Quite Possibly the Best Bad Game Ever.

User Rating: 4 | Rogue Warrior PC
Dick Marcinko is a real person, but you'd be forgiven for thinking he was a stand-in for Duke Nukem in this ridiculous little game by the way he behaves.

It's 1986, nearing the final years of the Cold War, and Mr. Marcinko is dropped behind enemy lines in North Korea with two other soldiers, but when his incompetent buddies are killed by the most horribly choreographed grenade pin pulling in gaming history, it's up to the legendary founder of Seal Team Six to get the mission done.

Starting at night near a North Korean slum, the player goes on a grand, brown and grey adventure through apartment blocks, refineries, train yards, and eventually into Russia as a conspiracy envelops to destroy the United States' ability to retaliate to nuclear devastation. All the while, Dick is killing commies both with an arsenal of wholly standard weapons and hilariously "witty" barbs, all the while disobeying orders whenever possible.

The game features the standard post- Halo two-weapon limit and regenerating health, but for some reason, pistols have unlimited ammo, and the player starts with a silenced pistol as well as an MP5 sub-machine gun. Already approaching overkill with an infinite ammo, silenced pistol, the enemies are somewhat lacking in the AI department. The stealth system in place makes it neigh-impossible to be caught in most situations. Not to say the entire game can be played entirely by stealth. At various points in the game, enemies will suddenly develop telepathic abilities and be able to pinpoint the player's exact position, alerting everyone within a football field's length from you in every direction, and the enemies never leave alert mode - you have to kill everyone before you can resume sneaking about. The default pistol makes dispatching enemies from medium range, but anything more than around 20 yards is going to give people trouble with any weapon due to the over-sized weapon sights, making it look like Dick is trying to shove the weapon in his eye. Anything other than a sniper rifle is going to require some getting used to when dealing with targets even slightly long range. Making things worse is that the grenades have all the splash damage range of a bunny fart, making them nearly useless in combat. The game has an assassination system by which players can get up close to an enemy and press the action button to execute a gory kill move, but being able to do this while enemies are alert, not to mention the invincibility gained during the animation, makes these moves grossly powered, which the game only mitigates by making enemies quite the crack shots. Despite this, even the hardest difficulty level should pose no challenge to gamers with at least some experience in modern first-person shooters.

The weapons aren't the only things that are bland and poorly thought out. As mentioned earlier, this is one of the least colorful games ever. Save for a mansion in one of the Russia levels, everything is dingy looking, using a depressingly small color palette that makes early FPS' like Quake and Doom look like Super Mario Bros. 3 in comparison. The special effects in this game look like something out of the early PS2, especially the hilarious fire effects, which in one level don't look so much like the building is on fire, but instead looks like a really cheap fire texture was layered over the world geometry. For a game this basic in design quality, there's no reason for it to need such a high-end system to keep the frame rate at a playable level.

So, what keeps this game from a one-star review? Quite simply, the voice work. Mickey Rourke delivers a hilarious B-movie action hero performance as Dick Marcinko, spending equal time making foul-mouthed, stupidly macho quips while killing enemies and looking at scenery and flipping off his superior officer in ways that would get any real soldier court marshaled. Indeed, Dick is such an over-inflated badass in this game that it would be impossible for anyone entering this game without prior knowledge of him to think that he was a fictional character. Did I mention he was foul mouthed? While not quite as prolific with the F-word as House of the Dead: Overkill, it sure as hell comes close, and throws a bunch of other obscenities around, inviting his enemies to suck on his testicles, commenting about the size of the North Korean leader's penis, and all around just sounding like the most horrible human being on the planet. It's such a hilarious, over-the-top persona that it manages to turn around and become charming in a way that the far more recent Duke Nukem Forever can't hope to match. It's a shame that Dick and his superior are the only speaking characters until the ending, which is nowhere satisfying.

It's a shame that the game requires such ridiculously high specs to run, because for people who can enjoy a dumb game would be in heaven here. Rogue Warrior is one of the rare games that are charmingly stupid and fun to play despite all its myriad faults. Here's hoping any potential sequels can marry this high-level stupidity with solid performance and more compelling action.