Choplifter HD Review

Choplifter HD retains the core elements of its forebears, but the experience is dampened by some missteps in tone and difficulty.

A product of the early 1980s, the acclaimed Choplifter name has been out of action for quite some time. This downloadable HD reprisal retains many core elements of the series and stays true to its classic formula, but it's also saddled by some tonal issues, as well as uneven swings in difficulty and pacing.

This update of Choplifter retains the core gameplay for which the series is known. As a pilot commandeering an armed rescue helicopter, your primary goal is to swoop down to rescue stranded hostages, defend against a tide of enemy gunfire and rockets, and then safely deliver the hostages back to your starting base. The game is essentially a side-scroller, and firing back at the swaths of combatant ground troops, tanks, and AA guns is akin to a twin-stick shooter with lock-on targeting. You can orient your helicopter's viewing angle to the left, right, or foreground, the latter of which is usually used to take out bothersome rocket-propelled grenade troops perched on rooftops. Not only do you have to deal with the enemy attacking you from several angles, but you also have to be cautious of your helicopter's fuel supply and health. There are fuel stops dotted at certain points in each level that will restock your chopper should you start running low. Or you can alternatively head back to base to replenish your helicopter's health and munitions, as well as its fuel supplies.

Avoiding hostage deaths, taking out foes, and being expeditious in your rescue efforts will net you higher scores and more stars. Your performance post-mission is scored and rated on a five-star scale, and the more stars you gain per mission, the sooner you gain access to upgraded helicopters. Better helicopters grant perks like stronger firepower and armor, as well as room to ferry more hostages at once. Prioritizing your rescue efforts and finding the most efficient pattern to take during a mission is a key consideration, as is reattempting different scenarios to work out the least-hazardous approach in the shortest amount of time. Alongside other factors, such as your ability to boost (at the expense of more fuel consumption) and learning to be conservative with your limited rocket use, the game preserves the distinctly tactical nature of its forebears in spite of its simplicity.

However, problems begin to arise as you progress further into the game's missions. For instance, as you advance, you're forced to contend with greater numbers of targets simultaneously, and the aiming isn't quick and precise enough to let you adequately deal with these onslaughts. The most debilitating pitfall is that, by necessity, you tend to find yourself meandering in midair and taking a barrage of costly hits as you slow down to deal with all the immediate threats. This ultimately destroys the game's momentum; you will eventually hit a wall with the difficulty that robs you of all desire to continue. Overcoming these predicaments is certainly not impossible, but the process of doing so leans more toward delving into unruly masochism as opposed to enjoying a pleasurable and balanced challenge.

Similarly, waiting for hostages to herd themselves into your helicopter after you've swooped down to save them can create some particularly annoying situations. Common sense often dictates that clearing out the surrounding groups of enemies before picking them up is a good way to go, but when a previously unseen tank rolls in from the backdrop and endlessly fires at you offscreen as you vulnerably wait for hostages to pile on, the game starts to feel cheap. On top of all this, each mission comes fully quipped with some seriously cringeworthy "comedic" mid-mission dialogue between the pilot and his passengers. The only real laugh you get from Choplifter HD is watching your helpless passengers rag doll from the side of your helicopter when you accidentally slam into some large obstruction during your attempted rescue. Other mission types, including those that revolve around battling zombie hordes and carrying passengers from one drop-off point to the next, are uninspired and don't mix up the formula in any meaningful way.

Visually, the game looks fine if unremarkable--the lack of detail in the environments becomes all too noticeable when the camera pans in to show you picking up hostages. Leaderboards are a nice addition and complement the game well, highlighting specific scores for each level, although the absence of any adversarial or cooperative online modes is a missed opportunity.

A considerable portion of Choplifter HD's content is diminished by a series of unfair moments that crop up too often to be tolerable. The decent length of its mission catalog is hamstrung by its misunderstanding of uneven difficulty versus genuine challenge, and when it's too easy, it's too dull. Choplifter HD does occasionally get your rotors spinning, especially for fans of the original, but balancing issues and uninspired missions conspire to make it a mediocre experience overall.

The Good
Leaderboards are a good fit
Early levels rekindle what made the originals appealing
The Bad
Poorly balanced difficulty in latter stages
Lame dialogue
Bland mission types fail to mix up the pace
5.5
Mediocre
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13 comments
PayneKiller
PayneKiller

free on psn (PS+), but i think I'll just skip it... my downloads list is getting too loaded now

eze_sl89
eze_sl89

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

MTHoodlum423
MTHoodlum423

I bought it. It is pretty fun, though I used to play the original when I was a little kid. I can see people who didn't grow up on it not liking it much.

DamageIncM
DamageIncM

@GHOSTRyDr Posted Jan 16, 2012 1:22 am PT I also love how this stupid comment system removes your paragraphs, making your posts look like scary giant walls of text. Or worse, run-on sentences. - - - - - - - - - - How the heck do you create paragraphs then?? There's something called "enter", it's on your keyboard, so look it up and use it... That's what I use... See?... Works well!... Except for short sentences, like this...

Ollac
Ollac

Awesome game! Don't listen to this reviewer who probably never played the original and is used to hand-holding like a little girl. If you love the original, you'll love this excellent, challenging, and very well executed remake. I love the original and I am totally enjoying this one.

Subterfuge
Subterfuge

I also love how this stupid comment system removes your paragraphs, making your posts look like scary giant walls of text. Or worse, run-on sentences. By the way, the game is on sale at Steam for $12.74 right now. (15% off)

Subterfuge
Subterfuge

I actually find this game to be pretty good. I'm not too far into it, but I was entertained enough by the trial to go ahead and purchase it. I always judge an arcade game's worthiness by how the trial made me feel. If the trial ends and I say "oh man, I was having a good time" or "Just a little more!" then I judge it as a pretty good game demanding some serious consideration of purchase. On the other hand, if I'm playing a trial and I either can't wait for it to end (i.e "oh my god this sucks, I hope it ends soon.") or I can't even make it to the end due to suckiness, difficulty or just plain boredom, then I usually judge those games as not being worthy of purchase. The only exception to this rule is some of the more difficult games that also happen to be good, like Alien Hominid HD, BloodRayne: Betrayal, Trials HD, or The Dishwasher. That being said, I enjoyed Choplifter HD's trial, and played through it several times before deciding to buy it. I do agree that 1200pts is a bit steep, but we must also keep in mind that this price includes the first DLC pack for free.

iluvOP
iluvOP

Hmm I was sort of looking forward to this game since it looked fun, but I guess it wont be too bad on sales. I could use a game like this after Dark souls and so on.

y3ivan
y3ivan

1200msp? i rather buy AMY it only cost 800msp.

DrMatta
DrMatta

1200 msp is ridiculous.

SnakeEyesX80
SnakeEyesX80

I don't think it's worth $15, but I'll pick it up when it's on sale in a few months for 240-400 msp.

ecoolen
ecoolen

Too bad :( I used to like this game..

Choplifter HD More Info

  • Released
    • Ouya
    • PC
    • + 2 more
    • PlayStation 3
    • Xbox 360
    Choplifter HD is the 21st-century debut of this classic franchise.
    6.3
    Average User RatingOut of 61 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Choplifter HD
    Developed by:
    InXile Entertainment
    Published by:
    InXile Entertainment
    Genres:
    2D, Action, Shooter
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms
    Alcohol Reference, Blood, Language, Mild Suggestive Themes, Violence