Rogue Warrior Hands-On

PAX 2009: We finally get a chance to try out Bethesda and Rebellion's upcoming first-person shooter inspired by former Navy SEAL Richard "Dick" Marcinko.

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Bethesda first showed off its revamp of Rogue Warrior earlier this year at a UK press event and at the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The publisher revealed that the game had been overhauled from a tactical shooter to a more personality focused first-person shooter. At the time, we weren't able to get our hands on the game and were simply given guided demos of gameplay. Now that the game is getting closer to release, Bethesda is letting PAX attendees get their hands on a playable level. Rogue Warrior is slated to hit the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360 later this year.

What's New: The PAX Rogue Warrior demo for the Xbox 360 that we tried let us play through the game's last level set in a Russian base crawling with enemies. While we've seen that stealth is a key part of Rogue Warrior's gameplay, and it was needed for a few sections, the level had more of an action focus. We were able to make use of the game's cover system and blindfire mechanics, which were key to surviving the waves of enemies that attacked on the ground at our level as well as from higher vantage points in the base, such as catwalks or hidden areas. The cover system was useful but required caution since most of it could be shot out by enemy fire. Blindfire was useful for both guns and grenades--an onscreen reticle gives you a rough idea of where you'll be firing or chucking a grenade, which is helpful. It was also possible to lean out from cover to line a shot up better, although it left us vulnerable to enemy fire. In addition to weapons and grenades, we were able to use the old standby of exploding barrels or larger fuel, which were helpfully laid out around the base and did a fine job of clearing out enemies. We were also able to try out the stealth kills when a more personal touch was needed. The one-button-press moves can be initiated when you're within a certain range of an enemy, and they result in cinematic one-hit kills. The playable level also showed off the game's robust checkpoint system that ensures you're never kicked back too far if you're killed, which was handy.

What's Different: There wasn't too much different from the gameplay demos we saw earlier this year. The playable level seemed to be delivering on the overview we were given. The game's focus is about completing your objectives by taking out enemies quietly or explosively.

What's The Same: The stealth and action gameplay are in line with what we saw before. The visuals are still a little rough in spots, as is the camera at points, which results in some dips in performance that slow down the action. Mickey Rourke's voice-over is now fully integrated into the game.

What Impression The Game Made This Time: The last time we saw the game we were curious to see how it handled and how the various gameplay elements we saw played together. Now that we've had a chance to spend some time with Rogue Warrior, the game seems to be shaping up OK. We're still hoping for more polish on the visuals and camera to keep the action smooth, but the core game seems to be solid. The one-hit kills are bordering on overpowered, but they're fun, so it will be interesting to see how they wind up being balanced. The final piece to the puzzle for Rogue Warrior is its multiplayer and how that will play out.

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