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Rogue Trooper

The world needs another third-person shooter game like David Lowery needs a hole in his head, but they keep coming every week, presumably sating the legions of action junkies who are looking for the next weapons upgrade. How to stand out in an overcrowded marketplace? Instead of putting in the creative investment needed to develop a truly innovative product (heaven forbid), why not just repackage some familiar science-fiction hullabaloo and slash the price a little? Welcome to Rogue Trooper, a solid time-waster that provides all the expected TPS elements—an "army of one" storyline, a post-apocalyptic hellscape environment, and an arsenal of high-tech explodables—but cuts $20 off the standard price. Though relatively thin and easy to slash through, the game doesn't have any significant flaws, either, beyond the been-there-done-that factor.

A little like Battlestar Galactica if the Cylons were the heroes, Rogue Trooper takes place on Nu Earth, a formerly inhabited planet that was nuked into oblivion during a war between the Norts and the Southers. In retaliation for grave defeats, the Southers created Genetic Infantrymen, artificial beefcake super-troopers who can withstand Nu Earth's hostile conditions. You play one in a battalion of G.I.s deliberately sent into a Nort ambush that kills off all your barrel-chested comrades and leaves you to fight your way through the enemy in order to avenge this betrayal. In a clever touch, you use the "bio-chips" of three fallen G.I.s to help you perform various functions—one specializes in weapons, another in electronics, and a third processes scrap into a kind of currency. It's Herman's Head with carnage, basically.

Beyond the game: The game derives from a comic book scripted by Gerry Finley-Day and drawn by Dave Gibbons, who's best known for collaborating with Alan Moore on Watchmen. The storyline seems faithful enough to the source, but it may be a case of adapting the letter and missing the spirit, since the cutscenes miss any opportunity for meaningful commentary.


Worth playing for: The electronics bio-chip guy can call up holograms to distract the blinkered enemy while you slip into a better position.

Frustration sets in when: Picking off enemies isn't terribly difficult, even from a distance, but hovering metallic balls (aptly named "decapitators") can spoil your progress by blowing up in your face.

Final judgment: Rogue Trooper doesn't approach the inventiveness of a great budget TPS like last year's Raze's Hell, but it's priced to move.

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