Rogue Warrior

Korea advice.

If your husband, brother or son hasn't written many letters home since joining the North Korean army, Dick Marcinko may know something about it. Craggy of face, piercing of stare, and pony-tailed of haircut, this one-man militia is the last thing thousands of enemy soldiers see before they head for that big old barracks in the sky.

Having caused the VC so much trouble in 'Nam that they put a bounty on his head, tested Presidential security by breaking into Air Force One (mid-flight, hopefully), and helped the Cambodians take on the Khmer Rouge, and having been involved in various classified outings that presumably included keeping the watery depths of the Marianas Trench safe for democracy, and developing the fortunes-reviving "I'm Lovin' It" slogan for righteous, commie-hating fast food masters McDonalds plc, Marcinko's been places you've never heard of, met people you didn't even know existed, and stared deep into their eyes, quietly weighing up whether or not they deserve to live for another heartbeat.

The only reason he can't be here with us now is because he's been shuttled deep into outer space for the afternoon. To fight Moon Nazis.

The team at Rebellion Games is, to put it lightly, a fan of Marcinko's work, particularly his Rogue Warrior series of books, which explained how he set up two US Navy counter-terrorist units. Sean Griffiths, the senior producer for a new game on the subject, and a man so used to dealing with shadowy intelligence agents that one eyebrow is now permanently arched, can fill a good ten minutes of the title's presentation simply reeling off various reasons why we would never want to encounter this particular ex-Navy SEAL on our way to a Socialist Worker's meeting with a copy of Mao's Little Red Book tucked under one arm and the second verse of "The Internationale" playing on our lips.

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Marcinko says things like "Showtime!" before stabbing someone through the brain, a phrase most people reserve for cueing up a LoveFilm rental for the evening.

Throughout this narrative, the portrait that emerges is of a simple, honourable, and double-dangerous individual, with powers of death at his disposal which border on the supernatural. Griffiths only just stops short of telling us the man can freeze somebody's blood and make their spleen explode just by coughing. Perhaps he misplaced the PowerPoint slide for that one.

Working closely with Marcinko, Rebellion is creating a title worthy of the man's career. In other words, it's not a cuddly virtual pet sim staged in a rainbow-coloured children's ward in the clouds. It's a game in which you single-handedly take on the might of North Korea and Russia, dealing out swift, pony-tailed death, and blowing an awful lot of military installations into the next world - where they belong. Voice acting is, inevitably, provided by Mickey Rourke.

Rogue Warrior is shaping up to belong to that lovable genre known as guilty pleasures. Part stealth, part definitely-anything-but-stealth, the narrative drops you into a series of military encounters around the North Korean border, all of which see you out-manned and out-gunned, and all the happier for it.

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"Rest in peace, as*hole," announces Marcinko after lobbing someone into a canyon.

The presence of Rourke is the first thing you notice, probably because he never shuts up. For a man whose life often depends on sneaking around, Marcinko rarely misses an opportunity to ruminate on the matter at hand, often leaning heavily on the swears as he doles out pithy insights into the ineptitude of his enemy, and his own fondness for finishing them off. Despite a surprising chattiness, Rourke's performance looks to be a genuine treat, and gets you so firmly behind Rebellion's agenda that you've warmed to the game before you've even nutted your first North Korean and pushed them over a railing into some whirling machinery.

Not that it's long before that happens, of course. The mission we're shown is plucked from about halfway through the game, with "Demo Dick" - other nicknames include "Shark Man of the Delta", not the kind of title you pick up by hanging around on Brighton seafront selling ice cream all day - perched on a ledge overlooking the Russian border. He's come here on the trail of some nukes the Koreans are selling the Soviets, and his objective is wondrously straightforward: check out the cargo, blow it to pieces, and then kick back with a bottle of Jack and a copy of the latest Guns 'N' Ammo.

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