Choplifter HD Review

Choplifter HD (Available on Xbox Live Arcade and PlayStation Network)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1
Genre: Action
Publisher: InXile Entertainment
Developer: InXile Entertainment
Release Date: January 11th, 2012

Parent Talk: The ESRB rates Choplifter HD T for teen because of strong language, and blood.  Don’t expect anything too graphic here.  The action is zoomed quite far away so even though you’re shooting down targets with your helicopter you never see too many details.

Plays Like: The original Choplifter, and many similar fly and rescue type games.  Anyone growing up in the early eighties will know exactly what to expect.  For everyone else, imagine a 2D shooter where you have to land your helicopter to rescue prisoners of war, and then fly them back to base.

Review Basis: Finished the campaign on the Xbox Live Arcade version.

Choplifter was one of the early great computer games, and one of only a handful of titles, which saw release on the Apple II before being ported to arcades.  The original was released way back in 1982 and is considered one of the greatest arcade-style games ever created.  It has been ported to countless systems over the years and now InXile Entertainment are taking a crack at bringing this classic back for an entirely new generation of gamers to enjoy.  Let’s see how well they’ve done.

Here's a look at the very first Choplifter for the Apple II

The Great:

If you’re looking for a perfect way to kill five minutes, or half an hour, this is a game for you.  Choplifter HD offers enough strategy and good old-fashioned shooter/rescue gameplay to challenge even the most hardened gamer.

Here it is today

The Good:

+ Same classic gameplay.  Fly your chopper out to rescue P.O.W.s while taking out enemies to your right, left and center of the screen using both the mini-gun and rockets.  Don’t forget to hurry back to base, as soldiers can die on-route if they’re wounded.

+ Strategy remains a key component.  While taking out enemies and rescuing troops, you constantly have to keep an eye on your helicopter’s health and fuel.  If either one gets too low, it may be game over before you know it.

+ Well tuned controls.  Using the L1/LB and R1/RB you can easily switch the chopper’s direction from left, to right and finally to face the screen.  That’s used primarily to take out enemies on rooftops in the foreground.  The right analog stick allows you to aim at your enemies and the R2/RT uses the mini-gun while the L2/LT fires rockets.

+ Aim for a five-star rating.  Quickly rescue the soldiers, take out as many enemies as you can and locate the reporter in each stage to net a perfect score.  The greater the score, the quicker you can unlock new helicopters and more advanced stages.

+ Difficulty increases at a steady pace.  While the early levels may offer little challenge, later on players will have to contend with a far greater number of enemies, more fuel restrictions and having to rescue an insane number of P.O.W.s.  If you think you can cakewalk this one, think again.

+ Surprises like the zombie rescue missions, and Duke Nukem’s appearance seemingly come out of nowhere, but help break up the repetitive nature of the game.

Shooting target in the foreground takes some getting used to

The So-So:

+/- Leaderboards is a nice way to show off your skills, but the lack of an offline or online multiplayer mode hurts.

+/- The audio visual presentation is a bit of a mixed bag.  The graphics look detailed from far, but when the camera zooms too close things get a little blurry.  The audio packs a punch in terms of sound effects and a nice soundtrack, but the back and forth banter of the pilot and soldiers doesn’t come across as well.

Different locations help keep the action fresh

The Bad:

– Protecting soldiers as they make their way into the chopper can be a nightmare.  You must ensure the area is secure before landing because otherwise you essentially become a sitting target, as you can’t move the chopper while on-ground.  While realistic, it can be very frustrating.

– The price is a little steep.  1,200 Microsoft Points is essentially $15, which is a lot of money for a quick arcade game like.  Sure production values count for something, but other arcade games feature robust online multiplayer modes, etc.   I miss the days of 600 MSP games.

Everything is better with zombies in it, right?

The Ugly:

Slam into a building with a full payload of soldiers for a laugh as the ragdoll physics go all berserk.  Suddenly you have a chopper full of Kermit the frog.

You've got Duke Nukem in my Choplifter!

The Lowdown:

If you’re looking for a fun diversion Choplifter HD offers up a nice challenge and a great throwback for fans of the old computer game.  Those new to the franchise will have to weigh their options.  At 1,200 Microsoft Points this isn’t a cheap game, and the lack of any multiplayer is a real missed opportunity.  Fun counts for something though, and this one offers enough to keep you coming back for more.

Average Score Scale: 7 (+/- 0.5) out of 10

Personal Final Score: 7/10 (Neutral)

Reason for +0.5 Inflation: If you were a hardcore Choplifter fan back in the day.  This one has enough “new” to keep you hooked for weeks.

Reason for -0.5 Deflation: If you find the price of admission a little too high for the limited content offered.

2 thoughts on “Choplifter HD Review”

  1. Thanks for the review guys, it seems based on your review ,a great game, iam really interested and i will get it as soon as it hits a price drop, i think sooner rather than later it will appear on the gold weekly saving offers.

  2. Yeah I’m sure it will. The prices of these new releases are just a bit too high. I remember back when the 360 first hit when prices were far more reasonable, but suddenly everyone wants to make a quick buck. Compare this to what’s offered on the App Store and the prices really seem exaggerated. You can find top tier quality games for $1!

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