Get to the chopper!
Some of you may remember the original Choplifter, a title that quite simply tasked you with flying about a helicopter and saving civilians. The team at inXile Entertainment has resurrected this classic and bringing it back to life as download only title. Have they managed to do original Choplifter justice, whilst giving it a new lick of virtual paint? Read on to find out.
Game: Choplifter HD
Developer: inXile Entertainment
Price: 1200 Microsoft Points/$15
(Also available on PlayStation Network)
Baring in mind Choplifter HD is a download only title, its visuals are very impressive. There are variety of well crafted environments to explore throughout the game, complimented by some great looking aircraft and effects. From start to finish, the game looks sharp and crisp, running extremely well, without even a hint of issue. It’s rare to see a HD remake or reimagining to keep the essence of the original intact whilst introducing shiny new visuals, yet inXile Entertainment has done exactly that, and with considerable ease too.
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that Choplifter HD is a title jam packed with audio. Occasionally, you might find yourself overwhelmed by the sound of aircraft and explosions, but it doesn’t do the game to much harm in the long run, as the audio helps gets you well immersed in your virtual surroundings.
In addition to the sound effects, you are guided in your helicopter by a mission handler of sorts, and his voice work is actually very good. He warns you when your helicopter is about to be destroyed, and also updates you on fuel levels. From time to time, he also gives you a stern telling off, especially when you hit the concrete with your helicopter. The voice acting of the survivors is occasionally funny too, you’ll most certainly find yourself laughing at some of the things that they come out with.
Mixing action and strategy together, the gameplay in Choplifter HD is a delight to say the least. The game has plenty of levels for you to navigate through as well, which is mostly a plus, but one disadvantage is that it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes to complete one. Missions are grouped into four categories; Flight Control, Operation Alpha Freedom, Operation Bravo Breakout and Operation Charlie Takedown. Flight Control gives you access to four tutorial levels, where you learn the basic controls and get to grips with the helicopter, guns and all. The controls are incredibly simple, making you always feel in total control of the way the helicopter moves. Being side scrolling game on a 2D plane, the majority of your movements will be horizontal, but you can also move the helicopter vertically to avoid bridges and other obstacles. In relation to the combat, you are able to turn your helicopter and face the screen, so you can conveniently shoot enemy troops and zombies in the foreground who are trying to take you down.
The other missions task you with rescuing as many survivors, and making sure you don’t kill any of them on your way back to safe ground. There are, of course, many enemies that will attempt to get in your way by shooting at you with their rockets and turret guns. If any civilians should die, the score you’re given at the end of a mission will decrease. This score takes into account all the good actions you have performed throughout a mission, and is then converted into rating out of five stars. Although you don’t have to acquire the full five stars in each mission to progress, it is always best to do so, as you will gain access to better helicopters that you might need in the later, much harder missions.
Going back to the main objective, you are shown where the survivors are whilst getting your mission brief. Some survivors will have a timer on their heads, indicating they are injured and need to be taken back to base quickly in order for you to be successful. Little curveballs like this are most welcome, as they help keep you on your toes, and negate missions getting repetitive. Whilst controlling your helicopter, you can also boost forward by the pressing any one of the face buttons. This increases your speed, but also decreases your fuel, introducing a small risk-reward mechanic. If you’re fuel levels drop, you will quickly need to get to a charging station before your helicopter is unable to fly, and get destroyed much faster by enemies.
Even though the missions are quite short, you will find yourself going back to complete them again, just so you can attain the full five star rating. Additional replayability also comes in the form of two higher difficulty levels; hardcore and survival. Hardcore is unlocked by completing the game on the normal difficulty, whereas survival is opened up once you’ve finished the campaign on the hardcore setting. If you enjoy the game, and are a bit of a challenge hunter, then you’re certain to spend a good few hours unlocking both difficulties.
Whilst Choplifter HD might seem a bit expensive, it’s a title filled with enjoyable content, that will do anything but disappoint. Addictive old school gameplay coupled with impressive visuals and sound make Choplifter HD a title you definitely shouldn’t let fly away.