It's not easy being green.
Life in the 21st century sure ain't easy. The price of energy has skyrocketed, schools are no longer safe, and the President of the United States bears a startling resemblance to a chimpanzee. Each day when I drive home from work, I notice the poor folks who have fallen on hard times. These unfortunate individuals are often forced to do degrading things in order to survive this harsh, unforgiving world. Most resort to begging, some steal, and the rest make Army Men games.
Army Men: Green Rogue marks the next chapter in the ongoing nightmare that is the Army Men saga. The Tans have gained the upper hand in the war and the situation for the Greens is looking grim. In an effort to create a super soldier, DNA has been sucked from the Green's finest warriors and melted into a single body known as Omega. In an "original" turn of events, Omega ends up lost in Tan territory and must fight his way through hordes of enemy soldiers single-handedly. Bet you didn't see that one coming.
The result of Omega's adventures in Tan land is a "High-Tech Arcade Shooter" for the Playstation 2. High tech for the early 1980s, that is. In actuality, Green Rogue is a low-tech vertical scrolling shooter that might have been cool if it had only been released about two decades ago.
The problems start off early, as a horrific control scheme renders the game nearly impossible to play. You use one analog stick for movement and another to aim. While this scheme may have worked for other cool games like Virtual On, Robotron and Cloak & Dagger, it wreaks complete havoc in Green Rogue. In short, aiming your weapon is like beating Sal Magicpants: it just can't be done without dying a lot.
This leads to an interesting assortment of weapons that fall into one of two classes: totally inaccurate at close range and completely inaccurate at long range. Using a rifle, grenade launcher, or bazooka basically guarantees that you won't be able to hit the guy standing right in front of you. On the other hand, using a flamethrower often renders you unable to kill any of the plastic men more than a few steps away. This might not have been so bad had you been able to carry several weapons at once, but players are forced to make due with a single implement of war at a time. Looks like you'll just have to pick your poison.
As you are forcefully pushed through 16 levels of excruciatingly painful gameplay (no, you can't stop), you'll encounter brainless hordes of Tan soldiers who can only kill with mass fire tactics. They don't really do much outside of standing and shooting, but I suppose the developers decided that the pathetic targeting scheme made the game difficult enough.
The game's graphics are ultra-plain, leaving me to wonder if a PSX game somehow snuck into a PS2 box. It's almost as if someone thought that "3D" automatically makes graphics look "amazing."
On top of theese problems, plenty of other stupid mistakes come up. On one occasion, I completed a level and was asked if I wanted to continue without saving. Not wanting to waste any precious memory on this game, I answered "yes." Wrong answer. I was not allowed to do any such thing. So when I finally gave in and answered "no," it let me go on. And now my memory card is tainted.
There are even errors within the Army Men world. Just in case you didn't know, the motto for the Army Men games is "Real Combat. Plastic Men." The story goes that Omega was created from the DNA of Sarge and his heroes. The last time I checked, there was no DNA in plastic, so can someone please tell me how you extract DNA from plastic men?
Furthermore, Omega has the ability to execute a "Bio-Strike" that eliminates all enemies around him. How can a biological weapon kill plastic men? It's like giving the ebola virus to your left shoe. If you're going to create a fantasy world, at least make it consistent.
It's hard to believe, but there are actually some genuinely good things going on here. One is the CG. The cut-scene plastic men have never looked better, but this is definitely the kind of thing that's fast becoming the norm for the PS2.
The best thing about Green Rogue, however, isn't even in the game. It's the packaging! The box for Green Rogue contains a place to stash you memory card! I've seen this before in Japanese PS2 games and have no idea why more companies aren't doing this over in the States. The box guy gets the genius award for this project.
Army Men: Green Rogue is a take on the old school vertical-scrolling shooters gone horribly wrong. Its simplicity is shattered by terrible control and the fun factor diminishes at the speed of light. Someone needs to recycle this plastic and make something more useful, like a toilet paper holder.