President Regan sends his regards.
Rogue Warrior is considered one of the all-time worst games. Huh? How can a shooter based on a Navy SEAL’s autobiography voiced by Mickey Rourke set in the 80s developed by the studio behind the original Aliens vs Predator game be an all-time bad? We love so-bad-it’s-good games here at PW.com, time to prove a decade of bad reviews wrong.
They were right. This is bad. Like straight-to-Amazon Prime bad. Yet… this might be the best worst shooter since the Naked Gun of FPS, Medal of Honor Warfighter.
Richard Marcinko and his team of crack commandos are dropped into North Korea to investigate how they’ve suddenly become a Nuclear superpower. When his team is decimated, Marcinko ignores orders to withdraw and starts a one-man war with the NK Army to avenge his men and send North Korea back to the stone age.
On release, some reviewers talked about the aged level design, others focused on the bugs and glitches, many noted the bad shooter mechanics, the puddle-deep plot or the rip-off runtime, and all of them took time to mention what a potty-mouth Marcinko is. I don’t think he utters a single sentence without a fuck in it. It’s like gaming with Derek & Clive.
He just can’t stop himself. I shot a fusebox to sneak unseen but Marcinko then screamed “Chew on this fuckheads!”. Shush, this is an “under the radar” op and so far you’ve done everything you can to draw attention. For a career solider it does seem as if Marcinko hates his job. He complains about absolutely everything; whenever a NK soldier appears, he’s bitching like he just got an email at 5.29. One level opens in the grounds of a mansion and Marcinko says “I hate hedge mazes”.
He scared the crap out of me suddenly yelling “FUCK PISS GODDAMN SHIT!” and I thought the stress was triggering his Tourette’s – then I realised a sniper had clipped me. I think the level of offense is actually communicating how badly injured he is - walking into gunfire elicited ‘GODDAMN COCKBREATH COMMIE MOTHERFUCKERS!’ which I took to mean ‘get to cover’. Guess it beats looking down at a heart tattoo.
In fact, it starts to get a little… homoerotic. He constantly yells phrases that both offend and give you pause, such as “C’mon chew it pencil dick”, “you sweet piece of shit”, “gonna be fuckin' asses bleeding” and a personal favourite, “suck my balls, my hairy fucking big balls, wrap them around your mouth”. What? He’s like Bennet in Commando, hating and loving Matrix. Marcinko’s just looking for someone to stick his knife into.
Eventually though, after I got bullshit killed, I realised Marcinko is just reacting to things the way I do when gaming – I’m constantly yelling expletives during a shooter, and many are as nonsensical and offensive as Marcinko’s growls. It’s online smack talk. But when he raises the issue of hedge mazes, the cocksucking penny fucking drops – we're in a comedy.
I mean, imagine if you’re some NK Solider just milling about when in the distance you hear Mickey Rourke hollering that he’s going to gut someone like a fish, or offering his hairy balls. RW is an outrageous parody of FPS and the VHS actioners we adore, from Marcinko’s opening monologue about how this mission is a “thin line between a simple op and a total goat fuck” to the simplistic run‘n’gun aesthetic – it’s basically the last thirty minutes of Commando. We’re here for the Goat Fuck, but what we get is so outrageous it leaves you shellshocked and questioning the entire FPS genre.
It opens by calling us a Pussy for choosing the Easy option and thinking ourselves fucking special for picking Hard. No backstory, no moral choices, no point, just level after level of bad shooting and swearing with the occasional pause for some America, Fuck Yeah Patriotism. And let’s not forget Marcinko’s kill quote to end all 80’s actioner quotes “President Regan sends his regards.” You expect Robert Davi to play the main villain if it had one. It’s just surreal, like it’s trying to be as hilariously bad as possible. Realistically, NK’s not actually done anything wrong, they’re just protecting themselves from this hairy ball of insanity.
What makes it even more dreamlike is we’re playing a real-life Navy SEAL, the inventor of SEAL Team Six – the go-to black ops group for many a shooter. This was originally based on his autobiography. Technically, RW is a ‘based on a true story’ shooter?
Still, it is a terrible, terrible game, a pure linear push-forward shooter where you Wack-A-Mole the bad guys in familiar locations over and over, and it’s shockingly short - under three hours. It’s obviously a troubled, half-finished game booted out the door when they realised it was past saving; and this was publisher Bethesda’s second go at it - the first attempt was aborted, and the game restarted - and this was better? It’s missing a boss fight and ends abruptly – it’s like a regular shooter’s tutorial.
But once Marcinko expressed his hatred for hedge mazes, I was on board. It’s easily the best worst game I’ve played all year. And you can get it for under a fiver on Steam. While it’s not a fan of modern systems, the forums have ideas on getting it to run, and once you do, you won’t be disappointed. Well, you will – in every way it’s possible to be bad, RW excels, but it’s just so much fun watching all this bad onscreen. Grab a beer, load it up and learn some new ways to swear. If anyone says this isn’t so bad it’s good, just quote an in-action Marcinko; “You fucking pig farmer, drop dead motherfucker, you fucking amateurs!”