I don’t think you’ll ever see a WWII experience quite like Rogue Aces. Strap into the cockpit of a fighter plane during the most irreverent battles of a fictionalized WWII and get ready to blow a lot of stuff up.
Rogue Aces is a rogue-like side scrolling shooter where you play as either a male or female pilot strapped into fictionalized WWII era fighting machines. You’ll be given missions by a commander who may have “accidentally” started the war and it’s up to you to fight through waves of enemy fighters, hordes of ground troops and more to take out essential military targets as you attempt to win the war. The game will change every time you play, though many of the missions will be seen dozens of times before you’re done.
Essentially what you have at your disposal is a machine gun, that has unlimited ammunition, fire and forget rockets to take out aerial targets and bombs that you can drop on targets on the ground. The game is played from a 2D side-scrolling perspective. At the beginning of each of your runs you are given three planes or “lives” to complete your run through the war. Should you be shot out of the sky, crash into the sea or a cliff, or even purposefully eject from your plane you’ll lose a life, though there is a way to extend that life by hijacking enemy planes in the sky, though the maneuver is tough to pull off. If you manage to do it your life will continue and you can keep playing as if you hadn’t had a plane shot out from under you. It was not a skill, at the time of this review that I’ve been able to pull off intentionally, though I did manage it a few times as I was parachuting out of my plane.
The controls do take a little bit of getting used to. There are two main variations of controls available to you from the start, though you do have the ability to customize those options some on your own. A classic style will have you rotating the plane either clockwise or counter-clockwise by tilting the stick either left or right or up and down. This style works pretty well as long as you’re moving left or right and you’re not in a dog fighting situation where you need to maneuver quickly. I found it confusing once you were going the opposite way as the controls would then be reversed. You can also choose a style that lets you point the direction you want the plane to go. I found this control method to be very good, especially if I kept my analog stick always pointing in the direction I wanted to go. All of your weapon controls are handled then by different face buttons or the triggers. All of these controls are customizable if you don’t think the default versions work for your play style.
The missions themselves come in a few different varieties. You have standard dogfight style missions where the objective is to take out a number of enemy fighters. Other variations of this mission have you trying to take out enemy paratroopers before they can make their jump or take down enemy zeppelins that are on a bombing run. There are missions where you’re sent to destroy a particular ground target like a weapons cache or a POW camp. There are a few different mission types, but I found I was doing the same types of missions a large number of times in a short period of time.
What’s really fun is to turn on the game’s training mode and just go to town. They give you unlimited amounts of all of your ammo and you can just skim along the ground not worrying about getting killed and just blow everything up. It’s incredibly satisfying when you get to a place where an ammo dump is and there is a base around it and the entire screen is just filled with explosions. Sure it doesn’t really mean anything. You can’t do that AT ALL in the regular campaign mode, but that doesn’t mean it’s not fun to do.
The game certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously in any way. Your commanding officer is quick to jab at enemy forces with insults. The visual style is reminiscent of old school games like Metal Slug or Advance Wars. You can obtain upgrades in mid-flight that will allow you to increase your ammo reserves, turn faster or gain additional fuel. You’ll see enemies scrambling around on the ground yelling up at you as you fly over.
The game is fast paced, and difficult. If you manage to finish the game’s 100 mission campaign you’ll unlock harder difficulties that take away any visual aids or drop the number of planes you start with. I was not able at the time of the review to finish the main campaign and so have not tried any of the other difficulties or modes. The game is hard. It might have been nice to be able to take a friend along for the fight, unfortunately you’re limited to your one man army this time around.
It’s a really fun game to play around with, but I think there are some things that could have made it better. The quick pick up and play nature of the game means it’s very easy to get in play around for a bit and jump out. The arcade feel of the game means you’re going to have to finish the campaign in one sitting as there are no checkpoints and no save outside of a simple quick save that will let you pick up where you left off. It would have been nice to have had a system that would allow you to quick jump to different points in the campaign. You do get experience that allows you to start the game with more upgrades, but unless you get really good at handling your plane or hijacking enemy pilots you might find this one tough to complete.
Review copy of the game provided by Plan of Attack
Played through numerous runs of the campaign
Total Play Time: 8 hours