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Posted by drew10 on Oct 19, 2011
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken – Ratloop Asia – PSN

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken – Ratloop Asia – PSN

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No you were right the first time, it’s a bird although it is a flightless bird, a chicken. Well that is except this chicken has a rocket-pack and guns, lots of guns.

That inane rambling sets the tone our review for Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, the second in the Rocketbirds series from developers Ratloop. It follows on from the browser based game Rocketbirds: Revolution which received widespread critical acclaim. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a platform adventure which puts you in the role of title character ‘Hardboiled’. ‘Hardboiled’ is a Stallone-like chicken fighting with other birds against the evil Penguin empire who have taken over the city of Albatroplois. Throughout the games fifteen chapters the back-story unfolds through a series of cut-scenes which paint a picture of how the revolution began and ‘Hardboiled’s’ personal journey. And it sets the scene as to why he has set out to find the evil penguin leader Putzki and bring him down.

A side-scrolling platform adventure, RHC dishes up a blend of shooting and puzzling and although the gameplay in these sections remains pretty uniform there is enough variation to keep you entertained. Some puzzles can be challenging but none will ever overly tax your grey matter. The platform sections follow a pretty basic walk here, climb on that, shoot him and repeat formula but somehow never get boring.

Weaponry in RHC is plentiful and comes in the forms of a pistol, UZI, shotgun, MP5, AK47 and M60. You also can get grenades and the quite brilliant ‘brain bugs’ which allow you to take control of enemies. This allows you to perform tasks that would otherwise be out of your reach or clear the way of unsuspecting enemies.

Whilst the majority of the game is played in the 2D platform style it does mix things up when you don your trusty backpack and take to the skies in a shooter section reminiscent of old skool classics like Time Pilot and Combat. These missions tend to come at the end of a level and add some welcome variety to proceedings. They also act as a pre-cursor to landing on an airship for the final part of any level.

Graphically RHC is a mixed bag. The backdrops are nicely designed but generally sparse which feels like a shame considering the games excellent graphical style. They tend to range from exquisite to bland and uninteresting, it is an odd mishmash. The characters are distinctive and well thought out with each different bird having their own unique traits. Although some of the animation, especially the jumping, doesn’t do the excellent character design justice.

The cut-scenes that expand the back-story as the game progresses are excellent and simply ooze with class. The quality and originality of the animation is there for all to see. However, and this resonates throughout the game, why the need for so much cartoon blood? During the game shooting an enemy will leave the surrounding area coated red and the cut-scenes see enemies loosing heads in enormous gushes of blood. Yes I know this game is rated as an adult title but for me it doesn’t quite fit with the overall tone and feels a little unnecessary.

The cut scenes, despite being about a chicken manage to convey real emotion. This is not only due to the quality of the animation but also the games main soundtrack from band New World Revolution. The inclusion of real songs that narrate the cut-scenes and cut in and out of the action really add depth to the overall experience.

The game provides a decent playing time with an impressive feature set that includes, stereoscopic 3D at 720P and 60FPS. But the most impressive feature is the co-op campaign. This is not just simply a two-player version of the main campaign nosiree. This is a full-blown new campaign where you play two budgie commandos as they set about to save the generals daughter. This co-op mode adds a further 10 episodes to the game. The budgies are able to stand on each others shoulders to reach normally unreachable platforms which is a nice little feature.

The main downside of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is its lack of any real challenge. Even on the boss fight sections you are given ample chances to get it right as wave upon wave of bad guys are thrown at you. Die, and you simply continue from that wave and with a new health pack sitting next to you as well. This gives the game the feeling of it being designed with kids in mind yet the inclusion of the blood bumped up the age rating. It doesn’t seem to be able to make up its mind where it should be pitched at.

However, you have to take into account the fact that it costs a mere £7.19 on PSN. It is incredible for the game you get. No you wont get 10 hours of gameplay from it or a major challenge, but what you will get is a fun, good-looking platform shooter with an excellent art style. Its not perfect but then nor are many games that cost six times its retail price.

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is out now!


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