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Rogue Aces – Review (PS4, PS Vita, Switch)

There are plenty of themes and genres that are sorely lacking in video games today. Some of them include spaceship shooters, mech-themed games, and WWII aerial combat games. On the PlayStation 2 and PlayStation 3, there were a plethora of aerial combat fighting games that put players right into the thick of World War II’s most dangerous air-battles. Games like Secret Weapons Over Normandy, IL-2 Sturmovik: Birds of Prey, and Heroes Over Europe were just some of the games I came across. 

Each game had something different to the themes of WWII aerial combat, from arcade controls and special one-hit-kill moves to realistic physic and flight dynamics. There should be more of these types of games present on today’s platformers, but the only other game to come out with this theme in recent years was Flying Tigers: Shadows over China from ACE MADDOX. That is, until just a few weeks ago, when UK Developer Infinite States and Curve Digital released Rogue Aces for the PlayStation 4 and PS Vita. After some time with Rogues Aces, it has proven once again that at times, the smallest of games can pack the biggest of punches.

Rogue Aces is a simple, fun arcade flight game. There aren’t any over-arching stories or narratives. Rogue Aces is a pure action experience designed to get you straight into the action. Players will be tasked with destroying hundreds upon hundreds of enemies, both on the ground and in the air.  This will also include tanks, battleships, airships, and the dreaded enemy ace himself, The Baron. Players will begin in the Arcade Mode, then over time, unlock new game modes such as Frontline Mode and Bomber Defense mode. After a brief tutorial that shows you the controls, all that is left is to take off and bring the fight to the enemy.

The flight combat experience is comparable to Luftrausers from indie-developer Vlambeer. Both games feature aerial combat from a 2D side-scrolling perspective. The left analog stick allows players to ascend or descend, while the right analog stick is for speed. In Rogue Aces, players will have more options and tactical capabilities for their experience. Players can equip a finite number of bombs and rockets. These are essential for destroying enemy structures and capturing bases. Players will also have their primary machine gun, which can easily perforate the armor of enemy tanks and warplanes. If players need to get someplace in a hurry, they can hold down the left trigger button for war speed, the ultimate objective is to shoot absolutely everything on-screen, give no quarter, and survive.

Rogue Aces delivers a rock-and-roll action experience head-on to its players. From the moment you take off, you are under fire, from swarming plane squadrons to tanks and Anti-aircraft guns. A rock and roll soundtrack roars through the speakers, underscoring the tenacity and chaos of air-to-air and air-ground battle. Of course, when fired upon, you return it, and in Rogue Aces, you return huge amounts of return fire. Explosions erupt across the board, dozens of tanks are turned into hulks of fire, and enemy planes do their damndest to destroy you. 

Dropping bombs and firing rockets on enemy installations is thrilling while skirting the ground just feet away from crashing provides a cinematic-level of excitement. The enemy is tenacious and will stop at nothing to shoot you down. Players can expect to be constantly swarmed by enemies constantly strafing from above. The entire experience is backed by extremely responsive and tight controls, which make the game extremely accessible to all players, especially casual and hardcore gamers.

Among these enemies is the baron. The baron flies a black plane, wielding outrageous weapons, including lasers and flamethrowers. Using overdrive speed, The Baron stops at nothing to put you down. If he is not dealt with right away, you level will be over in a matter of moments.  Furthering the danger is the fact that players will lose certain abilities depending on the damage they take. Rogue Aces keeps track of where you receive damage. Fortunately, players have a few advantages.

At any given time, players can manually or automatically land on the aircraft carrier. This will repair their craft and rearm their ordnance. It’s worth noting though, that, should you choose to land automatically, your score will be deducted. Additionally, if players destroy the structure at an enemy airbase, they may land and capture that base, providing ground and air support in the form of friendly tanks and bombers. Finally, for players playing Arcade Mode, they can eject out of their plane and drop an endless number of grenades. If they reach the ground safely, they will automatically take to another plane and fly again.

Rogue Aces provides perfect pick-up and play gameplay, with a multitude of modes. Arcade mode provides a traditional arcade experience, giving players three lives to complete as many objectives as possible. Survival takes players to survive and endless horde and frontline mode will have players strategically attack specific islands to make it to the enemy base, with the Baron hunting you down throughout your mission. Players will unlock additional modes the more they play.

If there is any significant drawback to the experience, it is that Rogue Aces can be over fairly quickly. Despite the multitude of modes to embark on,  However, I can definitely see this expanded to see more campaigns, more enemies, and more boss fights. SHould there be a sequel, I would love to see the team take on The Cold War, jungle warfare, and modern jets. Using ballistic missiles and supersonic fighter jets would be quite a neat experience. I could even imagine a space warfare game in a similar vein as well.

Rogue Aces is a remarkably good time, from its ability to immediately get players into the action to the actual action itself, Rogue Aces is worth your time, as the game will use that time to give you a great flight combat experience. Hop into the cockpit, take to the skies, and prepare to go rogue!

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