First Impressions: Kick some short ugly dictator butt.
Richard Marcinko is a bad-ass. What else can you call a former Navy SEAL Commander and 30-year veteran who created SEAL Team Six, the Navy's first counterterrorism unit, and Red Cell, a special unit that tests the Navy's anti-terrorist capabilities for heavily secured areas like Air Force One? And thanks to Bethesda and Zombie, we will be able to experience first-hand just how bad-ass the man can be.
Rogue Warrior is based on Marcinko's fictional novels and will feature realistic SEAL situations. You will play as the man himself as you lead a four-member SEAL squad into North Korea to discover if Kim Jong Il really does look that goofy in person. However, Kimmy-boy's Napoleon complex kicks in and his armies attack South Korea, cutting your squad off from the border. You must then work your way through hostile territory to stick it to the height-challenged dictator and find safe haven.
Marcinko isn't a man to dilly-dally around (in fact, I highly doubt ?dilly-dally? is in his vocabulary) so it's not surprising that he wanted a game based on his experiences to be as realistic as possible. Developer Zombie Studios is definitely a good choice since they not only create great games, but also real military simulators used by the Department of Defense, defense contractors and university researchers. Their resume includes America's Army: Special Forces and the Future Force Company Commander RTS used to simulate a Future Combat System battle command station.
Since real life doesn't follow a linear path, neither will Rogue Warrior. Instead, you will be free to approach your various objectives in a variety of ways, thanks in part to the huge open maps which will include a shipyard, rainforest, rural villages and prison camps. This means you can be stealthy like Sam Fisher, guns a'blazin' like Rambo or anything in between.
To help enhance the immersive experience, the screen will very clean with no HUD (similar to King Kong) and you will have the option of playing in the first or third-person view. You will also start with a limited amount of ammo and supplies, meaning you will have to find fresh supplies as you make your way back to the border. You will be able to use a variety of authentic weapons and can set booby traps like remote activated explosives and trip wires for those times when you want to make a really
big mess. You can also drive vehicles which will suffer realistic area-specific damage.
The enemy AI will react realistically to their environment, so if they see something amiss ? like a comrade with a big bullet hole in his head ? they will be on alert and investigate the area. There will be several types of enemies, ranging from the basic soldier to the elite North Korean Special Forces who will be your toughest opponents. These guys will constantly talk to one another on radios and are smart enough to realize something's wrong if one of their comrades doesn't respond ? so while capping a guy with a radio is satisfying, you should expect some company real soon.
Fortunately, you won't have to deal with the enemy by yourself. Your three AI squadmates will lend a helping hand and are pretty darn smart too. You can give them commands but if you leave them alone, they will mimic your playing style ? so if you're creeping quietly in the shadows, they will do the same; start shooting and they will join in on the fun. If the AI works as promised, hopefully we can forget about those annoying situations when we're trying to quietly get into position only to have our cover blown by an overzealous AI teammate who is walking stupidly out in the open or starts shooting the instant he spots an enemy.
Of course, kicking butt is more fun with real friends at your side, and so the game will support four-player co-operative play over Xbox Live. Players can join at anytime and when they leave, the AI will seamlessly take over their character.
But the big news about Rogue Warrior is the unique adversarial online multiplayer ?tile voting? system. The multiplayer maps will be divided into three sections or ?tiles?, with the computer randomly selecting the middle tile. Each team will then vote on which tile they want for their side of the map, and only when the game launches do you find out which tile the opposing team has chosen. It's a very cool concept that gives you a huge variety of maps ? there are currently over 200 tile combinations ? and puts a severe crimp on the boredom factor of playing the same maps over and over.
The tile system also gives you the ability to set your side of the map to best suit your playing style. If you want to be stealthy, you'll need a tile with a lot of foliage, shadows and water you can swim under; on the other hand, if you like camping with a sniper rifle, you'll want one with high ground and choke points. But remember, this only works with your tile; the center tile is random and you'll have no idea what your opponents have on their side until you get there. This unpredictability will no doubt add a nice twist to the gameplay and require you to adjust your tactics on the fly.
The developers also considered adding the ability for players to create their own maps, but found it wasn't technically and economically feasible. However, they are definitely looking at offering downloadable maps, which would exponentially increase the number of tile combinations.
With up to 24 players online, we should expect some intense battles. If you can't find a full room, however, you will be able to play against bots to hone your skills. Zombie is currently experimenting with over a dozen gamemodes, most of which emphasize teamwork and capturing Control points like Battlefield. These include the standard deathmatch, team deathmatch and CTF, along with:
Control points can only be captured once (in other words, they can't be converted to another team), so you'll need to be quick to win this one.
Similar to Halo's Juggernaut mode, one person is randomly chosen as the Fleet Admiral, who earns points for each kill; if you kill the Admiral, you become the Admiral. The winner is the one who earns the most points.
Hold and Conquer:
Similar to Battlefield, your team must hold all Control points simultaneously to win.
King of the Hill:
Pretty self-explanatory, but with only the center tile's Control points active, the fighting will be compacted and intense.
You earn points for each kill and rank up, with more points for killing higher ranked players. The winner is the one with the highest rank at the end of the round.
Pure Time Capture:
Similar to Halo's Territories, you earn Time Points for every Control point you have; the more points you capture, the more time you earn.
A minimum of two teammates are required to capture a Control point, meaning you will have to use teamwork and coordinate your efforts to win.
One team member is randomly chosen as the VIP, who is the only person capable of capturing Control points. If he dies, the VIP status transfers to another teammate.
There are no pre-set soldier classes but you can create your own ?specialist? based on your chosen equipment load out. You could choose the med kit if you want to revive teammates, a PDA map device to call out tactical information, booby traps to be a pain in the butt, and so on. How you equip yourself will also depend on your team's strategy, the particular game type you're playing, and the tile you choose. In other words, you'll have to work together as a team and compliment each other's roles. For example, you may want to have a scout sneak ahead with his PDA map, pair up your VIP with a medic, and cover them with a sniper.
The game is using the Unreal 3 engine so needless to say it looks outstanding. Characters are highly detailed as are the lush jungle environments, with impressive dynamic lighting, shadow and particle effects. In keeping with the emphasis on reality, Marcinko and real ex-SEALs will provide their voice talents to the game.