We’re going back quite a few years, but one of my first memories of video games is a title called Harrier Attack. This was a proper old-school game in which you took control of a Harrier Jump Jet and blew things up. It was a simple premise but it was also a lot of fun. Looking back, it almost feels like the latest title from Infinite State Games, known as Rogue Aces, has taken this concept and brought it kicking and screaming into 2018.
Rogue Aces is a similar game in many ways. You take control of a fighter jet, taking off from an aircraft carrier and are set all manner of missions, which generally involves blowing the enemy up in one way or another. The difference here is that technology has allowed for a fast-paced and more pleasing to the eye title, while the developer has also thrown in some 360-degree dogfighting action for good measure.
It’s quite uncanny how similar these two games are, both have you attacking tanks, buildings, battleships and other jet fighters and both have you trying to avoid crashing into the terrain, which of course explodes your aircraft into a thousand pieces.
I love that Rogue Aces has taken this concept and brought it up to date because I loved Harrier Attack and now I love Rogue Aces too. Infinite State Games seem to have captured everything great about Harrier Attack and made it even better. The graphics are of course a vast improvement, while still holding onto the retro feel of old. The mission structure meanwhile is fantastic, thanks to the fact the whole game is procedurally generated, meaning no playthrough is ever the same. This means in one mission you’ll be tasked with bombing an enemy train or taking out an ammo dump, while in the next you’ll be shooting paratroopers out of the sky or dogfighting with a squadron of enemy jet fighters, looping in 360 degrees, fast-paced air battles as you do your very best to send the same enemy into the sea below.
Rogue Aces is certainly a challenging title, from the moment you take off you’ll need to adjust to the fast pace and crazy speed you’ll find yourself flying at, although once you are used to it, you’ll be looping an inch from the ground, dropping bombs on your targets and taking out enemy aircraft with your eyes closed (well perhaps not with your eyes closed, that really wouldn’t work).
As you progress and get better at taking out the enemies, the waves you’ll face up against will gradually increase in difficulty, although to counter this you’ll also gradually build up the power of your plane, increasing your fire rate, fuel, bomb and missile capacity, which is handy, as running out of missiles, bombs and fuel often means a trip back to base to restock. Speaking of heading back to base, you do have the option to land or autoland, so if you fancy risking losing a life (you have three), then you can go for the realistic option, although personally I soon gave up trying to land myself as it was often more lethal than facing the enemy.
Once you have mastered the game you’ll soon find yourself unlocking the various game modes. You’ll start with the normal campaign, before unlocking the Frontline campaign, the latter of which is basically a map based Time Attack mode where you rescue the island of your choice, completing objectives along the way. There’s also the Veteran Campaign and there are also four different arcade modes too, such as Survival, Rogue Ace, Bomber Defence and more. I’ve been playing for hours and still struggled to unlock them all. It’s fair to say there is plenty to keep you occupied here.
The presentation of Rogue Aces really speaks to the retro fan out there, offering a pixelated look which compliments the feel of the gameplay. I absolutely love when the game has you compete in early evening or night missions and all you can see is the silhouette of your aircraft in the fading light, it just looks wonderful. Complimenting the graphics is the fantastic music and voice acting, all of which immerses you so much that you can’t help get lost in the experience of it all. These graphics look especially fantastic on the PS Vita, while I can only imagine this game is also a perfect fit for Nintendo Switch.
Rogue Aces is a title which has that ‘just one more go’ feel. You’ll try and fail a lot, but then you’ll go back again and again until you eventually defeat the enemy at its own game and advance on their territory, unlocking new game modes along the way. Yes, it’s tough, but stick with it and you’ll be rewarded.
No-one ever said fighting in a war was easy, but thanks to Rogue Aces it’s bloody good fun.