Rocket Wars is a space-themed, arena style, shoot ‘em up developed by Archon Interactive and published by Rooftop Panda. The concept seems super simple, because it is, but this simple game offers high action combat at a frenzied pace. A casual drop-in drop-out experience that is great entertainment for parties and couch co-op. You can take on your friends head to head in a variety of game modes, but only locally as this title does not support online multiplayer. If you have no friends handy, fret not, you can add up to four bots to play with in the free for all modes or even team up with a bot for the team variants.
The core concept is an arena style combat based around a star, where the ships are in constant free fall towards the sun. You use your rocket boosters to navigate around the field, all while collecting power-ups and dodging bullets from other ships. The game play is easy to learn and not very difficult to master. You can unlock ships and skins by levelling up. You earn experience to level up by getting kills, winning the game, and collecting power-ups. Each ship you unlock has different stats, one positive and one negative, aside from the starting ship that is average in all areas. The skins are merely cosmetic.
At its heart, this game is about destroying the other ships but several game-types have been made around this formula. The first game type is a classic Deathmatch mode where a mix of 2-4 players and bots fight to be the first with 10 kills. The next game mode is very similar to Deathmatch and is called Survivor. In this mode, all players start with 5 lives and the last ship left alive is the winner. The next game mode is Nuke King where the first player to earn a kill becomes the nuke king. This starts a timer at the top of the screen and becomes a 3v1 to take out the nuke king. When the timer reaches zero, the nuke goes off killing all the other ships. The player who lands the final blow against the nuke king becomes the new king. This game type is by far my favourite game type and the most hectic mode. The last of the free for all game modes is Space Ball, similar in concept to Rocket League where a ball will fall into the field and the players must ram or shoot the ball into the other players’ area. This game mode is great for parties as it is fast paced and frantic. Lastly, there is a Free Play mode where score is not kept and there is no time limit where you can just practice or have a casual game where no one keeps score.
The team game modes are all the same but with teams, aside from one game mode called Entangled. In this game mode, the two teammates are attached by bungie rope and are drawn to each other as well as feeling gravity from the sun. The farther away the teammates are from each other, the smaller the ship becomes and the weaker it becomes, both offensively and defensively. The opposite holds true as well, so getting closer to your teammates means your damage gets a hefty boost as well as your defence.
The weaponry in this game is what makes it fun. The ship starts with a standard cannon that fires a steady line of bullets. All the ships also come with a shield built in that doubles as a melee attack when ramming enemy ships and hitting the shield to keep from taking collision damage. The rest of the weapons in the game come in the form of pick-ups that spawn on the field and have a firing button independent of the standard cannon. The first pickup is a machine gun that throws a hail of bullets at your opponents, the only drawback is it takes a second to spin up, similar to a mini gun. The next is your standard shotgun that sends a wall of lead into your opponents at close range but performs poorly at mid and long ranges. Next is the sniper shot which allows you to stop your ship (without freefalling) and aim for a one-shot kill. Another cool weapon is the buzz saw which is a saw that can be charged to do more damage and have a wider hit radius. The saw travels through enemies allowing for multi-kills. Also in the mix is standard mines that you drop behind you and can cause friendly-fire damage. Another interesting weapon is the pulse laser that shoots a steady beam of light at enemies. And lastly, is the nuke pickup, similar to the effects of the nuke in Nuke King yet the timer is only 10 seconds and killing the person with the nuke does not give you the nuke.
Overall this is a great casual game for parties or in couch coop but can quickly get old if playing alone against bots. My only grievance is the lack of online multiplayer and the fact that you cannot adjust the rules, for example, time limits, score limits, turn off certain power-ups.
Overall Scorer 9/10
Developer: Archon Interactive
Publisher: Rooftop Panda
Release Date: 9th May 2018
File Size: 133MB
Xbox One copy provided for review purpose.
Available on Xbox One & Steam