As regular readers of TheFeed know, I recently lost a bet to Patrick "Scoop" Klepek, the terms of which called for me to complete Rogue Warrior on the PlayStation 3. I am a man of honor, and this weekend, I fired up RW (as I call it) and sacrificed roughly two hours of my life to the game.
While widely regarded as the worst game in recent memory, after having played it, I think everyone has missed the point of this game. Rogue Warrior is a work of genius.
Rogue Warrior's gameplay is so generic, its protagonist so unlikeable, its level design so simplistic, its profanity so relentlessly pointless, its mechanics so slipshod, its level design so boring and its plot so stupid, that I can only believe it was done on purpose. There's no way a group of game developers could possibly have made every single mistake a first-person shooter can make, and not be doing it for a greater purpose.
Rogue Warrior is a commentary on bad games themselves, and deserves to be considered as an illustration of every failure of the FPS genre, a gaming cautionary tale for the ages.
For example: At one point, the game's main character, Navy SEAL "Demo" Dick Marcinko, is ordered by the only other character in the game, Admiral Payton, to stop his mission, so as to avoid causing an International incident between the USSR and USA, perhaps triggering WWIII and the nuclear annihilation of all mankind. Any sane person would then turn back, but not Marchinko. "I'm not going to listen to you, Mr. Authority Figure," Marcinko (kinda) says, "I'm a rogue warrior, and I'm going after those commies single-handedly, consequences be damned!"
A person could not have written this scene with a straight face. No protagonist could be that witless. No story could hinge on such an obviously foolish man unless there's something deeper there.
The level designer must have intended the game's string of gray corridors, gray control rooms and gray office settings to be boring as commentary on the generic nature of many shooters, because they are so absolutely, quintessentially boring. It's like a distillation of boredom: Walk to check point. Shoot guys. Walk to next check point. Shoot guys. Like your worst nightmare come to life.
Rourke's constant string of curses are the only thing about this dreary game that amuses, but amusing isn't really the point. "Perhaps," Rogue Warrior's meta-narrative seems to ask, "Saying F*ck every other word actually diminishes the power of the word?" Rogue Warrior's main character's endless pleasure in killing people, his profanity laden dialog, and lack of any motivation could be seen as comment on the futility of War.
Far from the triumphant heroism Marcinko imagines for himself, his actual visit behind enemy lines is a joyless trudge through hell... and that's the point. The combination of nihilistic violence, anonymous enemies and cage-like level design suggest that Marcinko is already dead, and his mission an endless replay of an ill-spent life -- the ultimate punishment for an immoral existence. "These are the Wages of Sin!" Rogue Warrior screams at the player. But it's not only Marcinko who is suffering. You, the player, are right there with him, in your own personal hell.
Rogue Warrior is a thinking man's game, and I am a better person for having played it. Thank you, Patrick "Scoop" Klepek for allowing me the opportunity to grow as a person through Rogue Warrior.
What do you guys think? Did I come close to convincing you to check out Rogue Warrior?