are endearingly cheesy. And that soundtrack.

  2. SMGreer says:

    Yeah, enjoyed this way back when. Knew what it was and did what it did very well.

  3. LionsPhil says:

    Protip: middle-click the screenshots to skip RPS’s stupid JavaScript lightbox thing by opening them in a new tab instead, and your browser will probably scale them to fit the window (or screen, with F11) all by itself.

    • LTK says:

      I keep trying to do that but the screenshot are popping up in the same window anyway. Middle-clicking screenshots has never worked for me here, in Chrome at least.

  4. Premium User Badge

    Phasma Felis says:

    I was not a British schoolboy in the ’90s, so I missed out on Rogue Trooper in its original context, and now every time I try to read about it my brain reminds me that someone thought it would be witty if the people implanted in Rogue’s helmet, gun, and bag happened to be named Helm, Gunnar, and Bagman respectively, and I just…I suddenly want to not know anything else about it, ever. On principle. Out of self-defense.

    I’m probably missing out, and that’s a shame, but my mental defense mechanisms are too strong to ignore in this case.

    • jezcentral says:

      And the main villain is….Traitor General. I kid you not. How he got as far as he did in the army is being me. Especially that last promotion. You would have thought someone would have been a bit uneasy at the ceremony.

      To be honest, if this really is preventing you passing the game, that’s your loss.

      EDIT: The saving grace is the wonderfully named female GI, Venus Bluegenes.

    • bill says:

      The thing to understand about 2000AD was that it was a lot less serious than, for example, Marvel comics.
      It included some great characters and ideas, some political commentary, etc.. but it was also a lot of joking around.

      I only read a few copies of it when I was a kid, so my memory of it is rather rose-tinted as being some amazing edgy sci-fi epic. Which it could be, but it was also often a 2 page comic about Judge Dredd’s robot manservant (with a lisp) doing his laundry. His underwear, of course, having JUDGE DREDD written on the butt in big letters.

      • cthulhie says:

        Right! So, while I quite liked the new Dredd movie, it really doesn’t capture the regular goofiness of the universe. There was a lot of cheeky stuff in the comics, but the broader representations of the 2000AD make it seem like very one-note grimdark cyberpunk.

    • Alberto says:

      Add to that the horrible-but-hell-they-tried translation to Spanish of the silly warslang the characters use and it adds +5 to any cheesyness rolls.

      And I love it every silly page.

    • Bassem says:

      I haven’t read the comics, and I too might let something like this stop me from reading them, but the game’s… gameplay is too excellent to let something like this get in the way.

      Plus it doesn’t take itself too seriously. It does portray itself as sincere, but it’s more like “Yes, these are really the names of the character. Let’s get on with it.”

  5. elilupe says:

    Seeing this today made me so happy. As a kid I randomly bought this game for my PS2 cuz it was cheap, without any knowledge whatsoever of the comic background of the universe, but I still loved it! Like was said in the article, it’s just…good, all around. Reading this brought back some good memories *sniff*

  6. damoqles says:

    God damn, how I loved this game.

    • Bassem says:

      Same here. Definitely way up there on my alltime list. It’s so well made, it doesn’t try to do anything extra and botch it up, all the elements work well and it offers so many ways to approach the missions. And those backpack scatter mines were so much fun to use.

  7. thedosbox says:

    Hmm, this has been on my steam wishlist for awhile, but I was under the impression it doesn’t have proper widescreen support, so didn’t bite.

    However, the pcgaming wiki entry indicates the steam version has native widescreen support (without negatively affecting the HUD). Is that correct?

    • Bassem says:

      If it’s not officially supported, then I’m sure you can find a fan-made patch somewhere. It’s worth playing.

  8. buzzmong says:

    This was an okay game, but I think I preferred the 1986-7 game on the C64.

  9. dethtoll says:

    I used to get into regular arguments with someone because I insisted this was a better Gears of War than the actual Gears of War.

    It’s been years since I played, but I still stand by that assessment.

    • Henke says:

      I _knew_ I’d find you in this comments section, deth! U CAN ESCAPE TTLG BUT U CANT ESCAPE UR FATE! GOW IS BETTER HAHAHA! >:D

    • Shadowcat says:

      I’m with dethtoll on this one. I played both of these games (for the first time) back to back (by random chance), only a year ago, and I was immediately struck by (a) the similarities between the games, and (b) how Rogue Trooper was so much more fun than Gears of War (which I had frankly found a bit dull and tedious). After finishing Gears, I uninstalled it right away, as I had no desire to play any more of it. After finishing Rogue Trooper, I started a new game almost immediately, and played it all the way through a second time.

