Contra: Rogue Corps is the first new Contra title on the current gen of consoles. Developed by ToyLogic and releasing on all formats, it’s time to see if Contra can still hang with the big boys or should retire from war for good.
First thing I’ll get across and for some will be the decider on the game straight away, this isn’t a Contra game. Despite certain aspects being in the game, this could have easily been marketed as something completely different and no one would have battered an eyelid. I’ll be reviewing this title from the angle of it being a spin off or just standalone title, rather than comparing it to the legendary series it hails from, might be a duff way to review it but we will give it a chance.
Contra:Rogue Corps is set after Contra 3: Alien Wars, it doesn’t really matter though as it has no bearing on the story or setting of the game, just a way of justifying it being a Contra game I suppose. The story is told in graphic novel style cutscenes and follows the Rogue Corp doing runs into a dangerous city for loot and gains. It’s got a comically 90s vibe and is as paper thin as comic paper.
The Rogue Corp is made up of a Cyborg, a Women with an alien in her stomach (think Krang from TMNT) which is kept at bay by a Kitana, a Panda with a human brain and an Alien called the Gentleman. Outlandish OTT cast who like to swear and shout alot, not the most endearing but character development isn’t why we are here.
Graphically, Contra: Rogue Corps is a bit of a mess. Ugly character designs, the settings are rather weak and really doesn’t quite stand up to many games this generation or the last if I’m honest. It isn’t the worst I have played but it does suffer alot from a bland art design & poor textures, even the explosions and gore don’t pop like they should which is a shame.
Contra: Rogue Corps does away with the series standard 2D platforming and tries to bring the series into the 3D realm (which worked SO well in the past!). It’s the gameplay that really separates this from Contra.
The first questionable aspect I’ll mention is the multiplayer, you have online PvP modes & the Exploration Mode. The campaign isn’t multiplayer which is a massive crime considering at the very least this is a twin stick shooter!. It also takes easily an hour or so to unlock the co op multiplayer too.
The Exploration mode is the co op mode and it’s set out like a traditional twin stick shooter, randomly generated areas and enemies. It’s good, especially with the couch multiplayer but feels more along the lines of Smash T.V than the series this game is supposed to be representing.
I haven’t actually managed to try the PvP modes due to lack of players online, could be a console problem or lack of interest in the game, it’s a shame as they look interesting and it’s always a nice bonus!.
The campaign missions range from ho hum standard to “ok that was pretty awesome” with very little middle ground. The boss fights are as you would expect, huge and deadly and represent some of the games highest points.
Because they tried to make the game Contra like they added a few little nods to the series. Occasional musical jingles, shooting gallery mode and icons appear throughout, oh and Gates, they really wanted to make sure you knew it was Contra by adding lots of gates.
To add a little flavour to the game there are RPG lite elements, you can level up guns & customize them and your character through surgery. Your loot comes in the form of mods and body parts, when you want to install the body part you can choose from 3 surgeons to perform the operation which can add extra benefits.
Now the major hiccup with the game could be due to the shift in genre, balancing issue or just a questionable choice but it’s worth mentioning. Your weapons all have cool downs, this means you have to keep swapping between them, ALOT. The sub weapon system can also happily sail you up the creak without a paddle if your weapon doesn’t have the range you need!.
There is a fair bit of content with the loot, campaign, exploration mode and the PvP (I assume) and as such should last you quite a while should this be your cup of tea. Also so far no Microtransactions & talk of free DLC including the heroes from Contra 1 on the horizon!.
It’s very difficult to differentiate this game from its title, it really doesn’t look, feel and more than often sound like Contra, the elements that are there seem awkwardly forced in, rather than pushing the series back into the light it feels more like it’s wearing a cheap costume, especially when other titles have been released recently which are more Contra without the title!.
As a standalone game, I do enjoy Contra: Rogue Corps, it’s a perfectly serviceable twin stick shooter with an extreme 90s attitude, it handles well even if performance isn’t great and the couch co op when unlocked is fantastic. It feels like one of those middle of the street PS2 curiosity games, a budget title so to speak.
I’m not sure what the target audience with this game is, if you want a pure Contra experience you’d be better off getting the Anniversary Collection, if you want something a little different, like a twin stick shooter and the game isn’t doing too much damage to your retinas then I’d suggest giving this game a try, it’s fun but it’s not Contra.