Rogue Aces is an air combat shooter which has you liberating islands from the evil forces of The Baron.
Release Date: April 12th 2018
Size: 207.56 MB
Genre: Arcade Shooter
Developed by Infinite State Games
Published by Curve Digital Limited
Reviewed on PS4; Also available on PSVita and Switch.
What ho old bean. Let me fill you in to our current situation. We are at war with the dreaded Baron and his evil army. We need our crack air force to swoop in, take out their armaments, battleships and fortifications and liberate these lands once more. There’s only one tiny, little problem… all that remains of our air force is three planes and one pilot, you! So keep your upper lip stiff and tally ho, onward to glory and win us the war!
This is a prime example of a pick up and play title. While there is a handy training mode to teach you the basics of flight and the rules of the game, the controls are straight forward and seem easy to master. You fly and you shoot, done. Though while that it is true to a point, once you start playing the game properly you realise there is a surprising amount of depth to controlling your plane and navigating around the level. To be honest, just landing your aircraft without the autopilot helping feels very rewarding.
Being an arcade shooter it’s all too easy fall in to the trope of pushing the throttle all the way up and zipping around the screen, shooting anything that moves. But, when it comes to dogfights and diving for low level bombing runs against ground targets, you’ll soon realise you can’t turn worth a damn at that speed so it’s all about finding the balance. Outside of the basics there are so many other things that you are capable of that the game doesn’t tell you and it’s great to discover these abilities by yourself.
The basic line here is you take off from your aircraft carrier, complete the given mission (blowing something up) over the procedurally generated levels, then return back to base for further instructions. While you have unlimited machine gun bullets, you’ll frequently need to come back and replenish your more heavy hitting ammunition like missiles and bombs. Also fuel is another thing you need to keep your eye one as while you can fly a fair old distance on a single tank, its making sure you’ve enough to get you home again otherwise all your progress would be for nothing.
One final thing to remember is that while you do have 3 planes, which are in essence 3 tries at a level, you only get one “you” and permadeath is in effect. So if you die because you didn’t parachute out of your crashing spitfire in time, or you did but then landed in enemy territory and got captured, that’s it, you’re done, game over, please try again.
This game truly shines in the content stakes. There are numerous modes in the game and most are hidden away, only unlocked by the completion of certain tasks through normal campaign. While I won’t tell you how to get them or what they each entail (as that’s all part of the fun) I will tell you what they are called;
Campaign Modes: You start with Normal and then unlock Frontline and then Veteran.
Frontline Campaign is a time attack mode where you start at the bottom left corner of a screen of islands. You pick one near you, clear its missions then move on to the next island, working your way across the screen up to the top right corner, all as the clock continues to countdown. As for taking on Veteran, its the same as the normal campaign but all the assists taken off and the enemy difficulty turned up to eleven. It is only for the toughest of Tom Cruise level Top Guns.
Arcade Modes: Survival – This is all about plane to plane combat and racking up your score multiplier. Why is that so hard? Because while you can repair your plane, your multiplier resets to zero when you land. It’s all about risk and reward. Hmm how do you get around that?
There’s also Bomber Defence, the hilarious Hot Potato and Rogue Ace. Each has a different fun take on the core gameplay and is worthy of your time.
Rogue Aces has a charming and surprising detailed 2D art style and runs very smoothly indeed. This is even the case when you’re filling most the screen with dogfights and explosions. Its bright, bold colour palette is also perfect for a game with so much going on keeping things obvious and clear. Don’t be fooled though as there are some genuinely nice touches such as the layered clouds and the top of the play area, the stormy weather and lightning when The Baron is on the scene or the way games day/night cycle is portrayed. The overall design reminds me a bit of the old Metal Slug series, as while the enemy vehicles and buildings may be small, they all look “solid” and when things go boom, they really go BOOM!
The effects are suitable for this type of game with everything sounding as you’d expect. The roar of the engines and rattle of the machine gun fire is presently nice and clearly and the explosions have sufficient wallop behind them so that when you hit a fuel depot and the screen lights up the wave of sounds adds impact to the visuals. What’s more important in a fly, die, repeat game like this is the music as you are going to be hearing it over and over. Luckily the tunes presented here are subtle soft rock and enjoyable enough to nod along to while not being so brash that it starts to distract and grate as you hear it for the twelve hundredth time.
Rogue Aces is a cracking little game that’s great fun and has plenty to do. Its graphics and sound design are decent but it’s the addictive gameplay hook that will keep pulling you back for “just one more go”. It’s perfect for portable gaming, so its presence on both the Vita and the Switch is very smart thinking by the developers. So while it’s still fun on the big screen at home, its short play design loop makes it an ideal purchase for the commuting gamer on the go. Plus it’s less than a tenner so what are you waiting for?
- Great gameplay loop for portable systems
- Unlock new modes by playing not buying
- Nicking an enemy plane in mid air
- Permadeath when you've two planes left
- The 100 missions during the campaign can be a little repetitive