      • dethtoll says:

        To this day I’m not sure Aja has ever played RT, or he wouldn’t have argued so fervently with me about this.

  10. Kefren says:

    Also the board game, which I still play from time to time.
    link to cf.geekdo-images.com
    It has the interesting element that you can play it fully co-operatively (trading was possible), or just go all out to kill the other rogue troopers, or anything in between.

    • Matchstick says:

      Considering that Mongoose Publishing have done TT RPGs (using the Traveller rule system) for both Judge Dredd and Strontium Dog it’s a bit of a pity they haven’t finished the triumverate with a Rogue Trooper one

  11. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Loved this game so much I’ve got it on the Xbox and PC. Rogue was my favourite 2000AD strip when I was a kid. I’ve seen it go for less than a quid during steam sales. I’ve replayed it a few times and its always very satisfying. The voicework and music is excellent too. Somehow everyone sounds exactly how I imagined they did when reading the comic.

  12. The Sombrero Kid says:

    I played this despite it’s reviews because I was a big 2000AD fan when I was a kid & Rouge Trooper was my favourite & it turned out all the reviews were laughably wrong it was great!
    In my head this came out after Gears of War but the fact it didn’t makes it even more impressive and mystifying. I’m not really a fan of the Blue/Brown though, the comics could get away with it for me because they were high contrast but everything just bled together in the game and as a programmer looking at it it just looks so fixed function!

    Great game.

  13. Chirez says:

    You do not habit a place, you inhabit it.
    A habitat you can inhabit is inhabitable.
    If you cannot inhabit your habitat, it is uninhabitable, because it cannot be inhabited.

  14. frenz0rz says:

    Blimey, I know those screenshots are 4K but that game seems to hold up remarkably well visually (aside from the occasional crummy terrain texture).

  15. Chaz says:

    Stak!

  16. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    I love this game, and it’s a wonderful adaptation of the original strip. I never tired of ‘sploding Norts by shooting their oxygen tanks, and the minelayer was a joy to use.

    Looking back, it’s hard to say what my favourite 2000AD strip was, but Rogue’s near the top.
    I just remember thinking that American comics felt so simplistic in comparison. 2000AD wasn’t afraid to treat its readers like adults, and some of the social commentary, particularly in stuff like Dredd, Zenith or Bad Company was brilliant. It’s telling that 2000AD alumni then went on to revolutionise American comics.

    And then there were Slaine, Halo Jones and the ABC Warriors.
    Or Nemesis and Torquemada: “Be pure. Be Vigilant. BEHAVE.”
    Or Ace Trucking Co.
    Or Sam Slade, Robohunter.

    I don’t think I can ever overstate how much 2000AD affected my world view. It’s a part of me, and I keep it in a mysterious box in my chest compartment.

    • Slouch says:

      If only there were a Marvel Unlimited-like feature for 2000AD! Oh how I would love to explore it from the beginning in a less claustrophobic manner than collecting books which clutter up my tiny flat…

      • bill says:

        They have digital versions in their online store and iphone / android apps. But no unlimited option.

        As I have mentioned loudly in many places, to no avail, they should really do a 2000AD humble comics bundle. It’d be a great way to get more people (particularly outside the UK) into the comics, plus maybe drum up some interest for the game and movie.

    • In Zod We Trust says:

      Hmm, I was having trouble remembering my favourite 2000AD story, was it Dredd (not the man himself, but the setting), Strontium Dogs, ABC Warriors. But then you mentioned Zenith and I remembered – my favourite was Zenith. Grant Morrisson on a weird Lovecraft/Superhero/Pop vibe that got stranger and stranger as it went. And Steve Yeowell’s art – just magnificent.

      But also all that other stuff – just great.

      Wait, I really liked the Chopper for Oz storyline too, that was maybe the best individual story. Beautifully drawn and tragic.

    • kinglog says:

      DR and Quinch! Was thinking about this randomly yesterday and found it on the BBC classic Sci Fi :)

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      Oh, and calling it now: Halo Jones did high gravity and time dilation better than Interstellar.

      • thekelvingreen says:

        I know it’s not trendy to say so but Halo Jones is my favourite Alan Moore comic. Of all the projects he’s abandoned because of losing interest or falling out with publishers, that’s the one I wish he’d return to finish.

  17. SominiTheCommenter says:

    I you like screenshots, there’s an entire thread worth of them in the forums. 10k posts and counting.
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

  18. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    Yessss!
    This is a very solid game. If you like shooters at all, well that’s what this is. Even has coop.

    And actually I was loving the graphics. They have a really clear aesthetic.

