Rogue Ops Impressions

We take a look at the newest build of Bits Studios' stealth action game on the Xbox.

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We got to take a brief look at the latest version of Rogue Ops, Kemco and Bits Studios' new stealth action game, to see how it's been shaping up since E3. Rogue Ops puts you in the role of Nikki Connors, a former Green Beret who finished her service, retired, and settled into family life. After a terrorist attack took the lives of her family, Nikki wanted both an explanation and revenge, and so she's come out of retirement to covertly subvert Omega 19, the terrorist organization responsible for the attack.

Rogue Ops features stealth and tactical action that seems akin to that found in games like Splinter Cell and Syphon Filter. Like any good special agent, Nikki prefers to attack quietly from the shadows and move about unseen, and toward that end she'll use a great number of moves, techniques, and gadgets to thwart her enemies without attracting too much attention. We got to take a look at several demo levels--including an outside courtyard area and two different sections of a history museum--that showed off several of the things that Nikki can do.

In addition to the requisite sneaking and shooting abilities that you'd expect in any stealth game, Rogue Ops gives you a multitude of options for interacting with other characters and the environment. The game presents cues for these actions in the form of icons that appear when you look at someone or something you can interact with. For example, if you sneak up behind an enemy without being noticed, you might see an icon indicating that you can pick that enemy's pocket. If the icon is orange, you'll have to approach until the icon turns green before you can actually perform the action. Similarly, you'll see icons placed around the game's levels indicating that you can climb, grapple, shoot, or otherwise interact with the environment. These icons don't show up unless you zero in on them, so you'll have to search your surroundings thoroughly to find out what kind of movement and attack options you have.

One interesting twist Rogue Ops puts on the standard stealth formula is in the way it handles silent kills. Most stealth games simply require you to move behind an enemy and press a button to score a kill, but in Rogue Ops you'll first see a meter appear above the enemy that slowly begins to fill. Once you start the kill, you'll have to input a succession of directions on the D pad rapidly before a timer runs out to successfully take out the enemy. The number of moves you'll have to hit depends on how full the meter is--the longer you wait and ready yourself, the fewer directions you'll have to land in a short period of time.

Nikki won't just rely on her wits and her fists to survive--she'll also have access to a number of devices and items that will help her out. For instance, she has a set of "special vision" goggles that function as a sort of all-in-one viewfinder. This device can perform the functions of night vision and thermal vision, as well as alert you to nearby hidden traps and obstacles. Nikki can also dispatch a tiny flying camera that looks like an insect. This camera can then be controlled so you can buzz around and look at the area and enemies ahead of you without attracting any attention to yourself. An adrenaline boost pack will also be available, and this will let Nikki move faster than normal for a brief period. This has the effect of slowing down game time so you can perform combat and other actions in slow motion.

Graphically, Rogue Ops looks solid on the Xbox, with detailed environments and a solid lighting model. From what we've seen so far, Rogue Ops is going to bring some interesting new twists to the stealth action formula. The game is scheduled for release around the end of October, and we'll bring you more coverage soon.

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