Summary: Based on the input of real-life Navy SEAL Richard Marcinko, Bethesda is bringing us the Unreal Engine 3 powered Rogue Warrior. JCal has the scoop.
If the name of the game is a little familiar, it should be. Rogue Warrior is the name of the best selling non-fiction book written in 1992 by Richard “Dick” Marcinko where he recounts his former military life of 30 years as founder of the counter-terrorist SEAL Team Six where he and his team were sent into missions around the world, from Africa to the Middle East to Central America and more. Later he was a leader of Navy SEAL team Red Cell, which was designed to test out the security of military bases by staging simulated raids on them. Marcinko is a very controversial military figure and in fact was sentenced to federal prison in 1990 for 21 months on charges of defrauding the US government over the price of military weapons contracts for hand grenades (Marcinko maintains in his book he was set up as part of a witch hunt by a number of senior military officers who he claims were embarrassed by the raids on their bases as part of his time leading Red Cell). After writing Rogue Warrior Marcinko co-wrote a number of fictional novels under the Rogue Warrior series, and served as an advisor for moves like The Rock, GI Jane, and TV shows like 24. He is currently the chairman of Red Cell International, a private security firm
Bethesda Softworks wanted to get back into making action games (its last entry in first person shooters were a series of games based on the Terminator movies 10 years ago) and got together with Marcinko to secure the video and PC game rights for the Rogue Warrior series. They then enlisted Marcinko and other former and current Navy SEALs to work as active consultants. Zombie got the heads-up to develop the game itself. Marcinko attended the Rogue Warrior game press event and he comes across as a person who doesn’t quite fit your normal assumption of a Navy SEAL. He’s clearly strong but not the silent type with a full beard, long hair and wearing beach shorts in a room of game journalists wearing jeans. However it’s clear that he knows his stuff and while he admitted to FiringSquad he doesn’t play video or PC games himself he will be a major source of info for the Rogue Warrior dev team
The game itself takes place a few years in the future and has a storyline that’s about as topical as you can get these days; the rise of a very hostile North Korea. In the brief but live game demo (we were not allowed to actually play the game) we got to see an opening in-game cinematic where a fictional version of Marcinko and three other Navy SEALs are being transported via a mini-sub to a mission inside North Korea, specifically a shipbreaker yard where old hulks of ships are being torn apart for scrap. It doesn’t take long for the mission to turn sour for the SEAL team, as their plans for a swift extraction go haywire due to a firefight. The demo ended with another in-game cinematic showing the full scale invasion of South Korea by North Korea. The bulk of the game will showcase the fictional Marcinko and his team trying to find a way to get out of the war-torn country to get back home. Naturally, the North Korean military has other ideas.
Due to the large maps the game itself won’t be strictly linear in terms of accomplishing tasks one by one Players will be able to take one of several routes in each level to achieve their goals, whether to kill a guard, blow up a car or something else. The demo also showcased the AI of your three other teammates along with your enemies. For your fellow SEAL teammates, you can order them to move or issue other commands as you can in other tactical shooters like Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon. However the team at Zombie have also created AI that will hopefully turn your SEAL members into more that just sitting ducks in a firefire. If they “see” a threat they will fire and will instinctively go for cover. Likewise the AI of your enemy seems to be pretty sharp based on the press demo. They will see if something is amiss and go to investigate.
This latter feature comes in handy for one of the cool things seen in the Rogue Warrior demo. After you initiate a swift kill on an enemy, you can actually set a bomb on your unfortunate bait. When a fellow guard goes to investigate, BOOM. You get the idea. While we only saw a portion of an early level, Zombie team members assured us that there will be a variety of missions and locations in Rogue Warrior (including an underwatrer mission; this is a Navy SEAL team we are taking about after all).
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Rogue Warrior at this stage is the game’s plan for multiplayer. Most multiplayer games have anywhere from 10-30 multiplayer maps out of the box but Zombie and BethSoft are taking a different approach on how maps are handled in this game. Simply put instead of a number of fixed levels, the multiplayer maps are handled via a tile system. Each of the game’s two teams picks one of six or seven tiles that will be in the final game. Each rectangular tile is a different kind of location (North Korean temple, warehouse, etc) that is essentially a mini-level in of itself. Then the server picks the middle tile. When the game begins each team only knows which tile they picked for themselves; they have no idea what the other team or the server has placed there for the match. The result is that the map they finally play on has a degree of randomness to it; Zombie team members told us that there could be as many as 200 different combinations of multiplayer maps (allowing for both daytime and nighttime versions of the tiles). The final screenshot in our gallery section for the game shows an example of what a Rogue Warrior multiplayer level looks like from above.
In addition to the tile multiplayer modes, the entire single player game will feature co-op mode for up to four people (AI bots will stand in for the other players in case no live people are around). Usually you have to get your buddies together before you begin playing most co-op games but in Rogue Warrior people will be able to leave and come back again on the fly without going through menus or having to save your progress each time.
With a real life former Navy SEAL at the helm, a topical storyline, some impressive AI, the always good-looking Unreal Engine 3, and some ground breaking new multiplayer options, Rogue Warrior already has us very interested. The final game isn’t due out until the fall of 2007 which means there is plenty of time to add more cool features and refine the game’s multiplayer system but our brief glimpse into the game has showed us its potential. We will have more info and interviews with the team members about Rogue Warrior in the months ahead of its release
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