Rogue Trooper
| Rogue Trooper

Being born bald and blue would be enough to make most people fairly angry. But when you throw in the fact that you're a soldier in a post-apocalyptic future, there's a whole load of additional ire to fan the flames of your miffedness.

For starters, there's the clichéd-ness of it all. Post-apocalyptic future? Is there any other kind a poor sci-fi warrior could hope to be plunged into? Secondly, and perhaps more relevantly, your squad has been betrayed by an evil general, serving you and your comrades up to the enemy Nort soldiers in a bloody ambush. Grr!

So, with a larger-than-average chip on your shoulder, you embark on a series of missions where you aim is to kill others without getting killed yourself. Nothing too cerebral, but then you're a genetically-engineered, gun-toting military man. You do what you were built for.

Viewed from a top-down perspective, you control the titular Rogue Trooper and explore a series of labyrinth-like levels. Generally, you're tasked with two objectives to complement the killing: to find the exit to the level, and to solve various puzzles along the way.

As we've mentioned, this isn't a brain draining game and the puzzles consist of little more than locating a computer terminal to lower a bridge, disable mines or switch off laser trip-wires that would otherwise impede your progress.

This means the focus of Rogue Trooper is placed squarely on the shooting – and what a lot of shooting there is. Countless enemy soldiers emerge from the caves, tents and barracks spread around the levels, and it's up to you and your trusty gun to see them off.

When we say 'you and your gun', we mean it – your rifle contains the personality of one of your deceased comrades and you can put it down and set it up as a sentry gun whenever you want. This provides you with valuable fire support when you need to hack into a computer console and means you can cover an enemy foxhole while you nip off to do something more interesting.

It's a neat touch and is, actually, about the only original element to be found in Rogue Trooper. Otherwise you could simply impose any setting and plot onto the game (World War 1 or 2, Vietnam, Korea, the Gulf War) and you'd know no different.

This lack of individuality is accompanied by a set of controls so sluggish that it's in danger of crawling off to munch on your salad greens. It hurts the gameplay as you're not able to manoeuvre in a responsive enough fashion to hit and run when fighting enemy troops.

Instead of nipping in, firing off a few shots and then scarpering, you're forced into walking to within range, trading fire with your target and hoping that your health lasts longer than the bad guy's.

This war-of-attrition approach is an apt analogy for the game as a whole, as you're going to need dogged determination to put up with Rogue Trooper's antics for more than a couple of levels.

The uninspiring setting (which works well in the 2001AD comic book, from which Rogue Trooper hails, but not here) and the clumsy controls combine to create an atmosphere of routine rather than excitement.

Which might well be an attractive option for real soldiers (excitement for them generally involves bullets, high-explosives and shortened careers), but not pocket gaming grunts, who are best advised to look for their bangs'n'bombs elsewhere.

Rogue Trooper

It's a good-looking grunt, granted, but in this case looks can't kill