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Rocketmen: Axis of Evil

Platform(s): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
Genre: Action
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games


PS3/X360 Preview - 'Rocketmen: Axis of Evil'

by Andrew Hayward on April 27, 2007 @ 6:16 a.m. PDT

In this arcade shooter, players will join the heroes of the Alliance of Free Planets in their white-knuckled, frenzied struggle to free the Solar System from the tyrannical grip of the Legion of Terra. Up to four players will be able to cooperatively shoot their way through multiple levels, powering up their weapons, picking up bonuses and laying waste to anything that moves.

Genre: Arcade Shooter
Publisher: Capcom
Developer: A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Games
Release Date: Fall 2007

Capcom releasing downloadable versions of its already existing classics is not even remotely shocking — the company has made a fortune off of the mass production of a handful of key properties, especially Street Fighter and Mega Man. But releasing completely original downloadable games based on external properties? Now that's a new wrinkle.

Two such games were announced at Capcom Gamers Day earlier this month in San Francisco: Talisman and Rocketmen: Axis of Evil. Talisman, an action RPG based on a board game from Games Workshop, was mentioned but not seen, as it is not expected to be available until late this year. Rocketmen, on the other hand, was fully present and playable on an Xbox 360 demo unit.

Slated to hit the Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network Store this fall, Rocketmen: Axis of Evil is an arcade-style sci-fi shooter based on a constructible strategy game (CSG) from WizKids. Now, you might be thinking: What the heck is a CSG? I rarely stray outside of the digital gaming spectrum, so this is new territory for me as well. As with a collectible card game, players buy booster packs, but keeping these cards in mint condition is not a priority. Instead, the cards snap into pieces, which can then be connected together to create rocket ships, space stations, and other similarly themed vehicles and weapons. Once you have a fleet assembled, dice come into play, and I black out from the overwhelming nerdiness.

This is exactly why I'm more likely to drop a few bucks on Axis of Evil than a handful of booster packs. Despite its dice-chucking origins, Rocketmen most resembles an old-school shooter like Smash TV, though it retains a more modern visual style along the lines of X-Men Legends. The Rocketmen license has a very kid-friendly look to it, so it comes as no surprise that blood and gore are nowhere to be found. As with most downloadable titles, Axis of Evil is unlikely to blow anyone away with its visual prowess, but the cartoon-inspired characters and environments are charming in their simplicity, and the finished product should run smoothly in 1080i.

Rocketmen: Axis of Evil's gameplay has a deceivingly simple look to it, but there's a bit more to it than meets the eye. Up to four players can team up to blast away waves of baddies, either locally or via Xbox Live or the PlayStation Network, and character customization will be a key element of the play experience. Players will be able to determine the gender (male or female), race (human, Mercurian, or Venusian), and class (fighter, engineer, or outcast) of their characters, and the selection of such aspects will determine a character's abilities. Additional customization options and abilities can be unlocked by completing quests.

Once you've created the space pirate of your dreams, get ready for an onslaught of firepower. With a dozen (or more) on-screen enemies at any given time, there will be bullets flying around in all directions, including the ones coming from your own sidearm. Aside from the default low-level firearm, Rocketmen is packed with power-ups and special weapons. A power-up might increase the rate of fire to a five-way spread shot, while the special weapons include grenades, rocket launchers, and automatic rifles that unleash an unparalleled barrage of firepower.

While the standard sidearm is controlled with the right analog stick (allowing players to fire in any direction), the special weapons are exclusively mapped to the trigger/shoulder buttons. Multiple special weapons can be held at any time, and the left trigger (in the Xbox 360 version) lets you cycle through available weapons before firing with the right trigger. Based on what was shown at Gamers Day, the gameplay follows a pretty standard progression of battling through seemingly endless waves of similar-looking enemies before facing off against one of the game's many massive bosses. The settings may change (rocky planet terrain and a temple can be seen in the available trailers), but the fast-paced shooting action doesn't seem to vary much from stage to stage.

Rocketmen: Axis of Evil is unlikely to receive accolades for originality, but its simplistic four-player gameplay and emphasis on character customization may make this a popular download for console gamers. Cross-platform play seems entirely unlikely, but considering the popularity of recent downloadable shooters, players should have no issue finding a bevy of teammates on either console. An official price point was not announced at Gamers Day, but the producer working the demo unit at the event confirmed that it would be available this fall for 800 points, or $10.

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