Bethesda has had its fair share of hits over the past few years, and they're especially well known for their Elder Scrolls titles. The last, Oblivion , took a while to complete – which isn't surprising at all, considering the sheer size of that game – but as soon as they finished up, they dove right into Rogue Warrior with developer Zombie. The game is set to release some time later next year for the PS3, Xbox 360, and PC, and it's already starting to gain some positive press around the Internet. Sites like IGN have already been lucky enough to go hands-on, and many others are just itching to see more.
Based on the written autobiography of Dick Marcinko, a Navy SEAL who created the Navy's first counter-terrorism unit, SEAL Team Six, Rogue Warrior is kinda like the virtual autobiography. This game is a first-person tactical shooter that is set to utilize the acclaimed Unreal engine to forge some seriously large environments for the gamer's viewing pleasure. You'll follow the tale of the man they call Marcinko, first infiltrating North Korea and then moving on to undertake missions in a variety of areas. Of course, because it's supposed to be free-roaming, not everything will go smoothly, and you'll be forced to improvise nearly every step of the way. In North Korea, for example, you're cut off from any reinforcement help because those silly North Koreans decided to launch an attack against their neighbors to the south.
Supposedly, the interesting part of an early demo is that the gameplay screen doesn't feature the standard HUD. We're all familiar with a variety of HUD setups in shooters over the past few years, but to have none at all? It seems like a bold move on the part of Zombie, and if it works smoothly, it should succeed in fully absorbing the player into the world of stealth action. So you won't be mistaking this one for a standard shooter, especially when you find out you can play in both first-person or third-person, thus adding another significant option to the core gameplay. Whichever view you choose, you'll be faced with a variety of challenges that can be approached in numerous ways…a definite bonus regardless of what game you might be playing.
The purpose of this one is to make a statement, obviously. And that statement says with a resounding battle cry, "All shooters should not be made equal! Let each thrive on its own unique and immersive merits!" Most shooters, even though some claim to be "open-ended" and "freedom-oriented," still have a basic gameplay style in mind. But Rogue Warrior isn't looking to restrict you; tackling each combat obstacle by using your own ingenuity should be half the fun. The player will be able to give commands to a small team of crack SEALs, and if you want to approach quietly to attempt the mission with a deft touch, you may do so. If you want to go in, guns blazing, you can do that, too. And best of all, when the situation changes – and it might, from time to time – you'll be forced to improvise.
When you get up close and personal, you can even execute a variety of stealth attacks (ala Splinter Cell ), but much like those stealth-oriented titles, you'll have to be careful: these soldiers have brains, and they're going to investigate when things go a little awry. In order to deal with overly inquisitive enemies, however, you'll be able to set booby traps or explosives and then lure them to their doom. It's almost like Rainbow Six crossed with a bit of Metal Gear Solid , and that promises to be an intriguing mix, especially with the added dose of freedom.
The goal of the game is simply to return to friendly turf by fighting your way back across the frontline. And while this may sound a bit too straightforward an uninteresting on the surface, we must remind you that with the proposed open-endedness, there isn't likely to be a mission or level-based setup. You're going to have to survive by locating supplies and ammunition during your death-defying trek back to safety, and the developers say they're working on a "save-anywhere" design to better insinuate the player into a fully realized atmosphere. And before you even ask, yes, they're putting a great deal of effort into the multiplayer, too.
Want some really cool news? The entire campaign is open to four-player co-op, which means you can play straight-up hotseat if you're so inclined. Four heads are better than one, that's for sure, and you can sit back and plan out a strategy for each major encounter. The key to victory will lie in your ability to effectively analyze any given situation and implement your attack strategy with timing and brutal efficiency. This co-op play is going to be online as well, so no worries when it comes to overcrowded multiplayer screens. In addition, you know they're going to include some intense multiplayer combat, so they're covering all the bases when it comes to online functionality.
Rogue Warrior is already shaping up nicely, and if Zombie and Bethesda can deliver on all their promises, we should be in for a very tasty treat come 2007.