By Brad Cook
The other team just scored and less than a minute remains in the game. Your side is down by four points. You sprint toward the center of the arena, where a new ball is going to drop. A well-timed leap gives you possession with your magno-beam and you fire the ball in the direction of a teammate, who passes it to another one close to the goal.
The opposition is playing solid defense, however, and a scrum breaks out. You join the fray, furiously firing rockets that disrupt the other teams attempts to get the ball out of their end. As the final seconds tick down, you gain control and jump, firing a rocket that propels the ball into the top of the three-tiered goal. It goes in, earning your team five points and a hard-fought victory.
Theres little time to bask in the glory of the win, though: A rematch in a new map begins loading as you engage in some celebratory team chat. 2 of 3? someone asks. Sounds good to your team. The next game starts in 10, 9, 8, 7
Your Gaming Network
After the Rokkitball matches end, check out the other four games offered by InstantAction on the Mac: the first-person shooter Fallen Empire: Legions; the action platformer Marble Blast Online; the third-person shooter ThinkTanks; and the retro arcade shoot-em-up ZAP! (Zero All Productivity). You can lead games, join sessions hosted by others, maintain a friends list and trade messages with buddies, and more.
If you want to play solo, Marble Blast offers a single-player option, while ThinkTanks, Rokkitball, and ZAP! allow you to compete against computer-controlled opponents, known as bots. Its a good idea to hone your skills offline before taking on human opponents over the Internet. If you think you have what it takes, apply to join the Elite Legions League.
Before you embark on your InstantAction career, load some ActionTokens in your account so you can buy customized avatars, Rokkitball uniforms, new ThinkTanks, new marbles, and more. The virtual shelves are always being restocked with additional items, so stop by often.
Sports and Rockets: The Perfect Combination
Rokkitball is a futuristic arena sport in which two teams fight for control of a ball that they must get into one of the other sides goals the harder a goal is to reach, the more points you score. Use your magno-beam to take possession, but dont hold on too long: your energy will run out, and youll give the other team an opportunity to fire rockets and knock you aside. If an opposing player directly strikes you with a rocket, theyll zap your power and leave you defenseless.
You can use rockets to propel the ball toward teammates or one of the goals combine that action with a jump (jump again while in mid-air to go even higher) to reach an arenas more remote areas. The best Rokkitball players emphasize teamwork, always looking for the best place to fire the ball, rather than thinking they can score all the points on their own.
Where Were Going, We Dont Need to Walk
Rockets also figure prominently in Fallen Empire: Legions, a classic first-person shooter that can be played from a third-person perspective too. It differs from similar games in its inclusion of jetpacks, which allow you to not only fly but control your movement in six directions. If youve ever wanted to trade weapons fire with opponents while airborne, now you can.
Any time you get your speed up to 88 MPH (watch for the words Velocity Warning to appear), you can activate Overdrive and not only rapidly accelerate but also make quick turns. (Perhaps a later revision will add a DeLorean and the ability to travel through time.) The only catch is that Overdrive saps your health while its in use.
Sentinels, however, can kick in Overdrive any time they want, with the downside that they cant turn it off until its been in use for at least two seconds theyre also slower than other players in general. In addition, this loadout features strong armor and a complement of three weapons: upgraded chaingun and grenade launcher, along with the standard rocket launcher. (Many games of this type, such as Battlefield 2142, refer to classes you can play as Legions uses the term loadout instead.)
Other loadouts to choose from include: Gunner, a default class thats well-rounded and carries a chaingun, rocket launcher, and grenade launcher; Sniper, who comes with a laser rifle and a grenade launcher; Chaingun, Sniper, and Rocket Launcher Specialists, who carry upgraded versions of their preferred weapons, along with a standard-issue secondary weapon (rocket launcher for the first and chaingun for the other two); and Outrider, who carries a chaingun and rocket launcher and can move faster in Overdrive and lose less health while using it.
Marble Blast Online takes the popular solo game into the multiplayer world, where you compete against opponents to see who can collect the most gems before time runs out. Some gems are worth more than others, particularly the ones found in out-of-the-way spots. Use such power-ups as super speed, super jump, gyrocopter, and others to not only reach high-value gems but also get to them first. In addition, all marbles can at any time activate a blast power that repels their opponents and gives them a little boost.
Your marble doesnt exist in a vacuum, however, so keep basic physics in mind while playing, or you could find yourself falling into oblivion more than once. Its also very easy to overshoot the next group of gems if you roll toward them with help from a super speed power-up and dont slow down in time. While youre trying to turn around and head in the right direction, your opponents will be scooping up all the gems. If that happens, you might want to cut your losses and wait for the arrows that point toward the next group of gems, so you can get a head start.
Physics also play a role in ThinkTanks, where you can easily roll off a cliff or overshoot your target after using a boost or jump pad. Originally developed in the spirit of the original Atari 2600 Combat game, ThinkTanks takes place on a planet where aliens have inserted soldiers brains in glass jars stuck atop armored vehicles. Choose from six tanks from agile but weak-armored Trout to lumbering but powerful Destrozar to well-rounded Boxeador and prepare to blast the opposition on one of 12 maps.
Battle and team battle modes offer the ThinkTanks equivalents of deathmatch and team deathmatch. Every time you die in one of those, youll lose a point, although scores can never dip below zero. In scrum and team scrum modes, find the scrumball and drive it into the goal to score a point. Bump into a teammate to pass or receive the scrumball; use the same technique when you want to steal it. No matter which mode you play, health and ammunition power-ups will give you an edge against the competition.
Zero Out the Opposition
The spirit of Atari also lives in ZAP!, which can trace its lineage back to the 2600 game Space War (also known as Space Combat). All of its modes are team-based:
- Capture the Flag: Similar to the mode found in many first-person shooters, except your team only earns a point for bringing back the oppositions flag if your flag is still at home.
- Zone Control: When a team member carrying the flag enters a zone, it turns to your teams color. Capture all zones to win.
- Retrieve: Teams compete to bring all the flags back to their home base.
- Bust In: Similar to Zone Control, except multiple flags are involved.
- Hunters: Each player starts the game carrying a flag. The goal is to shoot another ship and make it drop its flag, which you can grab. Collect as many flags as possible and deliver them to the Nexus, where you earn points for the number carried.
- Zapmatch: ZAP!s version of deathmatch.
Each ship carries a primary weapon, from blasters to mines, as well as a secondary power (speed boost, shield, repair self and teammates, sensor enhancement, and invisibility cloak) that can be activated with the right mouse button. Coordination is key in team-based matches, where the action is fast and furious.
So Many Options
So what will it be today? The sport of the future? Some shoot-em-up action with roots in the early days of home videogames? A first-person shooter with a twist? A rolling platformer? All of the above? The choice is yours, so head over to InstantAction.com just dont forget to mix in a healthy dose of your enthusiasm.