Rogue Aces (PlayStation 4) Review

By Renan Fontes 19.05.2018

Review for Rogue Aces on PlayStation 4

As far as plane-based videogames go, there are only really two main genres they tend to get lumped into: flight simulators or acade-esque action titles. Given that Rogue Aces plays on a 2D plane and lacks the graphical fidelity typically utilised for a flight sim, it should go without saying that it categorises itself in the latter of the two genres. Simple to pick up, difficult to master, and with controls very much suited for the arcade, Rogue Aces does a great job of reviving that old school flair, while implementing an identity of its own.

It doesn't take long at all for Rogue Aces to embrace its arcade influence. The moment the plane takes off in the tutorial, it's clear that this is a game intent on paying tribute to its roots. The controls are as simple as would be expected from the genre. Moving up curves the plane upwards, moving down curves the plane downwards, and firing off bullets is done with a hold-press instead of needing to rapidly press to shoot. It's a tried and true control scheme that works.

That said, it also doesn't take long for Rogue Aces to show off how it expands on a proven formula by adding its own spin. While the controls are simple, they are deceptively so. The enemy design doesn't so much encourage skilled play as it absolutely forces it. It's easy to zip around the screen and curve past enemies; it's another thing altogether to complete objectives reliably while taking down enemy planes.

Screenshot for Rogue Aces on PlayStation 4

There's more to movement here than just curving the plane at the right time and holding down the action button to fire a rain of bullets. Chasing after an enemy is sometimes required as it's easy to get tailed; other times, it's necessary to just hit the gas and boost away from foes. It's also important to time flights carefully as the plane actually has an engine. Thankfully, there are landing strips available for purchase with points throughout the campaign to serve as bases to refuel and relax.

There is still an element of strategy at play with the landing strips, however. Landing with enemies still in the air is basically a death-wish as they won't stop to honour any breaks. It's important to be mindful of what's flying around before basking in a moment of respite. This is an arcade-esque title, so a bit of non-stop action is to be expected, but there is a level of patience, or rather strategic thinking, required to succeed. There is absolutely nothing to be gained from rushing, especially since the core gameplay is fast on its own. Slowing down to tackle each mission methodically is important as there's absolutely no reward for carelessness.

Screenshot for Rogue Aces on PlayStation 4

The gameplay truly shines in combat. While flying around will typically aggravate some enemies, meaning they need to be shot down or avoided, finding a host of enemy planes and ploughing through them is a treat unlike any other. There's a genuine thrill about coming face-to-face with a fleet and outmanoeuvring them with some slick curved dodging, or simply by firing away at them like a proper hunter. Dogfighting is downright addictive, especially when taking into account the level-up system. Every time there's a game over, experience is awarded depending on which mission was failed. Experience is then used to upgrade the plane for the next playthrough, giving a dynamic sense of progression to the gameplay.

The campaign itself isn't bad, but it isn't as good as it could have been thanks to its procedural generation. It works, in a sense, since it's true to the arcade experience, while keeping playthroughs fresh in accordance to the relatively high difficulty, but the mission variety isn't exactly compelling. That said, the gameplay loop is nonetheless strong enough to make up for those problems, but it might leave a sour taste for anyone expecting more traditional level design.

Screenshot for Rogue Aces on PlayStation 4

Rogue Aces' visuals and sound design deserve a special mention due to just how well done they are. There is not a single busy moment on-screen, which is saying a lot considering just how much can happen at one given time. It's easy to tell what is an enemy, where the plane can land, and what the objectives are, all while flying by at incredible speeds. This is in large part thanks to the vibrant colour scheme. The usage of bright colours allows each sprite to stand out all the more. As for the music, the heavy rock n' roll soundtrack adds a layer of adrenaline to the action. Hearing the soundtrack kick in when in the face of enemy planes is an inspired sound design choice that feels like a shot of intensity in all the best ways.

More than anything, Rogue Aces is rewarding. Sitting down to master the controls leads to hours of engaging action where genuine skill is given the importance it deserves. Along with a very rewarding level-up system and a host of unlockables to play around with, there's little not to like about this homage to the arcades.

Screenshot for Rogue Aces on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Arcadey, exciting, and responsive, Rogue Aces is an incredibly smooth take on dogfighting, with plenty of charm to spare. While the procedurally-generated campaign does leave much to be desired in the way of level and mission design, the core gameplay loop is solid and the missions themselves emphasise the action more than anything else, keeping consecutive playthroughs engaging. Controlling the plane is easy to pick up and hard to master, but it all pays off due to just how satisfying the gameplay is. Rogue Aces is a by-the-books arcade experience that offers a fresh take on dogfighting.

Developer

Infinite State Games

Publisher

Curve Digital

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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