Kemco ceded the UK publishing rights to Capcom. Kikizo determines whether or not Capcom have a hit on their hands in our full review.
By Kikizo Staff
Nikki Connors is an ex-Green Beret whose husband and child are murdered at the hands of Omega 19, a terrorist organization with sinister ambitions and an arsenal of recently acquired Cold War-era weapons necessary to fulfill them. Some games manage to entertain in spite of themselves and Rogue Ops, despite first impressions to the contrary, is one such title. The storyline, as evidenced by the short synopsis above, is as rudimentary as it is trite; a predictable yarn detailing Connors' lust for revenge and the clandestine government agency willing to provide her with the opportunity to exact said revenge in return for her able-bodied services. It is also but one of a number of flaws in a title that, somewhat bafflingly, proves to be moderately enjoyable.
As with titles of similar ilk, players guide Ms. Connors through a collection of exotic locales, utilizing her physical abilities, as well as the requisite agglomeration of weapons and gadgets, in order to circumvent various traps and security measures. And if need be, to dispense with any resistance she might encounter. Bits Studios, to their credit, have attempted to differentiate Rogue Ops from its peers through the implementation of a handful of gameplay mechanics not usually associated with the genre. The most apparent of these is a context-sensitive targeting reticle, a laudable idea on paper, but one that is inherently flawed in its execution. You see, interaction with the environment is handled exclusively through the use of this mechanic, whether climbing a ladder, jumping onto a narrow ledge, activating a switch, executing a stealth kill, searching a corpse, hiding a body or opening a door. It's even colour-coded to allow players to discern whether or not they can interact with said object at a mere glance.
The problem however, is that this reticle only appears when the camera is correctly positioned with reference to that specific object, the outcome of which is players wandering aimlessly around a room as they attempt to see what they can and cannot interact with. Oftentimes, you'll likely know what it is you must do, or worse, think you know, yet are unable to do so because of the absence of the targeting reticle. This point-and-click style of interaction handles elementary tasks well enough, but habitually fails at the most inopportune times, like when you desperately need to avoid detection. Granted, one becomes accustomed to its idiosyncrasies as you progress into the title, but it is a mechanic that is only ever tolerated by the player, as opposed to one that becomes an indispensable tool.
The missions themselves, though mostly standard fare in terms of objectives, offer a modicum of ingenuity. Solutions to puzzles are often inventive, if not entirely logical and make for some enjoyable feats on the part of the player. On the downside, there is often only one pre-determined solution to any given puzzle, and in those levels where some leeway is afforded, the alternative amounts to nothing more than a 'guns-blazing' approach as opposed to another wholly legitimate solution. For its flaws, Rogue Ops does provide an interesting slant on some genre-staple ideas. Stealth kills, for example, are made more intense by the fact that once players have managed to sneak close enough to an enemy to perform the kill, they must enter a series of directional button presses within a given time limit or else risk discovery and subsequent retaliation. Or worse still, in those missions that demand it, failure due to discovery by the enemy. Other rudimentary stealth elements such as shooting from cover and sneaking along walls are adequately implemented, but with gun drawn, players will find Nikki's once lithe movement to be severely hampered, making fire-fights more of a chore than need be.
A competent, if somewhat underwhelming engine powers Nikki Connors' adventures. Nikki, for her part, is modeled well enough, though she lacks more refined touches such as real-time cloth and hair animation. The environments suffer from drab, almost staid presentation, offering sparse lighting and environmental effects that are in turn hampered by framerate problems and noticeable aliasing -- the PS2's long-standing nemesis. The title's visual acuity is above average, but lags appreciably behind the titles it apes such as Splinter Cell and Metal Gear Solid. During the missions themselves, interactions with agency personnel take place via MGS-like codec sequences, though the lip-synching in these is terrible, amounting to little more than the character's jaw opening and closing at various intervals.
Though given little to work with in terms of a script, the voice actors proffer sub-par performances, over-acting their respective roles with B-movie aplomb, while demonstrating the emotional range of cardboard with ridiculous banter and shameful one-liners. Plaudits to the development team for small nuances like the ability to overhear NPC conversations mid-mission. Yet another staple of the genre, but it does add a sense of immersion to proceedings, however small. Silence pervades much of the in-game action, punctuated only by the occasional up-tempo beat as enemies are alerted to your presence or when engaged in combat.
Rogue Ops suffers much in terms of presentation, but in spite of its all too evident flaws and chronic lack of originality, it offers a surprisingly engaging experience that can be appreciated by all but the most demanding of genre fanatics. An above average stealth title and one of Bits Studios best products to date.