RA1

I would like to preface this by saying that I have a history of having fun with less than good games. I thought Eat Lead: The Return Of Matt Hazard was the bee’s knees. Duke Nukem Forever was entertaining. (Though, it helps to imagine that as a Schlitz soaked hallucination of a failed alpha male.) It’s in this spirit that my opinion of Laser Guided Games’ Revolution Ace (released to Steam March 19, 2014) should be taken. This is a fun game with many great ideas, but I fear it will not be loved by most people.

Revolution  Ace is a shmup. It wears its old school flavor proudly and wants you to remember times when reflexes and judicious use of fire power was the solution to all of life’s problems. While vertically navigating the fields, you will need to contend with two “levels” of play, the air and the ground. Once you get far enough in, it can be a pleasant challenge to juggle thinning out the air based enemies while dodging attacks launched from the ground. Your ground and air based attacks are each mapped to a different button, so its simple to switch where you want your damage to go.

For a shmup, this is a long one, too. I lost track of the amount of levels, but it took me about two and a half hours to make my way through the main campaign, not counting restarts. There is some copy-and-paste with the levels and enemy patterns, but this is typically shored up with more happening at the same time. You will also see early level end bosses step over to become a mid-level boss later in the game.

The repetition could become annoying, except for the benefit of the experience point system. Much like an RPG, you gain experience at the end of each level to level up. Most times when you level up, you gain something. More weapons and equipment may unlock to customize your jet, you might gain a new slot to put them in, or even gain a perk. Perks range from faster firing speed, higher damage, or defensive boosts. This creates an addictive cycle as you unlock some new item and decide to try it out before calling it a day. Of course, after trying it out, you get something else that you just want to use. Good stuff.

There is also a rather ingenious competitive  multiplayer mode. Both players play split screen, taking on the same level at the same time going for the higher score. Different actions and power ups used can make life worse for the other player, creating a great back and forth. If no one is available to play when you are, you can also make use of Battle Chains mode. There, you go though a level and upload your play for others to take. The things that you would have done to the second player during multiplayer will transfer to the taker. That person can then best the challenge and upload the response to the original player. I was able to get into a couple of these chains with strangers and I love this mode.

It helps that I don't suck at it.
It helps that I don’t suck at it.

Unfortunately, these great ideas are hamstrung by some issues. The graphics are terrible. While built on the Unreal Engine, the look is low-res and amateurish.  I did spend some time to make sure all of the settings were set as high as they can go, but I could never get to a level that I would find acceptable for a new release game. Despite this, the frame rate chugs at times. This didn’t only seem to happen when the action was amped up, either. In fact, there seemed to be no rhyme or reason as to when this would happen. The ship and enemy models are also dull, but I noticed this less when the I was busy destroying them. Still, a building with some guns on top should not be a boss. The final boss was particularly underwhelming. After the long campaign, you will not get an epic end battle.

The sound is also unremarkable. While the music is not atrocious, I could only describe it as “kind of there.” Even after the five hours total I put in, I cannot remember one song as I type this. The explosions and weapon effects are rather “meh,” as well. They simply lacked punch, even after I pulled out my powered headphones and turned the bass all of the way up.

Then I had to clean fish out of my ears. Oh stop complaining, you're reading this.
Then I had to clean fish out of my ears. Oh stop complaining, you’re reading this.

 

While inconsequential, I should briefly mention the story. I didn’t even know there would be one except that the intro explanation popped up at the beginning of the fifth or sixth stage, an odd choice of placement to be sure. Some machines have become violent towards humans and can only be defeated by pilots using jets that do not have A.I. installed. Again, nothing too important.

Despite all of these complaints, I truly enjoyed Revolution Ace. It’s been a while since I have played a shmup that took so many ideas, mixed them this well, and not become a confusing mess. It is also hampered with a number of flaws, though. Like Spider-man 3, I can’t decide if this is good with numerous bad parts or bad with numerous good parts. It is worth checking out, though.

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