Article first published as PSN Review: Choplifter HD on Blogcritics.
Beyond nostalgia, there is certainly some fun to be had in the tried and true gameplay mechanics of a few remakes of classic games. The Atari 2600 was the multiplayer machine for my family, friends and I in our L.A. area home but, the Apple II was the single player game machine of choice. Los Angeles based, InXile and Konami have brought in original Apple game designer, Dan Gorlin as a design consultant for a remake of the classic 1981 Choplifter game.
In Choplifter HD, players start off as a new pilot on an elite, international helicopter rescue team. As a new pilot, of course you start off with the most basic chopper and earn your way into big, faster, more capable and more deadly aircraft. Combining a semi-plausible reality with some bizarre elements of fantasy and horror, the 30-plus missions range from extracting captured military prisoners to saving survivors of viral outbreaks (ie zombies.) In addition to your primary directive, each mission has bonus objectives that can add to your scoring.
Keeping true to the original, Choplifter HD is a side scrolling Helicopter game with much in common with the iconic Defender in addition to a strong focus on rescuing people. Choplifter HD is a quick action, quick paced Helicopter rescue game. Your side to side movement is controlled with the left analog stick and your guns are aimed with the right stick. The gunplay includes alternate weaponry with a basic and advanced attack (ie. Missilies.)
Fast flying, faster trigger action, while rescuing people in distress pretty much sum up the gameplay for Choplifter HD. No longer entirely 2D, the bumpers allow the player to rotate the helicopter to face towards you and the opposite sideways direction. This is important because targets now will also be in the foreground and can ruin your day if ignored.
The game consists of 3 main campaigns and 1 tutorial campaign. The main campaigns are designed with specific helicopters in mind and you will use that helicopter throughout that campaign. Once you have completed a level you will be able to replay that level with any helicopter you have unlocked. Mission success is measured in a rating of 0 to 5 stars. Rescuing people safely and quickly will determine your 5 rating. This will not only unlock more missions but also unlock more Helicopter upgrades to help you in the battle.
There is a lot to like about Choplifter HD. The gameplay is simple but nuanced and there are a few classic game easter eggs included. Steve from Minecraft can be found on his hidden island and Duke Nukem and Super Meatboy can also be found throughout. With three campaigns, Choplifter HD isn’t terribly lengthy but a free forthcoming DLC pack is promised. Those looking for a tale of an epic struggle probably won’t find much motivation but, those looking for a new fast paced arcade shooter will appreciate the solid gameplay and nods to its roots.
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