Seven years after the war against the aliens began, a strange and dangerous city has emerged and only a few have enough resistance to delve into its mysteries. We analyze Against Rogue Corps, which breaks many of the established formulas of the classic run and gun.
The first time you see Contra: Rogue Corps in action it is impossible not to be surprised. After all, the saga got its recognition for the good work in the run and gun genre of side-scrolling. However, Toylogic’s proposal takes the alien war to another perspective. One of zenith style where we control our protagonist with the two sticks of the control; one to move and the other to point in all directions. What is commonly known as the twin-stick shooter?
I suppose that it is of rigor to ask then if the essence of a saga is given by the name, the genre or what it offers. Not surprisingly, what we see in this new installment can fleetingly remind us of that Neo Contra that appeared on PlayStation 2 that also offered a radical change in the camera, offering a game style that more closely resembled the experience of the classic Mercs or a Shock Troopers that to the classic horizontal displacement of the saga. So perhaps the true essence of a Contra is more in that unbridled action of ending dozens of enemies and preventing them from touching us.
So two debates arise. Yes Against: Rogue Corps is a good game and if it is a good Contra. And I think that, although he tries with all his might, there is something in this project that has not finished working properly, either the development time or the expertise to capture the essence of his game mechanics. Everything in Rogue Corps looks poorly polished, starting with a visual staging that leaves much to be desired and ending with its game structure, with levels and enemies repeated to satiety and a structured progression system in the least intuitive way possible.
This progression also makes the four protagonists we have available very similar. The different weapons that we can use (machine guns, shotguns, grenade launchers, guns …) or buy are interchangeable between the four heroes, so that makes our choice aesthetic and, at most, vary some animations when making a final blow to some enemies or the way they throw the classic bombs that clean the screen and give us a break.
The levels, directly, are unimpressive. Even without the need to live up to a blockbuster, the poor quality of its textures or the different effects of fire, poison, etc., which give it a dirty and incomplete appearance is not understood. Not only is it a visual effect, but in some moments, it can even affect the game by not intuitively pointing our way or the key and destructible elements of the stage.
It could be a much better game by debugging the control system and the response to the controls.
Despite this visual stumbling block, which makes him lose some of that identity that he always made recognizably, there are certain moments in Rogue Corps that are well achieved. As we move through the different levels the game reaches that maximum that the twin-stick shooters seek shoot relentlessly trying to decimate enemies while delaying your position and looking for the safest space on the stage.
This dynamic always works, and the game accompanies it with weapons that can overheat if we have the finger stuck to the trigger. The conjunction of aiming, seeking distance with enemies and taking advantage of the environment becomes addictive. Even more so when we have to fight against final bosses that test our resistance and that in most cases they never come without the company of minions that will make sure you don’t feel comfortable.
Against: Rogue Corps, a stuck weapon
Unfortunately, the sparks of magic that can come off this Contra do not take long to dissipate. I think that the game does not finish being aware of how much it plays against the design and finishing of its menus and progression systems. A base to which we resort between mission and mission serves to improve weapons and even our characters, but their way of applying these improvements is so obtuse and not very intuitive that you end up applying anything that looks good in order to finish as soon as possible with the process and shoot again.
And this is where the fundamental problem lies because Rogue Corps could be a much better game than it is debugging the control system and the response to the controls that it currently has. What made this variant of the shooter great, from pioneers such as Commando and Alien Syndrome, heirs like Geometry Wars and present bets such as Helldivers, Ruiner or Nex Machina is that their controls were perfectly polished. Speed and precision are very important, while here the control seems to have a delay in command that influences the handling of our character. You can overcome all the challenges proposed by the game, but the feeling that the player receives in response to the controls is not the best at all. It becomes especially noticeable when the game pays homage to those moments in the saga in which the game became a “gallery shooter.” The camera goes down and we have to shoot with a sight. The imprecision of these moments causes us to lose more life than necessary.
I think it is difficult to get into Contra: Rogue Corps and it is a shame because there is a sweet moment in its development where the mechanics work and the experience is frantic. But this moment does not last too long since the game recycles levels by adding new and more numerous enemies until the final zone is unlocked. These levels are much longer and fierce and, as they progressively unlock, they will test that we have reached them properly prepared. Of course, there is a multiplayer mode, which allows us to support each other between four friends during the games and fight among us with a maximum of up to nine players, which can give the experience some variety.
Against: Rogue Corps leaves cold. It has salvageable elements that make you want to move on, but in general, the road is too uncomfortable to do it at ease. Its imprecision and repetition of levels make it a twin-stick shooter little refined and the progression system is too confusing and unattractive to achieve its intention. Basically, whether or not Rogue Corps has the essence of a Contra would be relevant if the final experience had been up to par, but although there are fun moments here, which had potential, they fail to sustain the experience.
Against: Rogue Corps is a twin-stick shooter with too many problems to achieve a more than satisfactory experience. It lacks a more polished and precise control, more varied levels that do not fall into repetition and a more comfortable and intuitive progression system. It has its moments when it achieves its goal, but they don’t last as long as we would like.
- Some frantic moments with many enemies or boss fights
- Imprecise control
- Unintelligent progression system
- Repeat many scenarios and enemies