Choplifter HD Review

Check out our video review:

The only Choplifter game I’ve ever played was Choplifter III for the Super Nintendo. I thought it was pretty awesome. Hard, but awesome. I didn’t get very far but I played enough to realize I enjoyed the concept. You fly around in a helicopter, shooting bad guys, and rescuing people. Give this concept an HD facelift and you get Choplifter HD.

As far as I know there’s no real overarching story here. You fly various helicopters through four campaigns containing several missions to obtain stars which unlock more missions, campaigns, and helicopters. The game is a side-scroller and the objectives vary from mission to mission. You’ll need to escape with passengers, destroy targets, kill zombies, transport soldiers, and rescue people. You start most missions from your base and can fly back to it to repair your helicopter, refuel, and refill your rocket ammo. Each mission is timed but once the clock hits zero, it goes into the negatives, which just goes against your score.

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Now I don’t know much about helicopters but there’s plenty to choose from here ranging from little choppers to… I don’t know, bigger and better ones. The helicopters have stats like capacity which determines how many passengers it can hold, armor, fuel, weaponry, and speed. Each helicopter is also equipped with turbo enabling you to fly really fast but it will eat up fuel quicker. Thankfully, most missions have fuel stations where you can land and refuel or you can always fly back to your base. You’ll want to complete missions as fast and as carefully as possible. To help you, each helicopter is equipped with a mini-gun which can overheat but has infinite ammo, and a certain amount of rockets. You can also turn your helicopter to shoot into the foreground. Enemies will come from all over and you’ll be shooting, turning, and dodging attacks like crazy by the end of the game.

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Choplifter HD is really easy to pick up and play. The first campaign only has a few missions which introduce you to the mechanics. The game has this auto-aim lock-on system so as long as you’re aiming in the general direction of an enemy, you’ll always make contact. It works well and I had no issues. You start out against typical enemy soldiers, some with RPGs. Now there’s a few ways to avoid getting hit by enemy rockets. You either shoot them down, out run them, or use turbo to dodge. Ground enemies will respawn if you need to fly back for whatever reason but most of the time you can use turbo to fly right past them unharmed. Soon enough you’ll encounter anti-aircraft guns which can be destroyed but their fire can slow you down mid-air enabling other enemies to attack you easily. Tanks can ruin your day as they fire shots that take significant damage. Once you start dealing with the EMP Snipers, the game difficulty really spikes. If these guys hit you with an EMP shot, the helicopter kind of shuts down for a few seconds but what really sucks is that these snipers are always planted in areas that if they hit you, you’re always in a spot where there’s a tank aimed at you or tons of other enemies. The end of the game has you avoiding jets that fire a swarm of missiles and these are probably the cheapest enemies in the game. You can tell where the missiles will come from but dodging them won’t always be easy. I found flying low works well most of the time but it really blows when you’ve almost made it back to your base and you get blown up by a swarm of missiles. Then there’s mortar fire which really isn’t hard to avoid but having to avoid everything else makes it that much more difficult.

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All of the missions have a secret objective and that’s to rescue this reporter which is somewhere on the ground with a camera man. Finding him isn’t really hard and rescuing him is never required. Some missions have a second secret objective but this one is the only constant. Rescuing people is easy. You just land near them and they come aboard. Many times you’ll need to rescue wounded soldiers and you’ll want to make them a priority. The wounded have timers and if they’re not back at base in time, they die. When missions contained multiple wounded soldiers, I never seemed to be able to rescue them all in time. I would need to replay the mission using a better helicopter. Now just because you were able to land and the passengers are aboard doesn’t mean they can’t die. Crashing or landing hard can easily kill a few passengers. You’ll also need to be careful how you land as the blades can chop up people like butter. Or you can always land on them to kill them. One of my gripes with rescuing people is that they run around like idiots and sometimes they don’t leave the landing zone in time so I’ll frequently land on a few or swing the chopper around too late, taking out some innocent people.

Several missions have you up against zombies and they just seem out of place. Choplifter HD was released on Steam in 2012 and I guess it was at the start of the whole zombie craze. You know, where every game has to have zombies in it because developers couldn’t think of better, more interesting, enemy-types. Well zombies are in this game for some reason and they just feel like an unnecessary addition.

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Now there are no checkpoints and by the end of the game I realized that the missions start becoming very trial and error. You’ll need to memorize where enemies are, where attacks are coming from, and if you die, well you have to start the mission over until you get it right. Because this is a side-scroller you can’t really see what’s in front of you so you could be doing well and then get raped by a dozen tanks that you didn’t know where there and shit like that just becomes frustrating. Sometimes you’ll need to fly fast and just keep moving and other times you’ll need to take it slow and take out as many enemies as you can along the way. It all depends on the objectives and the enemies you’re up against.

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Choplifter HD doesn’t really have many problems. I meant it can get repetitive and the zombies can just fuck right off but overall it’s a solid game. However, I do question some design choices. Like why the fuck do I have to wait for soldiers or civilians to board the helicopter when I start certain missions? Why the fuck can’t the mission start with them already on board? Considering how often I died, it was annoying to constantly restart the same mission over and over and wait for people to board the chopper. There’s also all of this dialogue going back and forth. I believe it’s between the pilot and co-pilot. Some of it’s humorous but after you hear the same repeated shit over and over, it just becomes annoying.

Other than some texture pop-in, Choplifter HD looks pretty good. You’re eyes won’t be popping out of your head with amazement but the visuals do get the job done. You’ll fly through various environments like deserts, cities, jungles, and arctic areas. They all look decent and keep the look of the game interesting. The environments are somewhat destructible and it’s fun watching things explode and crumble to the ground. I really like it when enemies catch fire and run around screaming. The music, on the other hand, is very generic but the sound effects all sound great.

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Choplifter HD is a fun arcade-style game with a ton of action. It’s easy to pick up and play but can get challenging real quick. It’s definitely repetitive and I can see people playing this more in short bursts. It is a fun game with some great replay value but it’s just a shame there isn’t more to it. Most missions feel the same but there’s something addicting about trying to get a better score and trying out all the different helicopters. It’s a fun little game that I would recommend to anyone.

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