Rebellion Games is 26 Years Old Today!
Rebellion games, the leading UK games studio has reached the grand old age of 26 today, an impressive feat within the games industry. This studio has brought gamers impressive and immersive title such as Sniper Elite, Rogue Trooper, Aliens vs Predator and my favourite Dredd vs Death, The titles which they produce have high levels of authenticity and the skilful developers always find innovate approaches on how to bring the player right into the action.
Rebellion is based in Oxford and began crafting game titles in 1992, founded by Jason Kingsley and his brother Chris, they brought a unique approach to game development. Both the founders were steeped in the love of gaming from an early age, their first computer was a Commodore PET. This brought not only a love of playing games into their home but also began to foster a talent for development. The Kingsleys progressed from typing in code from magazines to helping develop titles such as ‘The Hunt for Red October’ for Oxford Digital Enterprises and Blade Warrior for Robert Maxwell’s Mirrorsoft.
After this, the brothers established Rebellion and entered into the gaming industry with a title called Eye of the Storm. This was an ambitious space exploration game featuring several detailed missions which challenged the player and brought a sense of wonder at the scope of the environment
Aliens Vs Predator
Atari approached Rebellion with a commission to make two games for their new Jaguar console, the first was Checkered Flag, the second turned out to be the big break for the company. It was of course Alien vs Predator. Facing the challenges of developing for a brand new console, Rebellion adapted remarkably and began to use 16 bit graphics in an era where no other company was using them. Alien vs Predator became the killer game for the Jaguar system and it can be said that this particular game is responsible for selling most of the Jaguar units and is still discussed with affection today.
This impressive licensed game was perfected when the team returned to it in 1999 for a PC release of the title. It brought a depth to the movie franchise that had never been experienced before in an Alien or Predator game. Featuring three campaigns, each focusing on the story of either the Alien, the Predator or a hapless Marine caught up in the middle of this titanic battle. One of the stand out moments of the game was being able to crawl up walls as the Alien, cling to them and stalk your human prey. I spent hours speeding around the cavernous levels and chasing down the humans who stood in my way. The Alien was the one race out of the three that didn’t have ranged weapons, it did however have speed and manoeuvrability. This race was the most unique and a personal favourite of mine during the multiplayer battles which caused many a sleepless school night.
The studio crafted it’s own game engine to help with the experience, it’s seen many iterations over the years but the Asura engine is still one which Rebellion work with today. Asura enabled the game landscape to be rotated, creating a truly fluid experience as the player crawled along walls and ceilings. The Alien had a wider field of view and this was portrayed perfectly in the game.
Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper
In 2000 Rebellion acquired the ‘Galaxies Greatest Comic’ – 2000AD and began work on developing two games based on the popular franchises of Judge Dredd and Rogue Trooper. Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death was a phenomenal title which brought an incredible attention to detail with regard to the narrative and the game environments. Nods to classic characters such as Otto Sump were on display in the billboards and the ability for Dredd to arrest perpetrators brought a sense of authenticity to the character. The story focused on the release of the Dark Judges and saw the player interact with famous members of the Justice Department in order to attempt to eliminate their evil. This was an action packed title which featured a fun multiplayer element which tipped the hat to even more iconic characters in Dredd’s universe, the ability to play as Walter the robot was a neat touch.
In 2006 Rebellion released Rogue Trooper, featuring a narrative which wove together the key elements of the original stories. This was a perfect jumping off point for those new to the series and a wonderful retelling of the origin story for established fans. Featuring a cover system mechanic years before Gears of War popularised it, this title brought plenty of bang for your buck and recently received a graphical makeover in 2017’s Redux edition. Again Rebellion showcased their ability to transport the gamer into the world of the character and Rogue Trooper brought the excitement of the war torn comic strip straight to your screen and fingertips.
This series became an instant cult hit since the original titles release in 2005, a strategic third person shooter this projected gamers into the past to take on the mantle of a WW2 sniper. Unlike most other shooting games, this discouraged the run and gun tactics most players would have been familiar with. Players had to scout the area and tag enemies and objectives with their binoculars and find the best higher ground to stage their attack. The now trademark Bullet Cam allowed players to see the internal damage that each of their carefully aimed shots had done. Giving the player an X-Ray, slow motion replay of the fatal shots, it was an incredibly satisfying experience and a grisly pay off which keeps gamers coming back for more. Sniper Elite remains popular today and it’s current fourth incarnation brought critical acclaim for it’s stylish execution and engaging gameplay mechanics.
Rebellion released The Strange Brigade in 2018 and this has become my favourite title of the year. With it’s engaging co-op action, this adventure game brings a unique sense of British pulp fiction to the narrative. It’s a Boys Own adventure novel mixed with Sci-Fi and horror elements, an Indiana Jones style narrative featuring high octane action and stunning environments. It featured fun characters and engaging gunplay and brought a sense of fun with it’s overgrown environments and exploration of crypts. It might just be the best Rebellion title to date.
It’s safe to say that I am a huge fan of this game studio and I wish them many happy returns and thank them for the years of fun that they have given me. Happy 26th anniversary guys!