Published on April 12th, 2018 | by Lee Davies
Review: Rogue Aces (Switch eShop)
Format reviewed: Switch eShop
Other formats available: PS4 and PS Vita
Developer: Infinite State Games
Publisher: Curve Digital
Website: Official Website
Rogue Aces is a 2D air combat dogfight roguelite.
3 planes left in your whole squadron, and you’re the only pilot.
Just pop out and win a war for us would you, old chap?
In Rogue Aces, you’ll battle for air, sea and ground supremacy while gradually upgrading your precious aircraft’s stats.
Rogue Aces is about hot acrobatic dogfights, heroic mid-air plane-jacking, sweet fully destructible buildings and different-every-game procedural landscape and mission generation shizzle.
Just don’t leave it too late to deploy that parachute, what what?
The dialogue in Rogue Aces is the first thing that stands out as awesome. Saying that it’s tongue-in-cheek doesn’t do the game justice. It is firmly rooted in parody of old war movies, with plenty of ‘What’s up old chap?’, and a healthy fixation on tea and crumpets. Let’s just hope that the rest of the game can live up to the lively chit-chat between Commander and pilot.
In fact, the whole game has a tongue-in cheek, stiff upper lip, upper class, English Commander dishing out the orders, and crumpets, and then you flying off to fulfill the quota of enemy destruction required to progress to the next mission, and cup of tea.
Rogue Aces‘ action takes place along a horizontally scrolling 2D plane, with a great deal of verticality added to that giving even the worst pilot plenty of room to manoeuvre between the ever changing skies and the sheer death of a ground collision. Take control of one of your planes, fly, bomb, missile, and shoot your way to victory. Every time a new Campaign is started the rogue-like elements of a randomly generated landscape and different missions, chosen from over a 100, are thrown at you. From bombing an enemy train, shooting planes, stopping bombers, or paratroopers, taking over a base, etc., with all objectives clearly seen via a handy on-screen indicator that always points you in the right direction. Watch the fuel meter to make sure you can get back to refuel, restock up on your favourite bombs and missiles, and grabbing a handy health replenishment at the same time. Whilst playing through a single Campaign your plane will slowly be able to collect power-ups in the form of air-drops from fallen enemy fighters. Things like cannon firerate, cannon power, maximum number of bombs and missiles, turning circle, acceleration, and armour can all be upgraded and retained as long as you survive. Bite the bullet and it’s back to square one. However, the more missions you complete the more your EXP bar increases. Gain a number of levels, and you’ll have access to a few power-ups at the start of every mission. An easy game to start and difficult to master.
The Left Analogue Stick gives you precise control over the movement of your plane. The vehicle does auto-level and swings around in a functional turning circle, but it’s after just a few upgrades that the plane handles like you want it too, and you’ll be showing those enemy fighters who’s the boss of the skies. The Right Analogue Stick is used for the throttle. Apart from taking off to accelerate, you’ll hardly use this anywhere else, on the easier missions it’s possible to press the B button to auto land when in range of your base, and when landing without the auto-on being so difficult you’re unlikely to try. ZL gives you a handy speed boost, that unfortunately eats fuel. ZR fires your main cannon. A is for when you’re in serious trouble and your only option is to eject. A quick double press sees your pilot ejecting into the skies to slowly fall back to the earth with a parachute, the ability to throw a few grenades at the enemies on the way down is always a nice addition, but depending on the mode chosen, the ejection is either an instant death upon landing or a chance to use another plane in your arsenal. X fires rockets (starting a game nabs you only 2) and with Y it’s bombs away (4 at the beginning).
There are plenty of modes to keep you going that are slowly unlocked over time. The main stay is in the Campaign, and there are three on offer. The Normal Campaign does everything stated up until now, 100 randomly generated missions over a procedurally generated series of islands. The Veteran Campaign acts in the same way as the Normal Campaign but with all the training aids taken off, no auto landing or direction assists here. The Frontline Campaign is one of my favourites with a map of islands, based on a Time Attack campaign mode where you take on a number of objectives upon one island at a time, and an evil Baron who’s gunning for you. Then, there are another 3 Arcade Modes to delight your pick up and play sensibilities. A Score Attack Mode called Rogue Ace: Ultimate arcade madness; a Survival Mode for all the dogfighters out there looking for plane to plane combat; and, Bomber Defence, which turns the tables on you blowing things up, to instead protect your bomber from destruction until its mission is completed.
Rogue Aces looks great revelling in a hand drawn cartoon style that highlights the difference between every object and the backgrounds. It’s colourful and bright, which complements the great music and effects that complete the package. Power-rock ballads will stick in your ear long after putting the game down. The Main Menu ‘Rogue Aces’ Theme is a veritable blast. The sound effects do exactly what you’d expect, but turned up to a cheesy eleven. Great explosions, rumbling engines, and voice acting. All this sound goes extremely well with the intensity adjustable HD Rumble that gives nuance to shots fired and taken, and that juddering feeling of a smoking plane on its last legs. Even when the action gets very hot the Switch handles it with aplomb, no slowdown, and all running smoothly regardless of the sheer amount of explosions, and on-screen enemies happening at one time.
That’s not to say everything was plain sailing. On quite a few occasions a very strange bug would occur where upon take-off the trajectory, and the control inputs, locked. The plane would just soar into the sky at a 30 degree angle and no amount of analogue stick wiggling or button pressing rectified this, and I was forced to quit out to the Main Menu and restart that mission again. Fortunately, Rogue Aces has a great save system in place. After every little successful mission, and you’ll be doing plenty, the game autosaves upon landing back at one of your bases. Any game bug or glitch, like aforementioned, can be easy and quickly rectified, and then it’s back into the action starting from where you left off. This is not true of some of the lengthier Campaign Modes where restarting can put you back 20 minutes of progress. And this happened too often to overlook. Another let-down is that PlayStation 4 and PS Vita owners will be able to have cross buy and cross play alongside online leaderboards. There are no online leaderboards present in the Switch version. It’s always nice to compare scores, especially with friends, but alas not on the Switch.
Rogue Aces is fun. The controls are spot on, and only get better with a few upgrades, and deaths are always due to your own errors, not anything the game unfairly throws at you, minus the few take-off glitches. It has a great pick and up play sensibility, made even easier due to the speed of which saving and restarting missions is handled. Then, the only downside is that it’s a single player only experience. Once you’ve levelled up considerably, Rogue Aces may overstay its welcome. At first glance the 100 different missions may complement a varied gaming experience, but all missions rotate around the same central theme of flying to a location and obliterating it.
Rogue Aces (Switch eShop)
Summary: Great fun, won't be the longest lasting game ever, but hugely entertaining while it does last. Slight repetition and a few annoying bugs will sour the otherwise great experience. Now off you go petal, win me a war!