Released in Europe earlier this week and currently scheduled to ship in North America next month, Rogue Trooper is a third-person action game in which you'll assume the titular role of the popular 2000AD comic book character. We recently caught up with the game's senior producer, Mike Burnham, and asked him about some of the features that Rebellion is hoping will appeal to fans of the Rogue Trooper comics and newcomers alike.
GameSpot: For the benefit of anyone not familiar with the Rogue Trooper character, can you give us some info on his backstory?
Mike Burnham: Sure, Rogue is one of a battalion of genetic infantry (GI) troops to be dropped in a surprise attack that would turn the tide of a long, drawn-out war. That war has turned Nu Earth into a toxic hell where humans are encumbered with thick ABC/HAZMAT suits and heavy external air supplies to prevent contact with the polluted and deadly atmosphere. The GIs are genetically engineered for those conditions, making them faster and stronger than humans; and best of all, if the body is killed, the GI's training and personality is downloaded on to a biochip, ready for insertion into another clone body.
GS: For any hardened 2000AD fans reading this, how will the game's storyline tie in with that of the comic?
MB: With Rogue Trooper, we have had the pleasure of working with 2000AD's Gordon Rennie. As the Rogue writer for the past five years, along with writing for numerous other fan favorites including Judge Dredd, Gordon knew what was needed in any situation--and the overarching situation we presented him was an interesting one, to retell the birth of the Rogue Trooper legend. So for anyone picking up the game for the first time, this allowed us to involve them right from the start of the story while also showing those that already knew Rogue some of the details of how the legend was born.
GS: Rogue Trooper is obviously an extremely powerful character, but will players be able to enhance his abilities in any way as they progress through the game?
MB: Always a difficult one, this... Just how does a game take a planet's best warrior and then make them even better during a game without unbalancing it? Well, we decided it was essential to enhance the players' powers, and that drove us in turn to make the most of Rogue's fallen comrades.
GS: How will those skills of Rogue Trooper's fallen comrades Helm, Gunnar, and Bagman be used in the game?
MB: For those of you that don't know--as Rogue's buddies die around him, their biochips are inserted into Rogue's equipment to keep them "alive" in the short term. The buddies get to augment the equipment they are added to and thus open up new options for the player. Helm, for example, can project a fully playable hologram of Rogue that can be used to distract the enemy. Gunnar's skills are many--from sniping and underslung weapons attachments to aiming assistance--but the one that stands out most is the ability to have Gunnar act as an intelligent sentry gun, which is great for ambushes or very noisy distractions.
For me, Bagman is the most interesting buddy. He offers players both an offensive weapon in being able to forwardly project Micro-Mine fields and a portable armory that the player uses in various encounters to construct ammunition and hardware that suits their play style.
GS: Some of the screenshots and movies that you've released show Rogue Trooper employing stealth rather than force; how big a part will stealth play in the game?
MB: Gameplay in Rogue is very freeform, and this allows players to carefully plan an attack, distract the enemy, and stealth into a great position to take on the enemy from unexpected areas. Stealth kills allow you to silently work your way through a number of the enemies before you let rip with the big guns and has the benefit of giving you extra rewards for your actions. However, if you don't like stealth, the game allows you to also take the more obvious route and go in the front door shooting every time.
GS: What kind of weapons will make up Rogue Trooper's no-doubt considerable arsenal?
MB: Micro-Mines, multiple grenade types, beam weapons, pistols, shotguns, mortar launchers, surface-to-air missiles, heavy mounted machine guns, flak cannons, plasma cannons, and more. Oh yes, Rogue has the firepower to compete with the big guns. GS: How many different multiplayer modes can we look forward to? Is it true that four players will be able to control the four members of Rogue's squad in special missions that take place before they were betrayed?
MB: The multiplayer aspect of the game is indeed cooperative, and gives players the opportunity to choose which GI they play. Each GI has their own special ability: Helm, his Holodecoy, Gunnar, infinite basic ammunition, and Bagman has infinite health packs. In addition, each person can carry one secondary weapon, so someone can offer artillery support with the Sammy launcher, while someone else may choose to pack a shotgun or beam rifle.
There are two separate types of play. Progressive sees players working side by side to make their way through each specially designed mission, and Stronghold sees them protecting an injured GI from being killed for a configurable time limit.
GS: Will there be any major differences between the PlayStation 2, Xbox, and PC versions of Rogue Trooper?
MB: The flexibility of our Asura engine technology allows us to both achieve the highest standards of common features across the board while also tailoring the gaming experience for each platform's strengths. For example, we spent a lot of development time making the PS2 version look as sweet as possible; in the PC version we increased texture resolutions throughout, while on the Xbox we fully support the Xbox Live service in our frantic online multiplayer modes. So you can be sure, no matter which version of the game the player chooses, they'll be enjoying Rogue Trooper as we intended.
GS: Finally, what advice would you offer to someone who is about to play Rogue Trooper for the first time?
MB: As you come across your buddies, pay attention to what they can do to help you, and then enjoy those abilities as you progress and gain them for yourself. Use them to dominate the enemy and project your will out on the battlefield. Also watch for the extras that get unlocked as the game progresses, and you'll gain access to information on the characters, vehicles, and locations, and also get peeks at concept art and the comic book origins of the Rogue Trooper universe.
Enjoy, and keep it "solid blue."
GS: Thanks for your time.