Monday, April 23, 2012

Review - Rocket Birds: Hardboiled Chicken | Cooked just right

Rocket Birds: Hardboiled Chicken
Developer: Ratloop Asia
Genre: Sidescroller Shooter
Platforms: PS3 (PSN)
Released: Oct 18th 2011

Penguins. Penguins are cute. So cute you’ll obey their every command and acknowledge their greatness as the superior race that ever walked this pla- STOP IT RIGHT THERE! STAND UP AND FIGHT! DO NOT LET THE PENGUINS MANIPULATE YOU! YOU ARE FREE! GO AGAINST THEIR TYRANNY AND PROVE TO THEM THAT YOU ARE ….chickens.

Well, that pretty much explains what you’re up against in Ratloop Asia’s sidescrolling indie shooter, Rocket Birds: Hard Boiled Chicken. Available in PSN as a downloadable title.

As I’ve pointed out more than enough, you play as a badass gun-toting and rocket flying chicken by the name of ..Hardboiled Chicken in the game’s singleplayer campaign. As the story goes, the evil penguin nation (think Nazis + Soviet influences) has waged war all over the world and it’s up to Hardboiled to save the day.

The core game itself is a sidescroller with beautifully animated 2d sprites battling out in 3d backgrounds. Hardboiled starts the game off with a basic handgun and gains different types of weapons as the game progresses, such as assault rifles, shotguns, grenades and a neat mind-control bug which I will explain later. Unlike regular shooters where the camera follows your character until the end of the level, each level in RB:HC cuts into several different scenes or rooms once you move Hardboiled to the edge of the screen. It’s a nice touch rather than going on a long trip through repetitive backgrounds.

Aside from shooting the hell out of them evil penguins, RB:HC also provides various types of puzzles to get Hardboiled from one area of the level to the other. These puzzles include keycard collecting, crate pushing and the mind-control bugs. Trust me, the keycard collection and crate pushing in this game is not as tedious as one might think but rather, adds a bit more variety to gameplay before you continue your path of serious penguin ass kicking. The mind-control bugs are one of my favorite weapons in this game. The bug itself is a throwable weapon and upon making contact with an enemy soldier, you’re able to control him to unlock certain doors, solve puzzles and backstab (read: shoot the shit out of) his own teammates to save up on your own ammo. After you’re done with his services, you can command him to shoot himself in the head. Don’t feel bad for the penguin, he didn’t even have his own nametag.

Combat in RB:HC is what you’d expect from a shooter. The penguins come from all sides and depending on which type of penguin you’re fighting against, they’ll take some hits before dying. The various enemy types you’ll encounter include regular soldiers, clones, shielded brutes and elite penguins. At certain points of the game, the penguins will come in waves like a mini horde mode which you must fend off every single living penguin that’s thrown at you. Aside from being on foot most of the time, the game will switch to Rocket mode with Hardboiled sporting his trusty jetpack to shoot penguins out from the sky.

Pretty poetic, huh? Chickens and penguins using jetpacks? Hahah- you don’t get it? ..chickens and penguins? THEY CAN’T FLY, YOU FOOLS.

Back to the review, ammo in this game can be a bit tight depending on how you play. If you go all trigger happy, expect to die oftenly. With different types of enemies and also the mini horde sections, the game encourages you to budget your ammo while fighting. Penguins do drop ammo from time to time but usually in small portions. Another bummer is that both the penguins and Hardboiled will fling into a juggle in air once shot and will stay juggled without touching the ground if shot non-stop (even after they’re dead). The major problem with this is when facing multiple enemies in a horde, your bullets will hit the flying bodies rather than hitting the intended enemy who’ve set their sights set on you. I admit, I died multiple times during these horde sections until I got my tactics right. Kindly enough, the game has a nifty auto-save and checkpoint system where it saves your progress before you move on to the next section of the level and also (the best part) at the end of each wave during horde sections.

Aside from the single player campaign, you get to go through the game in the offline co-op mode. So make sure you have a second controller ..and a friend. Co-op mode is practically an alternate storytelling of the single-player’s story. Instead of playing as Hardboiled Chicken, player 1 and player 2 get to select from various Chicken characters as their avatars. Co-op’s gameplay is also slightly different as it includes teamwork elements such as jumping on top of your partner to form a two-chicken fighting machine. Your partner can control the movement and jumping while shooting forward enemies and you can assist your partner by shooting forward or backward. While still being on top of your partner, the both of you can reach to higher ledges too. This achieved by your partner jumping and you hanging on a ledge and pulling the both of you up. Puzzles are also modified for co-op by having two players being in different sections of the screen to unlock doors for each other and so on. The game’s difficulty isn’t generous either in co-op mode as both players are required to budget their ammo and survive hordes of penguins. The bummer is that when one player dies, you’ve pretty much lost that level. Again, be thankful for the awesome auto-save and checkpoint system.

As for the story, well, it’s pretty much laid down on the table for you to see with the whole good vs evil, fight for liberty and also some backstory of Hardboiled Chicken himself. I won’t spoil much on this but I do want to point out the well written humour that comes along with the story which does well to make the gamer laugh along. Even at times when you least expect it too. These include hilarious dialogues between the penguins, Hardboiled’s own one-liners and even penguins nodding along the game’s soundtrack. There was one scene, after finishing up a crate puzzle, a passerby penguin complemented on how clean and professional the way the crates were stacked together.

On to the music! Definitely my favorite element from this game. THE SOUNDTRACK IS AWESOME. Aside from the regular music playing in the background, cutscenes and combat music are done by an Alternative Rock band called New World Revolution (N.W.R.). Their songs fits nicely with the game’s theme (minus the chickens and penguins reference). The soundtrack and the band is worth checking out. Nuff said.. pretty short on the music and sound section right? lol

All in all, RB:HC is definitely an awesome and solid indie shooter with a great soundtrack. The single-player campaign is short, but ass-kickingly sweet. Then again, theres always co-op and bonus collectibles to keep you coming back for more. RB:HC is worth the purchase and download. If you’re still unsure, you can always check out the demo first.

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