Terminal Gamer Review – Rogue Warrior

Curse Your Way Through Eight Short, Ugly, and Broken Levels of Action and Stealth Gameplay

Rogue Warrior is loosely based on the real-life, Navy Seal figure Richard “Demo Dick” Marcinko. Marcinko is an accomplished individual, having been the commander of SEAL Team Two and the creator of SEAL Team SIX, the Navy’s first and only counter-terrorist unit. Afterwards, Marcinko led the Red Cell division of the Navy, which was designed to test the protection of our highly-secured bases. He was able to infiltrate many high security areas, highlighting weaknesses. He even infiltrated Air Force One.

In the game Rogue Warrior, you take on the role of Dick Marcinko in a fictional narrative. Placed behind enemy lines in North Korea in the 1980s, you are supposed to rendezvous with an intelligence operative who has information on North Korean missile systems. Instead, your teammates are killed and you decide to go it alone.

You utilize your talents as both an excellent shot and a stealthy, knife-assisted killer who can sneak through areas of tight security, stabbing, neck-breaking, and ledge-tossing enemy soldiers.

While, in theory, Rogue Warrior sounds fun, in execution it fails miserably. Rogue Warrior isn’t just a bad game, it is an awful game whose mechanics are so broken, the AI so stupid, and the controls so finicky that the novelty of sneaking around behind the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union and North Korea is completely ruined.

It's not as fun as it looks...

It's not as fun as it looks...

Rogue Warrior is a game that balances equal parts stealth and action. It is quite possible to sneak through a good part of each level without being seen. The problem is that doing so doesn’t require much skill. That’s because Rogue Warrior’s North Korean and Soviet Russian guards usually stand idly by railings without moving, just waiting for you to toss them over the edge or stab them in the back. The game manual touts that you can shoot out lights and windows to confuse and distract the guards, but quite honestly, I saw no effect. They usually just became alerted to my presence and began firing on me while occasionally ducking behind cover.

When involved in such firefights, I died more than I should have. Unfortunately, Rogue Warrior’s enemy soldiers are, most of the time, ridiculously hard to kill. Shooting a guard in the head with your silenced pistol would seem like an easy way to dispatch an enemy silently, but nine times out of ten, the guard would spin around, find cover, and take fifteen or twenty more bullets before finally falling down.

Beyond the awful damage system in Rogue Warrior are equally awful controls. The controls are so stiff and inaccurate that I often had to stand, looking down the scope of my gun, for a few seconds (enough time to take five or ten bullets in my side) before I could actually train the gun on the enemy’s body. In addition, looking down the sights of a gun blocks nearly everything else from view, making for a disastrously awful shooting experience in which I couldn’t see anything else on the battlefield but the area my sight was aiming at.

The enemy AI usually fires at you, ducks, fires at you, ducks, fires at you...

The enemy AI usually fires at you, ducks, fires at you, ducks, fires at you...

When fighting it is also quite easy to simply perform kill moves on enemy soldiers. The kill moves, such as stabbing a soldier in the throat or snapping his neck or tossing him off a ledge, is performed by pushing the “A” button on the Xbox 360. Unfortunately, even this doesn’t work well. There were countless moments when I snuck up behind a soldier, pressed “A”, and saw nothing happen. Cue soldier turning around and beginning to shoot me. Cue tossing my controller and screaming at the screen.

In addition, Rogue Warrior is absurdly short. It has a total of 8 missions, each about 10 to 20 minutes long. In addition, the missions only have about 20 to 30 enemy soldiers, even when they’re “guarding” ballistic missiles. Combine the game’s short length with a lack of enemy soldiers and you have a game that is not worth its salt.

Finally, Rogue Warrior has the worst graphics I’ve seen in this generation of consoles, and some truly awful sound bytes. Honestly, Rogue Warrior looks about as good as “Black” did on the original Xbox. The levels are bland. The rooms in the levels are empty. The character models look terrible, and there is no sense of realism left in this game when it’s “cold enough to freeze the nuts off a polar bear,” and our hero, Mr. Marcinko, is wearing a tee-shirt as he slips into Arctic water. Get this man a jacket!!! Honestly, what why was he dropped off in a North Korean winter wearing nothing but a tee-shirt?

The sound is unique, and is the game’s most original factor. This is mostly thanks to the fact that the excellent Mickey Rourke was hired to voice the worst video game script of all time. Rourke works his way through a script that is filled to the brim with curse words and ridiculous obscenities that often don’t even make sense. Beyond the classic line, “It was cold enough to freeze the nuts off a polar bear,” he spouts wisdom such as “mother______ers” and “bitch-ass commie bitches”. The script is horrendous, and maybe recognized as such, given the rap montage that plays during the closing credits in which Marcinko’s lines are played over and over again behind a thumping bass beat.

"Arrrghhhhhh! You finally stabbed me after hitting the "A" button twenty times!!!

"Arrrghhhhhh! You finally stabbed me after hitting the "A" button twenty times!!!

At the end of a short couple of hours playing Rogue Warrior, this game is not worth the $60 price tag. In fact, when asked by a Gamestop employee about the title the other day, I told him I didn’t even think it was worth a rental. The honest truth is that Rogue Warrior is fun for only a little bit. The novelty of sneaking up behind enemies and watching them die in horrible ways wears off quickly. Then, the horrible graphics, slow framerate, awful shooting controls, stupid AI and God-awful script take over. Rogue Warrior is like a gaming hell. I had to will myself to finish it (though, I do give Rebellion credit for making the last two levels of Rogue Warrior infinitely more fun than the first six).

Rogue Warrior is only worth a look if you are a die-hard Dick Marcinko fan or if you have nothing better to do than to waste sixty bucks and a few hours of your life on a frustrating, horribly bad game.

The Scorecard


+ Sneaking up behind unknowing Soviets and North Koreans is fun, for a while.

+ The last two levels are infinitely better than the first six.

– The worst graphics I’ve seen this generation. The horror…

– The awful, awful, obscenity-filled script Mickey Rourke had to work with

– The worst shooter controls imaginable.

– A “kill move” button that doesn’t even work half the time.

– It is a full priced game that should be packaged as “a classic from the 90s” and sold on Xbox Live Arcade