Rogue Trooper first came out in 2006 (and released for the Wii three years later), and Rebellion has decided that it’s ripe for a remaster. Having played just shy of half an hour of the said remaster, Rogue Trooper Redux, Rogue and his accessory buddies are a testament to how good writing can endure, even if mechanical expectations change.
Rogue Trooper Redux is a remaster, not a remake, so the game you knew before is pretty intact, but Rebellion is aware that players have different expectations for how shooters actually play now, so it’s not entirely the same. Richard May, a lead programmer for Rebellion and a gameplay programmer for the original release of Rogue Trooper (whisper it) over a decade ago, explained that in that time, people have gotten used to cover shooting.
‘We’ve changed the controls to give you a bit more familiarity,’ he said. This includes some button remapping, so everything is where you’d expect it to be, the addition of an over-the-shoulder aim mode, and making cover automatic. Some of these systems are a bit wobbly at present — I sometimes got stuck in cover, or found myself in cover and unable to aim — but it holds up surprisingly well for its age, like a hard cheese you can still eat if you scrape some of the older bits off.
Mostly, you’ll forgive it because it’s still funny. It doesn’t feel dated because its starting point is being an adaption of an often intentionally ridiculous comic, where the main character is a huge, muscled, genetically engineered super-soldier with bright blue skin, and whose helmet, backpack and gun all talk to him because they contain the personalities of his dead squadmates. May points out that at one point in the comics there’s a disco, and everyone has amazing 80s hair. Early on in the game Rogue, retrieving the chip that contains Gunner’s mind (guess what Gunner gets put into?) says ‘Even when we’re dead, we don’t escape war,’ in approximately the same voice and tone that you use when you’re trying to do an impression of the dramatic trailer voiceover guy. It is impossible to take the piss out of Rogue Trooper because it got there ages before you did.
I asked May why, then, they’ve decided to do a remaster, rather than a remake or even a sequel of sorts. He described it as a ‘toe in the water.’ If Rogue Trooper sticks with enough people in a new audience, he says, ‘Who knows where we’ll go with it next? I would love to be involved in anything that would come after that. I would certainly put my name down for it.’
So Rebellion is still keen, especially now it’s fully independent and can act as its own publisher for the games it makes. The trouble is that I suspect Rogue Trooper Redux isn’t going to reach a massive new audience. No matter how much of an over-the-top badass Rogue is, he’s more likely to appeal to players who enjoyed the game the first time around. Then again, at this point those people are all adults with disposable income. So you never know.
Rogue Trooper Redux is set to release for Switch, PS4 and Xbox One later this year.