Rogue Aces is a side scrolling arcade aerial combat dogfighting game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. Infinite State Games have previously developed Shepherd: Mars Needs Sheep in 2012 and Frutorious in 2013 before releasing Don’t Die, Mr. Robot on Vita in 2014 followed by a port to PS4 that all have a focus on fun and unique concepts in common. Can Rogue Aces deliver Infinite State Games’ trademark qualities of gameplay?

Gameplay begins with a tutorial covering such fundamental gameplay mechanics as how to take off, manoeuvre, accelerate, fire on enemies and more besides. There is an option to explore more advanced training techniques such as how to engage auto piloting your plane when approaching the carrier’s landing strip, using heavier artillery than the cannon to destroy an enemy base as part of capturing it and more or alternatively to progress onto starting a game mode.

There are a multitude of game modes, although only the normal campaign mode is available to choose from after the tutorial as the other game modes are gradually unlocked. Normal campaign mode provides a set of 100 procedurally generated missions to complete such as destroying an enemy blimp in the air, gunboats in the sea, an enemy cargo train and much more besides, although all manner of enemy vehicles and infantry will be looking to defeat the player’s plane. Unlockable game modes include veteran campaign mode that is essentially the same as normal campaign mode, albeit with every training assist turned off, while frontline campaign provides a time attack form of gameplay that tasks the player to complete a particular quantity of objectives on an island; rogue ace is a score attack mode with fully powered up planes and no missions; and survival is an arcade dogfighting deathmatch, alongside further unlockable game modes that each freshen up the gameplay.

Earning XP is important for unlocking additional game modes via levelling up. XP can be earned through completing missions, defeating enemies, collecting upgrades, rescuing prisoners and more besides that are all covered in detail when the player inevitably reaches the game over screen.

Plane design is emphasised by not just showing a war plane, but actually depicting its fragility as there are major components that can be damaged by enemies. For instance, the engine that will cause your plane to reduce in speed and not be able to use the war emergency power boost, while the wings or tail being damaged will result in less manoeuvrability, alongside the fuel tank that could be hit that would cause it to leak fuel, but if any part of the plane was to become too badly damaged, then it would explode, although the male or female pilot the player had chosen to fly the plane can eject out of the plane beforehand. Enemy design has a fair quantity of variation to it as enemies do not only pilot, but also blimps, while enemy gunboats are positioned in the sea, alongside tanks and ground infantry that are situated at enemy bases.

Environment design includes enemy bases situated on the ground that enemy planes depart from before firing on the player’s plane in aerial dogfights with the major differences in environment design being procedurally generated islands and the multiple times of day and night that occur as the player progresses through each mission.

Rogue Aces supports cross-buy and cross-save between the PS4 and Vita. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase. The cross-save functionality allows you to sync the progression of your save file from your Vita to your PS4 and vice versa, so you can start playing the game on your Vita on the way to and from work, sync your save game when you return home and then resume were you left off by loading the save game and continuing via the PS4 version. The cross-save feature is made possible by uploading your save file to the cloud on one console and downloading it from the other console.

The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita and DualShock 4 controller as both versions have a comfortable control scheme. There are three control schemes including alternate, classic and custom with the default alternate control scheme on Vita consisting of pressing R, triangle or square to fire different weapons; pressing X to engage auto-pilot; pressing O to eject then parachute out of the plane; pressing L to boost; pressing left on the d-pad to view the damage report; pressing select to view stats; changing the direction of the left analogue stick to steer your plane; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to utilise the throttle; and pressing start to display the pause menu. The DualShock 4 controller has a slightly different default control scheme as the player can press R1 or R2 to fire one of the weapons; pressing L1 or L2 to boost; tapping the touch pad to display statistics; and pressing the options button to display the pause menu. Meanwhile, the customisable control scheme allows the player to map each part of the control scheme, although there is no touch screen implementation on Vita, although any part of the custom control scheme can be mapped to the touch pad on the DualShock 4 controller. Vibration occurs when firing weapons to reflect the recoil of the cannons or the radius of other weapons, while the light bar produces a bright white when flying the plane that briefly flashes red when having been hit by an enemy firing on your plane.

Graphically, Rogue Aces has a wonderful graphical art style as an alternative approach to cel-shading that brings the planes, blimps, vehicles and ground infantry to life, alongside the environments with such fantastic touches as layered clouds in the foreground and distance, lens flare and an evolving time of day from sunrise to sunset and night time, while the aerial dogfights are fast paced with a consistent frame-rate on both PS4 and Vita.

Rogue Aces’ presentation is solid with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, game mode menus, options menus and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left and right analogue sticks, directional pad and face buttons on Vita and DualShock 4, although it does not include support for navigation via the touch screen or touch pad between Vita and DualShock 4. Menu backgrounds focus on the three planes piloted by the player flying through the clouds, while the Rogue Aces logo is positioned along the top centre of the menus.

Voice-overs do not provide a vocal for every line of dialogue contained within the speech bubbles, although the voice-overs cover enough to keep it amusing in tone. Sound effects include your plane and enemy planes flying through the air, firing weaponry at enemies and enemies firing at your plane, explosions, landing your plane and more besides; complimented by instrumental rock music by Kevin Black. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation that could have produced voice-overs, sound effects or music.

The trophy list includes 34 trophies with 16 bronze trophies, 12 silver trophies, 5 gold trophies and 1 platinum trophy. The vast majority of trophies are rather hard to achieve such as the Domination silver trophy for capturing all enemy bases; the Like A Pro bronze trophy for performing a carrier landing using less than a quarter of the deck with no automatic landing; the Really Dedicated gold trophy for maxing out all stats in campaign mode; and the Maverick silver trophy for scoring 10 points in survival mode without firing a single bullet. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 15 to 20 hours to platinum the trophy list.

Campaign mode has two difficulty levels as the player begins on normal campaign mode before unlocking veteran campaign mode that prevents the player from using any assists such as being able to land the plane much easier in normal campaign in comparison to veteran campaign. Meanwhile, procedurally generated missions in normal or veteran campaign become gradually harder as the player progresses through them such as destroying one plane, gunboat, tank or ground infantry eventually reaches multiple quantities.

Infinite State Games has mentioned that multiple local multiplayer modes are in the BETA testing phase. All of Rogue Aces’ gameplay within each mode certainly has the feeling of a rather fun local multiplayer dogfighting game. For instance, survival mode would work well as a deathmatch mode with customisable elements such as the quantity of frags per round and the length of each round. Meanwhile, every mission campaign mode would be perfect for split-screen multiplayer as one player would be the good team and the other player would essentially be the opposition as they attempt to complete separate sets of mission objectives and capturing each other’s bases. Only time will tell what local multiplayer functionality will be integrated into Rogue Aces, but it is nice to see that Infinite State Games is providing such quality post-launch support. There are also online leaderboards to compete for high scores.

Rogue Aces’ replayability stems from multiple unlockable game modes via earning XP to level up, procedurally generated mission objectives and islands and online leaderboards, alongside superb post-launch support including future implementation of local multiplayer that will collectively bring players back for more for quite some time.

Analysis
• Title: Rogue Aces
• Developer: Infinite State Games
• Publisher: Curve Digital
• System: PS4/PS Vita
• Format: PSN Download
• Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
• Cross-Play: Yes (Cross-save between PS4 and PS Vita)
• Players: 1/Local Multiplayer Post-Launch Update available in the near future (Online Leaderboards)
• PS4 Hard Drive Space Required: 177.8MB (Version 1.02)
• PS Vita Memory Card Space Required: 95MB (Version 1.02)

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