  19. Bob says:

    Thanks for the trip down memory lane Alec. I seem to remember finding the beginning, just after exiting the drop-ships, as one of the more difficult parts of that game. Once Rogue got a few “upgrades” the game/battles got easier. It was diverting enough although I think I replayed it only twice before giving it away.

  20. jezcentral says:

    If it wasn’t for a certain bald-assassin-with-a-barcode reaching his series’ zenith in the same year, this would have been my favourite game of 2006.

  21. bill says:

    Rebellion still own 2000AD right? I’m sure I saw their logo on the movie. Do you think anyone from Rebellion might read these comments? Because if so:

    WHAT are you doing? Where are my 2000AD games? I know the Judge Dredd game didn’t sell great (due to being average and releasing at a bad time for FPS) and the Rogue Trooper game didn’t sell great (due to releasing at the end of a console cycle) but don’t give up!

    Easy steps to success:
    1 – Do a humble 2000AD bundle and include some classic comics, the 2 games and maybe even the movie ih higher tiers. This will get lots of new people into the 2000AD universe. And maybe even increase the chances for a movie sequel (which would be great).
    2 – Make an Unlimited version of your digital comics app. Plus give away free copies of old comics regularly.
    3 – License out some of the lesser 2000AD characters to some small indie developers.
    4 – Make a shiny open city Judge Dredd FPS. Make a Judge Dredd RPG. Make another Rogue Trooper game.
    5 – Success!

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      3 – License out some of the lesser 2000AD characters to some small indie developers.

      They should definately get Telltale to do some games based on Low Life or The Simping Detective.

  22. Neurotic says:

    Nice one Alec. I seem to recall KG really liking it in his PCG review. However, I’ve never understood the lukewarm feelings for Dredd vs Death. It’s as least as good as the old Melbourne House C64 title.

  23. BooleanBob says:

    This seems as good a reason as any to adverbially link to a bit on this batch of bits written by his own self J Nash (yes really him): link to orsomething.co.uk

  24. Thankmar says:

    I never heard of Rogue Trooper (not a comic guy) till I saw the Wii-Version on the rummage table at my supermarket for suspiciously little money. I went by week after week, then decided to look it up, and it seemed a reasonable amount of fun for the price. I just loved it. Since I am totally unaware of the comics, I perceived it as cheerful light satire, and I liked it that way very much, especially the crests being just arrows up and down. Even the names make sense in this context, since its all being reduced to be iconic without any substance at all, so its just an excuse to play out WWII-style-G.I. shootings mixed with SciFi-weapons and blue skin. What a nice game for a random found.

  25. Necrourgist says:

    Oi! Me loves Rogue Trooper too! But seriously, i still own it and i still play it and it is still awesome! Stay classy!

  26. Shaun Green says:

    Rogue Trooper was good fun. I should definitely revisit it, though I only have a promo PS2 copy at the moment. :/

    Star Wars: Republic Commando was ruddy marvellous. I really liked that game. “Get some bacta,” we joked, incessantly, forever.

  27. cthulhie says:

    There’s enough faint praise in this writeup and thread to damn a Mother Theresa. Reading through, I can tell that a lot of people hesitantly feel something about this game. It all makes me want go to GOG.com and immediately add it somewhere midway down my wishlist.

  28. MellowKrogoth says:

    Aw, c’mon. Complaining about bimbos in an action game marketed to male teenagers is like complaining that male characters in female-oriented romance litterature are unrealistic. Both are silly, both are here to stay, neither of them is gonna prevent (most) people from growing up and developing proper respect for the opposite sex. Just like brutally headshotting or decapitating hundreds of people in-game hasn’t turned us all into murderous monsters.

    Now where did I leave that war axe? …

  29. MellowKrogoth says:

    Good article by the way. A well-paced, somewhat mindless shooter is exactly what the doctor ordered when I come back from work tired and don’t want to solve puzzles, go through dialogues/cutscenes or struggle with difficulty spikes.

  30. adamcrei says:

    I’m a big fan of this game, and think it’s super under-rated.

    At the time, _I_ Celebrated it. ;-)

    link to playing4realz.blogspot.com

    link to playing4realz.blogspot.com

  31. Bassem says:

    Hell yes, Rogue Trooper! As a non-Brit I never knew anything about the comics, but I loved this game to bits and still listen to the great soundtrack to this day. I’m sure I’ll be replaying it soon.

    It had excellent gameplay, and the tone of the plot was just the right blend of sincere and tongue-in-cheek.

  32. Matchstick says:

    Just a quick note if anyone is still following this thread that Rogue Trooper is currently £1.99 in this weekend’s GoG Promo.
    link to gog.com