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iPhone App Video Review: Flight Control Rocket

by Andrew Koziara

The long awaited sequel to Firemint’s hit line drawing game Flight Control is finally here. Flight Control Rocket takes the fan favorite mechanics we all know and love and adds tons of variety to the mix, along with a shiny new coat of outer space sci-fi. It has the same heart as its predecessor, but unfortunately that heart is tainted by the overuse of in-app purchase micro-transactions.

The in-app purchases are completely optional, but the pressure is always on to buy, buy, buy, and it’s quite distracting. Hey… isn’t this the first Flight Control game to be released after Firemint was acquired by Electronic Arts?

Instead of flying planes into an airport, you fly space ships into a massive space station/aircraft carrier thing. The randomness of being in space allows for plenty of fun and exciting new ships, from the snaking conga line of ships, to ships that spawn and send out smaller landing craft as they go, and much more. Of course, the three different color classes of ships have their own ports, and they all have variable speeds and mechanics depending on their current condition. This title adopts a three-strikes-and-you’re-out life system, so one mid-vacuum collision won’t lead to a game over. The line drawing mechanics themselves remain as simple and fun as ever. As you rack up a high score, you’ll also collect lots of coins, and that’s where the game first shows weakness.

Coins that you earn can be spent on fun little robot companions which you equip before going to work. These robots offer various bonuses and tweaks, such as extra money, random point bonuses, or removing the collision warning and slow motion for even more points! They even level up and improve as you rack up points and experience. You can also use coins to buy yourself back into the game if you don’t want to lose your current score. Two robot related items are the power crystals and the batteries. Power crystals can be equipped before a game session to multiply the experience each robot gets. Batteries act as your robots life force, and you can only use each robot while they have power. They do recover power over time, albeit rather slowly. You’ll only get three or four uses out of them before they need to be benched, and the batteries aren’t cheap. All of this optional IAP wouldn’t be so bad if everything wasn’t so ludicrously expensive and difficult to save up for. It will take you an absurd amount of hours to save up for any high level robots, and that just doesn’t suit a casual, quick play session score game like this one. I love the idea of game tweaks and mutators, but this is not the way.

The new art style is extremely colorful and really pops out. The backgrounds change color as your massive carrier ship soars through the stars, and it’s all rather groovy. The soundtrack is quirky and definitely sets the right tone. Unfortunately the IAP really obscures all the great elements of the game and leaves a bad taste in your mouth. I mean, this is essentially a paid freemium game in the end. EA’s Origin platform is fully supported, and this iOS Universal game is currently available for one dollar. It’s also fully optimized with the third generation iPad, so if you’ve got one, it’ll be extra shiny. It’s still definitely a fun addition to the franchise worth checking out.