Review: Choplifter HD
The PlayStation Network is no stranger to HD remakes. Some of these reworkings have been shaped into diamonds while others turned out to be plain old coal. Choplifter HD falls somewhere in between. inXile has done a fine job of dusting off an antique, making it shine as much as it possibly can. Unfortunately, Choplifter wasn’t a particularly entertaining game to begin with; its core gameplay objective did not age well. What I found in Choplifter HD was a clean, humorous, graphically adept game. What I couldn’t find after hours upon hours of searching, however, was the fun.
The main objective of Choplifter HD is to fly your helicopter across a 2D plane, pick up passengers, then fly back to your helipad and drop them off. Enemies are sprinkled about the landscapes, attempting to black hawk down you by any means necessary. Some enemies are planted in the foreground. To deal with them, you’ll have to turn your vehicle towards the screen by pressing R1 or L1. These buttons also help you to turn around so that you can fly forwards in either direction. It’s less confusing than it sounds. The controls are a bit cumbersome, but once mastered allow you to play like the badass rescue chopper you’re portraying. The introductory tutorials do a good job of familiarizing the player with the game’s controls and obstacles. Throughout the game, different enemy types are introduced. The game supplies an adequate amount of information on how to avoid or destroy everything from missile-shooting jets to background-lurking tanks. As I mentioned before, Choplifter HD is presented in a competent manner. Its core detracting element, and it’s a big one, is its laborious, later frustrating gameplay.
Have you seen the Planet Fitness commercial where a meathead is made fun of because all he can do is lift things up and put them down? If not, take a gander. To be fair, Choplifter offers more than the lunk, but the main point of the game is literally to pick people up and put them down; such a repetetive task doesn’t take long to grow stale. There are a few bits of fun to be found in the Choplifter HD recipe. For instance, the dialogue actually succeeds in being humorous in most cases. The banter between the pilot and his buddy is funny. If you’re low on fuel, the co-pilot sometimes spouts, “Unless this tincan runs on urine, we’re in deep doodoo!” and the inevitable “Get to tha choppa!!!” is done with surprising finesse. When you rescue some of the civilians, they say things like, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship!” On the other hand, a couple of the lines hit home in another way. “This is so much fun!” and “Do you ever get tired of rescuing people?” had me chuckling because no, this is not so much fun, and yes, I do get tired of rescuing people. My favorite part of Choplifter HD is the dialogue, but perhaps that’s because it distracted me from the frustrations of playing the game.
Choplifter HD looks good. Your helicopter swoops toward the background or foreground on some maps, an effect that looks great. The thing is, a game can’t rely on its looks alone. Nor can it rely on its decent controls, its funny dialogue, or its Duke Nukem cameo. Taxiing is not easy to sell in video games. There needs to be another shtick that makes the monotonous activity bearable. Gravity Crash had trippy graphics and a map editor. Landit Bandit had a 3D world, split-screen co-op, and interesting buddy character mechanics. Crazy Taxi is a frenetic joyride that’s as much of a strategic racer as it is a taxi game. Choplifter HD has enemies in the foreground. In the later missions, the combination of enemies (mortars, tanks, jets, jeeps, RPG launchers, AA guns, and EMP snipers all at once) pushes the game over the line of difficult and into the land of vexing. There are unlockable choppers and higher difficulty levels to play the game with, but I can’t imagine revisiting some of the later missions. The most fun I had playing Choplifter HD is when I played the escape missions, which had me scrambling from one end of the map to the other, not worrying about picking up any passengers. I wish Choplifter was a better game, I really do. It’s not bad, it’s just not fun.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Funny dialogue
- Looks good
What I Dislike:
- Frustrating gameplay
- Boring gameplay