Game Reviews

Pocket Fleet Multiplayer

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Pocket Fleet Multiplayer

Notwithstanding my susceptibility to M&Ms-based bribery, I've always thought of myself as pretty incorruptible, so signing up with the Incorruptus forces in online space battler Pocket Fleet Multiplayer seemed like the right move.

I needn't have bothered, though, as whether you choose to be the goodies or the baddies (in this case the nefarious sounding Omnitron), nobody is actually scrapping against each other.

The player vs player (PvP) action supposedly at the core of Pocket Fleet Multiplayer just isn't getting a look in, as everyone perpetually plays in co-op to take down the AI-controlled Aerie.

Admittedly, it's a lovely sight to see humans from across the globe uniting to battle a common foe, but you can't help but wonder why the PvP (normally the beating heart of such games) isn't getting a look-in.

My engines are lagging

That's not just a sub-heading - it's actually something my pilot said a lot, and I could never tell whether he was referring to actual ship damage or the game's servers struggling to keep up with the action.

It's heartening to find so many games being played, but with only a dozen people allowed to play each match at a time you'd think the game would run like the wind. Instead, despite the developer stressing that more servers have been added on the Google Play blurb, smooth control of your lone fighter is not something you can currently expect.

Matches I started myself, in a desperate bid to try out the PvP modes rather than another co-op assault, fared better, but that's probably because only a couple of people would ever join in - often leaving a minute later.

It's a shame, as at its core Pocket Fleet Multiplayer is a solid little mobile blaster that feels like a cross between a top-down Galaxy on Fire and Osmos.

Your initially tiny ship is propelled forward by firing its thrusters with an icon on the left, with weapons - either pea shooter lasers or deadly homing missiles - handled with tap buttons on the right. Steering is handled by tilting and, while this is workable, things can get pretty dizzying once the action heats up.

Capital idea

Each victory earns you in-game cash that can be converted into ship or weapon upgrades, although you'll have to play a heck of a lot to actually buy anything powerful. Optional, rather pricey, IAPs are the best way to get ahead in the arms race, but I encountered precious few people who'd got much beyond the basic Knight vessel.

It's likely that this is caused by the community's lack of interest in the Deathmatch, Team Deathmatch, and other PvP modes. Paying to win doesn't have the same allure when everyone is fighting against the same enemy - it's more fun to just potter around picking off rogue ships before joining the final assault on the Aries shipyard (a much larger, Capital-like vessel).

In its current state, Pocket Fleet Multiplayer will give you an afternoon of entertainment out of the mostly mindless, sharp-looking laser combat on offer, but unless the PvP starts getting more of a look in you can expect players to start drifting out of the game's orbit soon.

Pocket Fleet Multiplayer

Playing with others in this real-time space battler is fun for a while, but the lag and the lack of PvP combat conspire to strand this one in orbit
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo