Is that a rocket in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?
If you were EA, how would you go set about improving the classic iOS game Flight Control? No doubt you’d change the setting to outer space, update the graphics so they were super sharp on the new retina display iPad and give the title a swinging 60′s sci-fi theme complete with psychedelic colours and groovy soundtrack.
That would probably do it. But of course, this is 2012, so naturally you’d be obliged to add the most horrifyingly shoehorned IAP system, where it feels like every gameplay advantage you could possibly have has been stripped back and dangled in front of your face for only 69p. Yeah, I guess this is just a thinly veiled attack on the state of gaming at the moment (not just iOS either, check out Tiger Woods PGA Tour 13 on the 360 or PS3. Eww), but these are the journalistic liberties I’ve been blessed with.
That pretty much says it all. Can I end this review now? Why take 700 words to say what 200 can say just as well? I’m all for efficient writing.
Ok, since you’re all clamouring for it, I’ll continue. The original Flight Control was a game perfectly suited to the format, and Flight Control Rocket has managed to keep that intact while adding new twists on the gameplay.
You’re familiar with the drill: guide aircraft onto the landing zone, tracing a safe path with your finger while avoiding collisions and earn coins. Coincidentally, this is the exact same brief Air Traffic Controllers at London Heathrow receive when they start the job.
Now that everything’s in space however, you’ve got to deal with some extras; ships come in a range of colours and must be guided to runways that match their hue, some fly in specific formations and others eject smaller ships in their wake. There are 15 different ships in total. And of course, with all of them flying at speeds – which make crashes inevitable at some point or other – serious concentration is needed after the introductory stages.
There was an innocence to Flight Control that Flight Control Rocket lacks. It’s as if the game has woken up and realised how great it is; now believing all its hype. Flight Control was like a local hamburger joint, where each meal was made by hand by Ross and Patty – a couple in their 50′s who’ve lived in the neighbourhood all their lives. Flight Control Rocket is like a monstrous corporate bludgeon taking over the fast food industry with their Hamburger Dominator Machine which pumps out burgers at a rate of 100 a minute. I’m sure you get the picture.
Nowhere is this more obvious than in the aggressive push for micro transactions. To aid with the increasingly difficult task of bringing each set of ships in, you have access to robots (sadly, they’re not in disguise.) These robots take different portions of the game and make it slightly easier to accomplish your task. There’s one for increasing your score multiplier, one for landing spacecraft, one that makes continuing cost less coins when you die, and one for making you toast. Yes, I made that one up.
But, only one of the aforementioned robots is free (it’s not the toast one), everything else either costs coins – which of course take several millennia to save up in-game – or guess what? You can purchase them using REAL coins! Why hasn’t anyone thought of that before? Without wanting to sound like the Scrooge I am, you’ll soon find the IAP system a crude, tacked-on punch in the unmentionables. Of course you don’t have to buy anything, but let’s face it. You do.
And like any game that involves frantically swiping from the top of the screen, inadvertently opening the Notification Centre can be an issue. I can’t begin to count the number of times I was trying to steer some green or blue or multi-coloured ship onto the runway only to instead discover that Kenny just text me (I must message him back actually).
So that’s the thing. Flight Control Rocket is actually a good game; certainly worth more than the three stars I’m going to give it. (Whoops. Should I have revealed my score before the end? Is the art of suspense in videogame reviewing DEAD?) And I know you really should score a game on merit, not on anything else that surrounds it, but with the sinister spectre of IAP ever present, it’s becoming increasingly harder to do just that.
If it were up to me, I’d charge you 69p and let you enjoy the game you just paid for without shoving all this IAP down your throat. Heck, cos it’s you dear reader, I’d charge you 49p.
So blame me for this review being a badly disguised commentary on gaming in 2012 if you want, just don’t blame me for the score. That’s EA’s fault.
Flight Control Rocket is out now for $0.99. Get it on the