Review – Cosmic Rocket Defense

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Review – Cosmic Rocket Defense
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Action
PC (Desura / Steam)
Developer: Alien Sync Interactive
Publisher: Black Shell Media
July 17th, 2015

Cosmic Rocket Defender stands as the debut PC title from developing team Alien Sync Interactive. A modern take on the simplistic arcade cabinets of old, this title had made its way on the Desura gaming marketplace, and most recently the Steam digital store by way of the greenlight program they have. It was picked up for digital distribution through Black Shell Media, who have been unleashing a good number of titles as of late. However, this one seems to have slipped by the radars, finding very little attention. In fact, at the time of writing this, there’s only two reviews posted for the Steam version, one positive and one negative. So, what’s the verdict, then? Is it a fun little game that you need to play right away, or does it need a lot of work before you can justify the hefty price tag of four dollars (US currency)?

Well, there’s no major story line to be had with this game to worry about. The idea is simply that you drive around a mobile rocket launcher and shoot down invading alien forces. It’s a fairly generic concept, but that’s not all that sticks to the tried but true blueprints of arcade classics like Space Invaders and Missile Command, both of which this title seems to be a mixture of. Thankfully, Alien Sync has done a little more with the concept than just blurring those two world together, though did leave out the ship dropping down and landing if you fail to destroy them all in time (which removes a good chunk of stress and tact from the gameplay).

Visually, Cosmic Rocket Defender does have a number of nice science fiction backgrounds, as well as decent 3D modelling as far as the alien invader ships go. Of course, the enemies could be a little more dynamic than just slightly different colored skins or just being invisible, but the main bosses actually do have some extra detail that puts the emphasis on the fact that all other foes are simply pawns in the greater scheme of the attempted takeover. However, the grid in the sky is incredibly annoying, and it would be nice to have an option to turn it off, or an options menu at all, really, given that this is a game you’re stuck playing in windowed mode, period.

Cosmic Rocket Defender

Outside that, the audio is incredibly boring. The guitar score tries to channel a distressful heavy metal presence, and it’s ok for what it is, even though it sounds like it was recorded in a cheap in-home studio, the quality greatly clashing with the far sleeker visuals on display. The sound effects are also unimpressive, but they get the job done instead. It’s nice to have them, but you’ll wish the developer had just paid a little extra in royalties to get a proper soundtrack recorded, or at least to record in a better studio and have the audio mixed properly.

Thankfully the basic control scheme works to keep the game moving along nicely. This title features partial controller support, though it’s not really necessary. A keyboard will work out fine if you don’t happen to have a controller for your computer. The mouse is used for firing and setting off explosions (left and right buttons respectively), but you can choose between using the arrow keys or W A S D, the latter I found just as helpful as plugging in my Logitech gamepad, if not more so. The missile launcher you control moves smoothly and there’s very little (if any) delay in weapon fire, though you might think there is at first given you can only shoot three rockets in a row sometimes. There is auto-fire, however, which clears that up for the most part. The rest is remedied by purchasing upgrades.

Cosmic Rocket Defender

And that additional system is one of the big perks to the game. You are able to upgrade your mobile missile defense unit, though the options themselves are fairly limited. Certain ones such as armor and mbomb (which I assume means mega bomb) are only temporary upgrades, leaving you to purchase more as the game progresses as necessary. However, the speed and rocket options remain until you quit the game. You can also obtain badges and coins from downed enemy ships that fill up the aforementioned temporary upgrades by one, as well as a multi-missile attack that you get for a brief amount of time, though ends up quite helpful in later levels. In order to buy these you need money, which, again, is done by downing enemies or completing certain objectives in the bonus levels.

However, there are a few issues to be had other than a lack of an options menu and ability to go to genuine full screen. It’d be nice to have some unlockables for completing certain tasks or bonus stages, as well as some bonus game modes like survival, boss rush, or even on-line or off-line co-op. But the worst is there’s no level select or save game option, which is the most annoying aspect. At the time of writing this, you need to play this game in one shot. Come the second boss, you’ll find yourself having a great deal of trouble surviving and maybe want (or need) to step away for a bit. Either you leave the game on and come back later, or you start from scratch if you have to shut down for some reason. Having this option would also increase the replay factor. I had to stop at level twenty-two, and I’m a bit discouraged to start from scratch. If I could choose to start around where I left off, or maybe even load a save with my already acquired upgrades, I’d be a little more interested in playing the game again than I would otherwise.

Cosmic Rocket Defender

Cosmic Rocket Defender is far from a truly unique experience, but it’s also miles from a bad or boring title overall. There’s a number of things typically included given today’s standards of gaming, some of which are outlined in the paragraph above, and it’s a shame they are absent. Hopefully Alien Sync intends to update the game as time goes on, as there’s a lot more that can be done with it. If you have the time to sit down and really work at reaching later levels in a single go, Cosmic Rocket Defender is something worth checking out, or picking up if you see it on sale for a good price or in a bundle somewhere. However, if you’d rather wait and see if they implement a level selection or save state before buying, no one will blame you.


System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8
Processor: Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz or equivalent
Memory: 2 GB RAM
Graphics: ATI or NVidia card w/ 512 MB RAM
DirectX: Version 9.0
Hard Drive: 60 MB available space
Overall Score: 5.5/10
Digital review copy of this release provided by Black Shell Media.