About a week ago, I bought a very bad game. That game was Metroid Other M, which I bought so I could play again and write a review. A few days later, after beating it, I walked a few miles down to the local Gamestop (I walk a lot, so it's no big deal), got my $3.99 back, and with that and a few quarters sticking to the gum on my shoes (metaphorically speaking) I bought a third person shooter called Rogue Trooper:Quartz Zone Massacre, a much better and only slightly less cheap game.

From what I've read, Rogue Trooper is set in the universe of a European comic of the same name, which like this game I only heard of a week ago. It's a self contained story though, so reading the comics is unnecessary to understand it.

The game is set on the war town Nu Earth, with a war raging between the incredibly creatively named Souters, who live in the South, and Norts, who live in the North. The Souters have developed a battalion of elite soldiers called Genetic Infantrymen (GIs) and the first mission is an airdrop into Nort occupied territory, but everything goes wrong. Somehow, they knew they were coming and the GIs were massacred with only one survivor, who sets out to get revenge on the traitor who caused this.

Not all of his friends are truly dead however, he removed the bio chips implanted in his dead friends heads and inserts each into a slot in his gear. Another show of the developers amazing naming talents, Gunnar goes onto your gun, Bagman on your bag, and Helm on your helmet. As well as providing other characters, they give you abilities that make you into a one man squad.

Gunnar can be deployed as a Sentry Gun to provide cover fire, gain attention, etc. When being used as a gun, you can use a lock on feature similar to Metroid Prime 3, allowing for easier aiming. When you deploy the Sentry Gun, you lose that aim assist and have to use the pistol. Bagman uses salvage, something that can be found in dead bodies and piles of scrap, to manufacture new upgrades, ammunition and medical supplies. Helm can attract enemies to your position, leading them into an ambush, or deploy a controllable hologram to lure out or distract enemies.

The enemies in Rogue Trooper consist of standard infantry, rarely encountered riot shield soldiers, automated pillboxes that are air dropped onto the battlefield by enemy aircraft, two different types of enemy aircraft, floating mines that move in your direction and detonate, mechs, and mechs on steroids.  The infantry have two weak points, the head, and a large gas tank on their backs. Part of what made the Genetic Infantryman such great soldiers was that they could breathe the toxic air of Nu Earth, meaning they didn't have to take oxygen tanks and hazmat suits. If you rupture the tanks, the enemies will comically run around before exploding. Usually enemies will stick to cover and throw grenades to flush you out of cover, but occasionally they'll just stand in the open for a few seconds, doing nothing. They don't seem aggressive at all, if you run away it's rare for them to pursue you.

With your salvage, you can create and upgrade several weapons. You start off with your assault rifle/sniper rifle, pistol, and frag grenades, but over the course of the game you'll get a laser that fries enemies, a shotgun, a missile launcher, and my personal favorite, a mortar cannon that fires cluster ammunition.

You'll also get sticky grenades that are reminiscent of the plasma grenades in Halo, but with the added ability to move towards enemies. There are also incendiary grenades that burst into flames, and scrambler grenades that stun enemies. My favorite grenade isn't a grenade at all, it's a minefield. You can drop them one at a time or fire the field en mass with aimed throw mode, and firing a storm of mines right where your enemy is standing. The only problem with the guns, balance wise, is that the assault rifle is practically a water gun for all the damage it does. If you aren't getting headshots or hitting enemy oxygen tanks, you'll be emptying anywhere from four to eight bullets into them before they go down, and all the other guns deal the kind of damage you'd expect.

The controls offer enough customization options to make the controls good, with dead zone size, horizontal sensitivity, and vertical sensitivity customization options. It's no The Conduit or Red Steel 2, but the aiming works well. The motions are used for grenades and zooming in/out the sniper rifle scope. 

Flicking the nunchuk will throw grenades, but raising it will put you in aimed throw mode, which allows precise aiming. Usually everything works well, but sometimes it would register me lowering the nunchuk as a second throw and I'd throw a second grenade. You also can't use aimed throw mode while in cover, which would be when it's most useful. To zoom in/out the sniper rifle, you twist the Wii Remote. You don't need to hold it twisted, you just twist your wrist and then return to the normal way you'd hold it, but it messes up your aim momentarily and just seems unnecessary. 

The A button is used for too many things. It works as the roll button and the context sensitive button, which acts as melee attacks, using emplacements, picking up Gunnar, opening doors, etc. The cover system works well enough (I haven't played a lot of cover based shooters, so It could be terrible and I wouldn't know), I never have any trouble getting into or getting out of cover, but you have no way to control the direction blindfire is in, and if you're on a square piece of cover and want to go to the other side you have to get out of cover then get back in. When shooting a target at a lower height, the shots would sometimes hit my cover instead of the enemy.

There are a lot of open areas encouraging experimenting with your large arsenal of weapons and abilities, and playing stealthily is rewarded (but not necessary in the least). I've managed to figure out at least three strategies for any situation, and when I couldn't come up with more it was because I was being lazy. One thing I liked doing was throwing a sticky grenade, then using the Attract ability. An enemy would come near, then the grenade would move toward him and detonate after a few seconds. Or I'd distract them with the hologram, then place the Sentry Gun behind them. 

It looks like your average PS2 to Wii port, that is to say like a PS2 game. There are plenty of jagged edges in the environment, and the framerate occasionally drops.

That's the PC Version, obviously enough. It's on the PS2, Xbox, PC , and Wii.

There are two co-op modes, Capture the Fort and Progressive Play. The first has you defend a GI for a few minutes as Norts try to storm your fort, the second puts you in a normal level but with co-op. There are four characters with different advantages over each other, but each of their arsenals is inferior to what you have in the campaign. They each have all the grenades, the sniper, assault rifle, and pistol. On top of that, you can carry one additional weapon regardless of which character you choose. Both can be played solo, the way I had to play it, but like that it's essentially a worse version of the campaign in Progressive Play, and there's nothing particularly good or bad about the horde mode. There's nothing to unlock and the selection of maps is small, so you likely won't play very long. Of course, it's important to remember I played by myself, so it's possible that if you've got a friend or three it's better than I give it credit for. The PS2/Xbox versions have two player split screen (used to have online play, but I'm pretty sure they don't any more), the Wii version has 4 player split screen, and the PC version has online play (I doubt people are still playing it though).

Rogue Trooper lasts 8-10 hours, at  least when I played on Hard mode. I played the first few levels on Normal, but I always had more salvage than I could use and hardly used cover or stealth. I recommend starting on Hard, which would be better named Normal, and Normal named Easy. You unlock the Massacre difficulty after beating the game. Aside from the co-op, the only thing to do after beating the campaign is replaying it to try different strategies, which was enough incentive for me. I'm already half way through replaying it.


*This review actually was edited to address the co-op. Ironic, I know. I was in a hurry and the co-op IS pretty barebones.