With most titles from PomPom games concentrating on shooting and score chasing, Rebel switches it up a bit taking away all forms of offense from you. Instead you play as an escaped prisoner of war who is completely defenseless and therefore must rely on the carelessness of your captors to take themselves out.
In each of the three areas (an island, a forest, and a snow covered land) contained in the game you control a freshly escaped prisoner trying to remain on the loose as long as possible. As you play crates will fall on to the area releasing enemies that pursue you. While some enemies like jeeps and buggy’s simply chase you, other enemies like tanks and turrets will constantly be shooting at you not really caring what they hit. To survive you need to take advantage of that, dodging their shots and lining them up so that they take out each other. Having no way to directly attack an enemy is surprisingly a lot more satisfying then having the ability to shoot them yourself. To get those high scores you also need to employ a little strategy when maneuvering since the points you obtain from a kill increases with each successive kill from the same enemy. Trying to keep a certain enemy alive while taking others out is not always the easiest thing to do, especially since enemies start moving and shooting faster and even air strikes will be deployed the longer you survive to try to take you down.
With all enemy fire and chaos you need to be able to move quickly and accurately to survive and to do this the game gives you three different ways to control the action: the directional pad/analog nub, tilting the Vita, or touch screen. I found the analog nub to be the most accurate, allowing me to weave in and out of bullets while also having good control over the speed of the prisoner and is what I used the majority of my time playing. Surprisingly though the tilt controls were also quite good and although not as responsive as the physical controls it offered a fun alternative way to play. On the other hand I found the touch controls kind of awkward and more than a few times I lost because my finger was covering up a portion of the action or the prisoner didn’t move at the right speed I wanted him to. An odd thing I did find with the controls though is when pausing. Naturally I assumed that hitting the start button would pause the game, but you actually have to hit the on-screen pause button that is in the top left of the screen. While not a huge deal it did throw me off a few times.
Dodging enemies isn’t the only thing you can do during a match. As you play gems will start to randomly appear and collecting them will net you points that also increase with each one grabbed. Since a lot of times these gems will be in the line of fire or around enemies it adds a little risk to the formula that I enjoyed. Once a match is completed all the gems you gathered are added to your stash, along with bonus gems based on your point total for the match and the length of time survived. You can then trade these gems to unlock new game modes, power-ups, and different colored jumpsuits (he is a fashionable prisoner after all).
The two unlockable game modes change things up a bit from the standard Survival mode and add some nice variety to the game. Blue Vs. Red has the two different colored units falling on the play field and the only way a unit can be destroyed is from a shot by an enemy of the opposite color. But both colors are not able to fire at the same time and you get to control which can by running through red and blue switches, which makes a nice balancing act of trying to keep both sides equal as to not be overrun and captured. The second unlockable mode is Two Turrets and has, as its name suggests, two turrets on the field. These turrets cannot be destroyed and you must weave in between their shots to take out the many enemies that also populate the area. This mode requires quite a bit of nimbleness to dodge in between shots and is the one I tended to have the most fun with.
Another big part of the game is the power-ups. There are five different power-ups that can be unlocked with each having three different levels of power: Armour that can take a hit for you, Run which allows you to move faster, Booty which adds a group of gems to the battlefield to quickly earn points, Bullet Time which slows down all enemies and bullets on the screen for a limited amount of time, and Decoy which drops a copy of you on the battlefield to draw the enemies attention. Having different power-ups equipped can really change up how you play and with the game allowing you to equip three different ones per match there is a lot of experimentation in trying to find the combination that works best for you.
While Rebel offers quick and fun gameplay there is an area that is a bit lacking. The music in the game is pretty non-existent, only offering a short song in the main menu (that seems to end just when it’s picking up) and a guitar riff when starting and ending a match. All other times you only have sound effects like bullets and footsteps. While these aren’t bad they can be a bit annoying during long play sessions when that is all you hear.
By making you rely on nimble movements and quick thinking instead of accurate shooting Rebel offers a twist on the score chasing genre. With each game only lasting a few minutes it’s very easy to jump in and play a few games and shoot for that higher score. With the unlockable power-ups and modes the game does a great job of keeping you playing at first, though I found that once I had unlocked and played around with everything my want to continue playing waned. Having a way to easily compete with my friends via leaderboards would really keep me coming back and is something I really hope PomPom considers adding in the future. Overall this is one of the most enjoyable games of the PlayStation Mobile launch.
A copy of this game was purchased for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Vita version of the game.
What I Like:
- Lining up enemies to destroy themselves
- Hectic and fast paced gameplay
- Two Turrets Mode
- Power-up system
What I Dislike:
- Very little music
- Lack of leaderboards
- The optional touch controls