I’ve never been one for aerial combat games. Anything that involves flying a plane, helicopter, or anything else in the sky has never appealed to me much. So I was slightly apprehensive going into Rogue Aces Deluxe. With that said, I had great fun battling it out in multiplayer modes. As well as getting great satisfaction from blowing bases to pieces and shooting down planes. But did find the game to become repetitive with the lack of varied missions and complicated landing mechanics.
Rogue Aces Deluxe is a classic 2D shoot ’em up. You play as an ace pilot tasked with single-handedly winning the war. Equipt with your arsenal of bombs and missiles, you will need to shoot down planes, boats, and tanks as well as blow up and capture bases to help acquire domination. The game’s solid and responsive controls make all the weapons fun to use and easy to handle. However, I found the camera movement too fast at first, but you do end up getting used to it.
Rogue Aces Deluxe features three different campaign modes. Up first is the “Normal Campaign.” Here you are given several missions to complete by the commander. They consist of only a few things, such as destroying a certain number of tanks or shooting several planes. Most of the tasks given to you all play out very similarly. So there is no need to adapt your playstyle for specific missions. This led to me having no investment in what I was doing. I was flying to the marker, dropping the bombs, and flying back to base without having to think about what the mission was. It was far too repetitive and went on for way too long. Eventually, after about thirty minutes, I would end up losing concentration and crashing the plane.
Next up is Veteran mode; this is the same as normal but harder. There is no target in veteran mode to show where you are aiming and no ability to auto-land. I found landing rather tricky as you had to be particularly precise with your speed and landing distance. After going back to the tutorial to learn how to land, I gave up and went back to normal mode as I could never master landing consistently. But if your willing to put the time into learning how to land, you might find more enjoyment from Veteran mode than I did.
The last of the three campaign modes is “Front Line Campaign” here, you have to progress across several islands to capture them and move your war front forward. In this mode, you have many attempts across all the levels, and the game ends once you run out rather than ending after the first death. I found this the most enjoyable of the campaign modes due to the progression, but it plays very similarly to the other two. Destroy a certain amount of things without dying and set a high score, not that there’s nothing particularly wrong with that. I mean, it is an arcade game, after all. But when runs can go on for over thirty minutes, it all feels rather repetitive and meaningless.
Rogue Aces Deluxe also has an Arcade Mode that features four different modes. I was only able to unlock two of the modes, being survival and rogue ace. As of writing, I’m not sure how to unlock the other modes. I thought they might be behind score or XP, but after checking my rankings on the leaderboards, I would assume that is not the case. As I ranked inside the top 10 for score in all modes and lifetime XP, and they have still not unlocked.
Survival mode is as simple as it sounds. You fight as many planes as you can before you die, and the more planes you destroy, the higher your score. In Rogue Ace mode, it’s all about dealing damage. Your score increases by blowing up and destroy as much as you can. I enjoyed Rogue Ace mode more than survival. It was very satisfying performing airstrikes and watching the bases explode into pieces and going on an absolute rampage. And if I wanted to scratch that dogfighting itch, I could always hop into multiplayer rather than survival.
Like the Veteran mode, there is no auto landing in the arcade modes, so you are forced to learn how to land. And as I previously mentioned landing the plane is very difficult. This meant that the arcade modes have little pickup and playability as you have to master the landing mechanics to get any reasonable score, which is a shame as I would have enjoyed seeing what scores I could achieve. It would have been nice to have the option to play these modes with auto land on. Even if that meant it had a separate leaderboard to keep everything fair.
Rogue Aces has three different multiplayer modes that can be played against AI bots or with up to 3 friends locally. To be clear, I could only play against the AI, but I can only assume the experience is better with friends as most games are.
First up is “Pure Deathmatch.” In this mode, it’s an all-out fight to see who can score the most points. You score points by destroying other planes and dealing damage, so you want to make sure that you are dealing as much damage as possible, even if it’s not the killing blow. This mode was fun, but I enjoyed “Deluxe Deathmatch” more as it plays like standard deathmatch but with added power-ups. This, for me, was the best of the three modes. I enjoyed the added chaos that the power-ups brought to the game. It kept things constantly fresh throughout the whole battle compared to the standard deathmatch. But it’s nice to have the option for those who want to keep the experience pure.
Finally, there is “Wing Commander.” It plays like deathmatch, except you are on an AI-controlled team trying to score eliminations. Not much to talk about here, as there’s no option to play this mode with the power-ups. I did not find myself playing this mode as much as I would have if that were an option.
Overall I enjoyed playing the different multiplier modes, and there is lots of replayability here compared to the campaign. However, I would have liked to customize some of the rules. All matches are five minutes in length, and there is sadly no way to change that. Finally, when playing solo, I had to use a controller as mouse, and keyboard was not an option for multiplayer. So I had to adapt to new control settings to play the multiplayer, but this was not a massive issue as the controls are easy to pick up.
I enjoyed Rogue Aces gameplay and satisfying explosions, and the variety of multiplayer modes on offer. And its solid controls mean you can jump right in if you are playing modes with auto-land on. However, it did not take long for the experience to become repetitive because of the extended campaign mode and lack of varied missions. Finally, the landing mechanic made arcade mode inaccessible to me as I could not master landing, even after spending half an hour in the tutorial trying to get the hang of it.