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Rocketman: Axis of Evil

It is a common theme in many movies and games. The bad guy, or group, kidnaps a leader of the good group and a hero must save the leader. That is not necessarily a bad thing, as there can be much in the way of action and plot points that can separate one title from another. But can a cliche idea translate into a successful game?

Rocketman: Axis of Evil starts off when the leader of the Alliance of Free Planets is captured by the Axis of Evil on the way to a peace treaty signing. This is where you come into the game as the hero called to save your leader from peril.

You start off by creating your character choosing the various options presented. You can choose your gender, your race and your class. The choices you have for race are Human, Mercurian or Venusian. For classes you can play a Warrior, Engineer or Outcast. However, these choices do little to effect the story or your actual character skills. They only offer changes to the way that your character looks.

Rocketman: Axis of Evil combines elements of an RPG game with a high action shooter. The game allows you to upgrade your character and the various weapons available in the game. Enemies that you kill drop weapon upgrades or materials that you can use to upgrade your character stats between chapters as you progress through the game. It sounds good in theory, and is a staple in RPG games, however the upgrades just don't feel like they actually do anything.

The game features non-stop action as swarms of enemies come at you from all sides. This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Good, in that as you kill the enemies, they drop weapon upgrades and material you use to upgrade your character and improve your stats. However, there are times in the game when you must use the A button to open a door or move past a certain barrier. What makes this difficult is that it isn't just a simple button press. You must repeatedly mash the A button until you can pass. And during this whole time, enemies continue to shoot at you and do damage. If you can tap the button fast enough, you should take minimal damage.

The game does get repetitive as you progress from area to area. All that you really have time to do is to dispatch enough enemies to allow you to continue on. There really is no free roaming that you can take part in due to the camera always moving and pulling you along on its course. This normally would not be a bad thing, however each chapter offers sub-goals that give more experience points. By having the camera pull you along, you miss opportunities to find all the objects to complete the sub-goals.

One of the nice touches to the game was the addition of 4 player co-op available locally or via live. This addition allows you to have friends assist you dispatch the constant stream of enemies that push their way towards you. Working together, you can concentrate on specific areas in each section to take out enemies more quickly so that you can progress through the section with minimal damage. One feature that would have been a good addition would have been to have special power attacks that you gain in the co-op mode. Still, the fact that you can blast your way through the game with multiple friends enhances the title.

Rocketman: Axis of Evil looks and sounds good for an arcade game. The game features cel-shaded graphics that give the game a simple feeling. For the most part, the graphics work well as you blast your way from area to area. The enemies and obstacles are clearly identifiable and look quite good for a smaller budget arcade title. During your run through the game, the constant sound of gunfire and explosions are immersive and add to the general feel of the game. All in all, the game may not have top notch production qualities, but it is one of the better looking arcade games.

I certainly like the depth and variety of the XBox Live Arcade offerings. There are truly some gems in there that are worth their cost in points. Sadly, Rocketman: Axis of Evil falls short of that mark. That is not to say the game is horrible, it just had some issues that cause me hesitation in recommending it. Still, if you are intrigued by the game, that is the beauty of the Live Arcade system, you can try out the demo and in effect rent the title.