The original Flight Control was a runaway success and a fun little game when it hit three years ago, so it’s surprising that it’s taken this long for developer Firemint to create a sequel. Flight Control Rocket gives the original’s simple concept of landing colored planes on like-colored runways a sci-fi twist, and the results overall are challenging and engaging. Unfortunately, too much of the game’s sunny outlook is clouded over by an absurd focus on getting players to spend money.
In Rocket, your goal remains basically the same– guide colored ships to the correct docking station on a giant cruiser. Instead of just dealing with different colors however, the complexity of the game is jacked up immensely thanks to the inclusion of 15 different space craft. Each type of craft has certain characteristics that must be accounted for. Some speed up once you’ve set their path, while some actually split into new craft, leave trails of smaller ships, and other devious actions that make timing all the incoming craft’s approaches more exacting.
There are even smaller carriers that require you to individually launch and guide their ships to safe passage, and the game gets difficult in a hurry. There are two game modes– infinite and odyssey. Infinite is simply a matter of landing crafts until you run out of lives. You’re given three hearts, and every crash takes one away. There is an option to continue, but it costs coins, which are either earned in game (usually by tapping coins when they appear) or by purchasing them outright.
Odyssey mode is level-by-level, with more specific goals and time limits. Either mode is engaging, and you’ll earn robots with special abilities that can help out as well. Bots can help earn extras coins and points, auto-land ships, and perform other cool tasks, but have limited usage overall.
Threading the needle.
The game, when viewed purely by the overall level design is a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it’s a dollar game that acts like a freemium special. So much of the rest of the game is obsessed with trying to get players to buy more coins and other junk that it’s actually distracting. The difficulty seems to ramp up in such a way to provoke players to want to spend money to continue. Technically, you don’t have to spend a dime, but if there’s a way to remind players to do so, the game lamely throws it out there.
Flight Control Rocket is an exercise in extremes. The core gameplay is fun, creative, and well-done, and if you can ignore all the in-app purchasing mechanisms, it’s an excellent distraction. On the other hand, EA did players a disservice by focusing the overall interface and aspects of the design on the game’s store. It just feels cheap and lame, and hurts an otherwise great game.