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SmartGamer - RocketElite Gold Review

RocketElite Gold, by Digital Concepts

Review by James Sweet

Digital concepts have been one of the first software companies to support the smartphone platform, and their software is some of the finest around, so when I saw that a new improved version of their pocket PC game RocketElite was coming to the smartphone I was very excited indeed! On the PocketPC, RocketElite is one of the top rated games of all time, but could the game be successfully packed into a phone? Read on and find out�

   

Installation was trouble free, but you are forced to endure a complicated registration process before you can start playing. Having negotiated this I was strapping in, ready to blast off with my first game! Rocketelite is quite a memory hog, requiring 5Mb free memory to play. The game takes a little while to load, and if you have been using your phone for other apps previously you might see a low memory warning, but I found that after a press of the back key the game could usually free enough memory and boot up as required.

A lovely looking animated menu screen will greet you upon load, plus a suitable beat plays along in the background. So first impressions are good, but now it�s high time for some action! The options to choose from, in no particular order are; �Intro� (for some suitably contrived background story � yawn), �New game� (now we�re talking!), �Jump gate�, (to load a game), �High scores� (surely I don�t need to explain this one), �Game Info�, �Game Options�, �Credits�, �View Demo� and �Multiplayer� (I�ll talk more about this later). You can also have a quit option by editing an obvious text file the game installs on your phone, thereby cunningly allowing the game to pass Microsoft Logo Rules, yet satisfying those of us who like to quit an app when not using it!

   

New game seemed the obvious place to start (although I would recommend checking what the controls are before you start!) You are then given the mission briefing to read through while the level loads, before blasting off! In Rocketelite you are the pilot of a little pointy rocket ship that can rotate and thrust in a direction of your choosing, and be armed with all manner of weird and wonderful weapons, shields, tractor beams, repulsor arrays, etc etc. For the first mission you are required to pay a visit to the moon and rescue two clumsy astronauts, who appear to have crashed their ship in an unlikely looking lunar cave. Now what kind of a nutter would want to pilot a rocket into such a tight spot eh? Well I guess you would of course�

Careful control of the ship is the key game: firing your engine to give you just the right speed to make it through a narrow tunnel before a quick halt inches away from a fiery grave does indeed make some fun gameplay. Tearing myself away from it to write this review was an extremely difficult move. (It�s only cause I�m so dedicated J ) A little bit heavy on the ol� accelerator will see your ship reduced to particles, which flow down and settle on the terrain � a characteristic of many of Doug Beck�s games. You will get most of your points from performing clever landings, the smaller the landing site, the higher the points! You can get even more points if you pull off a �3 point� landing, (like a plane landing) as opposed to a standard straight down one. On some levels you will find Landing assist radars to help avoid scratching the paintwork on a tricky landing. (Try and park on a non-flat bit of land and you�ll be left counting spaceship particles) Some might find this a little too tricky but fortunately there are 4 levels of difficulty ranging from Easy to Insane, plus an additional training mode which slows everything down until you�ve mastered the controls. You can also find a shield on many levels, which will absorb damage and give relief to sufferers of space asthma everywhere.

   

There are a plentiful supply of missions (50 ish, plus there is a level editor to design your own), and the goals are extremely variable. Some missions are rescue missions, or seek and destroy outings, but you will find that the goals range right down to the downright crazy � for example for one mission you have to abduct monkeys from trees using your tractor beam, and for a latter mission you are required to perform a �deceleration test� where you drop the monkeys from high altitude to observe the effects when they come in contact with the ground far below� (splat!!!) This sort of wacky humour is something to look out for as you progress through the game, and another incentive to reach the next level.

As you progress from level to level, you best status on each level is automatically saved if you want to come back and try that level again via the �jump gate� option. You are able to fully configure the controls to whatever you like, and can either control the rocket in �arcade mode� � where the ship goes in the direction you press, or �classic mode� � where you separately control rotation and thrust. Arcade mode is a lot easier to begin with, but after playing for some time I have grown to like the classic mode too, as although trickier to get used gives you greater control because you can turn the ship without also accelerating in that direction.

As you can no doubt see from the screenshots the graphics are superb, and the game always plays nice and smoothly. There is quite a bit of variation in the graphics between levels � yet another plus point to mean you will not tire of this game quickly. The music complements the game extremely well, changing to a faster more pronounced soundtrack when you load a new level. Other sound effects have been fitted in well, adding perfectly to the mood of the game � for example on the cow abduction level the surprised cows moo when you grab them with a tractor beam.

Other sound effects have been fitted in well, adding perfectly to the mood of the game � for example on the cow abduction level the surprised cows moo when you grab them with a tractor beam.

RocketElite Gold is also (I believe) the first commercial smartphone game to feature an online multiplayer mode. This is the sort of thing the phone networks dream of � a perfect way to drive up data revenue. Unfortunately I was somewhat disappointed here: although I was able to connect to Elitenet via GPRS (after first opening IE � the game didn�t seem to be able to connect by itself) the problem was that I could never find an opponent to play a game with. I also had a problem getting the passthrough server software on my PC to connect with my cradled phone. That meant that I could join a multiplayer game using passthough, but not host one. Hopefully the fix to this is a simple one that will come shortly. At the moment I think the best bet is to set certain times for games, so that an opponent can be found � at least until the game becomes more widespread. Really what should happen is the phone networks should licence a copy with every new smartphone that they sell � then they would be providing everyone with an outstanding game, whilst at the same time achieving their ambition of driving up data revenues. Then we�d never be short of opponents either!

   

Conclusion

The disappointment with being unable to test the multiplayer mode is pretty much the only bad point I could find in the game. The single player game is extremely good fun, with loads of different powerups to collect, and tactics required. The variety in the missions and the humorous touches make this a game that is very very hard to put down. Graphics, sounds and gameplay are all 1st rate � if you are wondering whether to buy this game stop wondering, go out and get it now! And that�s as much as I�ll say, because I�ve interrupted my game of Rocketelite for long enough already�

Pros:

Top notch graphics and sounds
Addictive gameplay and varied objectives
Lots of wacky humour

Cons:

Not yet enough opponents on Elitenet

RocketElite Gold scores 9/10

Scoring

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