In the highly competitive world of first-person shooters, it's hard to believe that a game like Rogue Warrior actually made it to shelves. That's not to say that it's a horrible, buggy mess or anything like that. But the gameplay is astoundingly generic, and the single-player portion of the game lasts somewhere between three and four hours. Also, it has two stock multiplayer modes--deathmatch and team deathmatch--neither of which are much fun. It's the sort of game that might make sense as a throwaway budget title, but at full price, Rogue Warrior shouldn't be on anyone's list. But... there's something about Rogue Warrior that sort of makes it stand out, even when you take into account its otherwise bland nature.
That something is the game's dialogue. It's read by Mickey Rourke, who mutters all of his lines in a way that sounds closer to sleepy than bad-ass. Specifically, it's the content of that dialogue that stands out. Rogue Warrior might be the filthiest, most curse-filled game to ever make its way onto console. When you step into the shoes of real-life Navy SEAL "Demo" Dick Marcinko, you're stepping in a heaping pile of shit. Shits, really. And fucks. And motherfuckers. Almost every line of dialogue, from "eat shit, fuckbag" to "happy fucking birthday" to "rock and roll, motherfuckers, rock and roll" is peppered with the type of language you wouldn't want your mother to hear. Half the time, the lines barely make sense when set against the action. That will certainly be a turn-off to those of you with more sensitive ears. But even if you're accustomed to the rough stuff, the way it's used in Rogue Warrior is only good at making the game a bit more laughable than it would be otherwise. Without the over-the-top language, Rogue Warrior wouldn't have any discernible characteristics at all.
On the story side of things, you play as Marcinko immediately after he's inserted into North Korean territory, where he's planning to investigate a missile-building operation. In true Rambo-like fashion, Dick doesn't stand down after figuring out what's going on. Rather than waiting for backup, you'll infiltrate Russia, blow up some more missiles, destroy a bunker or a palace or two, and then get out. Right about that time, the credits roll. It's a short and uneventful experience with a lone payoff in the end credits, which plays a song featuring stitched-together lines of dialogue. Sometimes it rhymes. You could watch that without playing the game and get just as much out of it as I did.
The gameplay allows for a bit of stealth and even includes close-up melee kills, which are canned animations that play out when you get close to an enemy and hit the action button. These usually involve Marcinko burying his knife deep into the skulls or torsos of his foes, and they get repetitive quickly. Also, in multiple cases the icon for the kill move would appear, but hitting the appropriate button wouldn't actually trigger the animation. It all feels very sloppy.
The shooting isn't much better. The movement feels stiff, and motions like looking down the sights of your gun feel sluggish, like it's taking more time than it should. Also, the guns take up large portions of the screen when you're aiming down the sights, which can make it hard to line up headshots. I ended up playing most of the game with the default pistol, which is silenced and has infinite ammunition.
The game also has a multiplayer mode, which offers both deathmatch and team deathmatch on a handful of maps. Though you can perform the knife-based kill animations in multiplayer, it only takes a few bullets to drop an enemy. Also, I ran into an issue with the 360 version where, after a match ended, it rolled the credits and gave me an an achievement for finishing a single-player level without dying. Since it played the amazing credit music again, I wasn't too bummed out about that. The multiplayer, like most of Rogue Warrior, is functional, but totally uninspired, with no hook to keep you coming back.
Visually, the game sports some pretty awful effects. Though "Demo" Dick is supposed to be blowing things up left and right, the explosions look awfully pathetic. The animation is incredibly stiff and the enemy character models look really bad. Marcinko himself looks passable, compared to the rest of the game. Also, the frame rate is consistently low, with heavier dips during busy scenes or knife kill animations. It's an ugly-looking game from top to bottom.
You have to wonder how something like this makes its way onto shelves as a full-priced product. Though there's some sort of ironic fun to be had by cruising through the short campaign and listening to Mickey Rourke shout obscenities, it's practically impossible to wring $60 of excitement out of this disc. If you're the ironic type that loves dumb games, you'll have a few laughs at Rogue Warrior's expense, but even compared to ironic favorites like 50 Cent: Blood on the Sand, Rogue Warrior comes up short.