Act: Rocket Duel (by Trumgottist)
Release Date (v1.02) : 12/13/02
Developer: Trumgottist Entertainment
Requirements: PII at 233 MHz, DirectX 5, and a friend (2 player only)
Rocket Duel is a unique, two player on same keyboard only game in which the players are given rockets to control of varying colors, red and blue, with limited ammo and with the goal of, depending on the map, either destroying it's opponent's ship, playing in a Capture the flag match, or one flag capture the flag match, where there is one purple flag to be captured and returned to the player's base. If a flag-bearing ship is shot, it loses its flag. The maps are much more complex than simple unadorned boxes, however. They are a series of creatively themed maps containing obstacles that are part of the map's theme, giving the impression you are playing in an actual location, rather than a random maze. They are generally creative pieces of artwork and appealing to the eye. There are two ways to die-losing all your rocket's hit points from another players (or even your own) attacks, or crashing into obstacles in the mazes or the other rocket. Very straightforward and very easy to master, for most of the maps.
There is no real plot or continuity between the maps-just a fun, simple diversion to play with friends, much like a deathmatch game. To begin, select a difficulty-the easy difficulty prevents the rockets from crashing, where the only damage comes from player attacks. The middle difficulty automatically rotates the rocket to a landing position when it nears walls and flat surfaces, but uneven surfaces and sharp corners are still deadly. The hardest difficulty is one where the player has full control over the rocket, but touching any surface in a non-parallel position crashes the rocket. After difficulty, players may select a specific map, or choose to be given a random CTF map, a random free-for-all map, tornament mode, which is a scorekeeping progression through all the maps, or an in-general random map. Since there are 24 maps, there is a wide range of material to see.
The maps contain objects besides simply barriers and decorative backgrounds. They contain several special objects and characters that add a lot of "cool" factor to this title. (Taken from the readme)
Water: The rockets float in water.
Mud: Mud slows down the rockets considerably
Green bumpers: Bounces away the rockets
Fish and frogs: Harmless. If you fly (swim) into one, you'll just bounce away.
Sheep: You can land on them. ;-)
Christmas gifts: Bounces away rockets. Will explode when landed.
Roller conveyor: Land on it, and your rocket will be moved horizontally
The programming in this game is virtually flawless-the scrolling is smooth, the clipping is spot on, save a small error you actually have to be looking for to find (the rocket can sometimes push through objects) and the framerates were perfect on the 350 MHz AMD K62 I played it on.
The game is very flexible-all four keys you need (turn left, turn right, accelerate, fire) are configurable for each player. There are keys for viewing the map, saving a screenshot, and pausing. The volume can be configured from within the game. The difficulty and map options add more options in how you want to play. This makes Rocket Duel much more convenient to access and easier to learn and master. Many of the maps were nonlinear, providing multiple entrances to the enemy's base/spawn location. This, at many times, allows an element of surprise. However, some maps don't and are quite linear. There is a good balance of both types of map, satisfying all players of this game.
There were, however, some notable flaws to this title. The lack of an A.I. controlled rocket for a singleplayer mode would have been a significant addition, were it present. Some maps that would be great in CTF did not have CTF counterparts. There is no way to exit tournament mode other than skipping through all the maps by repeatedly hitting escape. Those are trivial, however, compared to the program's main problem- many of the maps had inconsistent and unclear map design. For example, in "Monsters", there is a wall between the two symetric halves of the map dividing the two players that were solid black tiles, rather than clearly defined walls. Some of the maps, like "First Flag on Mars", when an edge is approached, will teleport the player to the opposite side, allowing circumnavigation, but in other maps this ability isn't there and the rocket's simply crash into the edge of the wall. In my opinion, the boundaries should have been made more clear. In many of the more decorative maps, like "Office" and "Bassoon and Clarinet", this caused many unnecessary deaths until the maps were learned. Picking colors that contrasted more to the environment for the barriers would have helped, preventing prominent obstacles from appearing as part of the wallpaper. However, many of the maps did this spot-on, such as "I am sailing", where the setting is a ship in the ocean. "The Two Towers" and "First Flag on Mars" are more examples of a well designed map in this game for both the appealing visual aesthetic and the clearly defined barriers. However, once the maps are learned, this usually isn't a problem.
Graphics (7/10) The maps are well stylized and contain creative themes, illustrated quite well. The animated characters/objects, the artwork, and anything you see give this game personality.
Sound (7/10) The music in Rocket Duel usually suits the theme of the map perfectly (ex. The Christmas themed maps have variations of Christmas music playing in the background) , and ranges from a perfect fit to merely good. There are a few quiet sound effects that neither help nor harm the game, as the dominant source of sound is the music. The themes in the music also are a key factor in adding personality to the maps.
Gameplay (9/10) The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up, and there are difficulty levels and varying levels of map difficulty to help newcomers get a feel for the game.
Options (9/10) Players have total control of the playing difficulty through the map and the actual difficulty setting. Players can control which map to play on, or have a random one selected, with the option of the random map being generated within a specific gametype. There is also a tournament mode, which takes players through every map, keeping score throughout. Rebindable keys and sound vaolume are minor details that increase the accessibility of Rocket Duel.
Concept (9/10) The additions of Capture the Flag, One Flag Capture the Flag, and original maps with environmental objects and characters add to an established concept.
Fun (8/10) It's a small file, is easy to learn, and lets you shoot at your friends. Quite addictive.
OVERALL: 8 Added: December 29th 2002
Reviewer: Christopher Pugh
Related Link: Rocket Duel Screenshots
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