Game Over Online ~ Rocket Elite

GameOver Game Reviews - Rocket Elite (c) Ubi Soft, Reviewed by - Fwiffo

Game & Publisher Rocket Elite (c) Ubi Soft
System Requirements Pocket PC
Overall Rating 90%
Date Published Monday, February 4th, 2002 at 06:39 PM

Divider Left By: Fwiffo Divider Right

RocketElite was one of the first visually engaging titles for the Pocket PC although its developers, Digital Concepts, did not choose to stop at that. Indeed, their diligent efforts have spawned a whole legion of RocketElite cultists. RocketElite, in its purest form, is like a cross between the classics, Choplifter and Lander. You pilot your craft much like Lander, using tiny amounts of thrust to propel you through a world rife with realistic physics. You must land to retrieve items, equipment and people through a variety of missions. Of course, combat will undoubtedly crop up. So far, I'm sure everyone will guess it resembles the 2D classic, Choplifter. It's not that different except to perform your tasks, you often have to perform Lander-style landings. Moreover, more challenging landings (including landings on the side of your craft) earn you more score. The unique thing about all this is the implementation of a score code. At the end of each level, you receive a code, which you can send online to record your score in the pantheon of RocketElite players. By now, RocketElite has amassed so many cultists it's a near impossibility to beat those ranks. However, the sense of contribution is unique and it persuades you to replay existing levels as well.

RocketElite is packed with a lengthy single player campaign that takes you through a variety of environments. The places you visit are colorful although there isn't an overarching correlation between environment and mission. In this sense, the campaign plays out a lot like the sterile storyline of Descent. You simply go in to rescue people with no notion of how they got there or why they are there or why you are going there. Weapons and upgrades you amass during a campaign are carried over so there's an overall continuity as you strive to upgrade your craft. Continuing the title's connections to the outside world, Digital Concepts implemented the ability to play custom levels. Because of RocketElite's popularity, there are plenty of scenario add-ons. Furthermore, RocketElite supports 'multi-level' add-ons. These are simply scenarios strung together in a campaign fashion not unlike the one that comes with the original package. You can construct your own levels, with scripts and custom graphics. An in depth tutorial found on the RocketElite website helps facilitate this as well. All in all, you'll find plenty of gameplay hours in this title.

The very name RocketElite drummed up a few memories of the Rocket Arena mod for the Quake engines. Using infrared, you can duel with another player in deathmatch fashion using any of the existing single player modes. This is yet another way for RocketElite to expand outside its box and connect to the outside world. To control your ship, you use a tiny amount of stylus to accelerate your craft and the buttons are configured such that it works around nearly every known Pocket PC device. Although this gives you a fine precise control with your ship when you are stationary, I found the controls to be frustrating when you're in motion especially in places like subways or commuter trains. I wished there was an option to kick in some looser physics for people who are either not used to the game or are in situations that I described above. Otherwise, most players will face a fairly steep learning curve but luckily Digital Concepts includes a training area that serves as a sandbox mode for players (of all levels of expertise) to practice in. Although somewhat obscured in the myriad of menu choices, there is a very revealing demo of how the game is played that should be on the top of every new player's list.

Holistically speaking, the graphics are all 2D nature but RocketElite features some blisteringly frame rates (past 30 fps in most instances). Added to that, it includes a hail of particle effects and transparencies. You might not think much of the game in general from the screenshots but the frame rate really adds a sense of speed to your craft and helps create a sense of excitement that only serves to help make RocketElite a compelling arcade experience. Curiously missing, though, is any ability to play a persistent soundtrack or, considering the whole customization motif, an ability to import your own tracks into the game. I'm sure this would give third party level designers something to toy around with considering the major corpus of their work is based on things like movie franchises or inspiration from other media.

This title not only exudes technical prowess, it is bereft with expandability as well as a strong emphasis on gameplay that almost emerges like a sport. With the community it has amassed, the quirky sport-like gameplay is almost like Quake or Tribes. Its design creates an addictive or obsessive feeling along the lines of racing games like Grand Turismo or Project Gotham Racing. You'll be playing some levels over and over again in order to attain a higher score. The fact that you can announce this achievement to the world gives this title a definite advantage. Hopefully, the developers will consider including some expanded multiplayer functions, ghost modes and other features to continue this title's longevity. But all things considered, Digital Concepts definitely has a winner here.

[10/10] Addictiveness
[19/20] Gameplay
[15/15] Graphics
[09/10] Interface/controls
[09/10] Program Size
[04/05] Sound
[04/05] Discreetness
[12/15] Learning Curve
[08/10] Multiplayer


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