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Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review

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On 10/22/2011 at 12:00 PM by Jesse Miller

This fowl adventure has more in common with Rambo than Chicken Run.

For those that like a little Animal Farm in their 2D puzzle platformers.

Hard Boiled Chicken sure is badass.  He’s the kind of bird that walks quietly and carries a big stick, stoically raining deadly lead down upon his flightless penguin oppressors.  He has a jetpack and has sent more of our winged friends to the great bird bath in the sky than Colonel Sanders.  Did I mention that he has a freakin’ jetpack?!  Yeah, he’s a pretty awesome chicken, which is why it’s a shame that his game never quite gets him to the levels that his sweet jet pack does.

Hard Boiled Chicken has undertaken the indomitable task of liberating the city of Albatropolis from the prattling idiot penguin, Putzki and his army of flightless underlings.  Hard Boiled’s back story is told through dialogue-free cut scenes that play like micro music videos with tunes furnished by The Brand New World that are surprisingly fitting with the game’s strange tone.  While there are only a couple of tracks in the game, Rocketbirds: HBC avoids the pitfalls of recent PSN exclusive Sideway: New York by limiting the playing of these songs to cut scenes and other key moments in the game; saving them from getting too repetitive.

Rocketbirds: HBC doesn’t differ much from standard 2D side scrolling puzzle platformers.  Gun battles are generally limited to hallways and usually consist of a handful of enemies trying to flank you.  While gunning down one or two enemies on screen is generally rather simple, things can get a little dicey later on when the game throws a greater variety of enemy types at you to deal with.  Most enemies will carry a standard machine gun, but as you progress you’ll run into massive penguins equipped with billy clubs and riot shields and tough birds sporting rocket launchers that can take you out with a single blow.  There is an element of strategy when picking which birds to target first, but it all boils down to getting everyone in front of you.  It would have been nice if there was a little more challenge involved, but as it stands the only time you’re likely to go down in a firefight is when you’re caught in the middle of a bullet storm.

Weapons selection is standard.  You have your pistol, shotgun, machine gun, AK-47 and grenades, but one exception that adds an interesting twist to the gameplay is a bug bomb that secretes a toxin that allows you to mind control the infected enemy.  I can’t emphasize enough how satisfying it is to walk among the enemy and then surprise them by mowing them down.  As fun as this is, there is one disturbing point with this ability that may unsettle a few gamers out there.  When you’re done with your bug bombed penguin puppet the only way to go back to controlling Hard Boiled is to shoot yourself in the head.  Yup, each enemy type comes equipped with an animation showing them pull out a pistol, place it to their temple and pull the trigger.  I’m not sure how I personally felt about this small aspect, but I was shocked the first time it happened.

Breaking up the standard levels are jet pack levels in which Hard Boiled takes part in aerial combat before boarding a massive airship.  I’m a fan of jet packs and Hard Boiled actually controls rather well in these segments, but unfortunately this is where the game really stumbles.  Battles take place in massive spaces, which is fine, but at times the camera zooms way out, making it difficult to discern the difference between Hard Boiled, the enemy fighters, and missiles.  There were multiple times when I accidently crashed headlong into a missile because I thought it was a jet packing penguin. 

What’s also frustrating is that when you’re down to only a couple of enemies left, it can be difficult to locate them as they buzz around off screen.  There’s an indicator that will appear to show you what direction they are, but this only shows up when you’re close and disappears when you put a bit of distance between yourself and them.  Luckily there are only a few jet pack segments as they disrupt the flow of an otherwise well paced game.

Rocketbirds: HBC is not a bad game, it’s actually quite good.  It has a fantastic and unique graphical presentation.  You can tell that the developers put a lot of love into how this game looked and animated.  While cliché, the story is engaging because the bird-centric world is grounded in real life historical allusions to communist Russia.  What results can be best described as a lower brow version of Animal Farm – absurd to be sure, but still thoughtful enough to be taken seriously.

It's also short--very short, in fact.  I was able to conquer the single player campaign in a single playthrough in about three hours.  Fortunately there is a decent amount of replayability built in this downloadable package. Trophy hounds will be glad to hear there are a bevy of collectibles and challenges to meet in order to collect this game’s platinum trophy.  You read that right, Rocketbirds: HBC is one of the few downloadable titles with a Platinum trophy.  Take that, Resident Evil 4 HD!

If you happen to have a friend that is also interested in bird on bird violence you’ll be happy to know that there is a rather robust co-op mode.  Rather than tacking on a generic companion to Hard Boiled’s single player experience, you’ll be taking on the role of one of two smaller birds, each with a weapon layout unique to them.  Some of the levels are recycled, but you’ll traverse them in new and interesting ways – the birds can stand on each other to reach higher ledges, there are multiple switches that will need to be flipped to open doors, etc…

Rocketbirds: HBC looks fantastic, but ultimately looks aren’t everything.  If the same care that was put into the presentation was put into the gun fights and jet pack levels this could have been a standard-setting game.  Instead it’s a game that falls a bit short, but packs enough punch to keep you interested in an inevitable sequel so long as the developers at Ratloop Asia don’t fowl it up any further.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.



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