Choplifter HD ReviewJanuary 13, 2012
Many kids once dreamed of being a firefighter, astronaut, or maybe Batman. A lot of us also loved playing with RC helicopters. Perhaps some of you even played the original 1981 Apple II game “Choplifter”, created by Dan Gorlin. inXile Entertainment’s Choplifter HD is a “spiritual successor” to that classic, and one of the best remake/ reboots I’ve played in a long time.
Choplifter HD does a stellar job of keeping the spirit of the original alive, while updating the gameplay and graphics for modern times. The game captures the vibe of old arcade classics, as you’re shooting for a high score on each level of this 2D side-scroller. It gets much more complicated than that as you play, however. You’ll need to figure out a strategy for each level in order to complete all your objectives, which start out simple and evolve as the game goes on, which prevents the gameplay from becoming stale and repetitive.
The basic idea is that you’re on a rescue mission to pick up as many survivors as you can, as quickly as possible. Things get a bit crazier, and soon you’ll be trying to extract dying survivors back to base, using your boost, shooting everything in sight and praying that your fuel or health doesn’t reach zero before you make it back safely. You’ll need to attack and outmaneuver ground troops with machine guns, AA turrets, guys with RPGs, zombies, and more in your plight to save all the stragglers. Each helicopter has different attributes, and replaying levels with different copters is key to achieving the coveted 5 star ranking. Stars aren’t just for bragging rights, however; you’ll need them to unlock new helicopters and advance through new levels. It doesn’t appear so at first, but Choplifter HD is a thinking man (or woman) ‘s game.
Choplifter HD is all about variety and keeping things fresh. You’ll fly through great-looking jungles, deserts, cities and more. You’ll fend off a large variety of enemies below you, behind you and in the foreground. A few levels have you battling zombies. Hell, even Duke Nukem and Super Meat Boy make cameos. Near the end of the game, it might become necessary for players to backtrack through earlier levels and achieve the coveted 5 stars, as your current flying rig just might not cut it. For the most part, however, Choplifter HD manages to balance the fine line between thinking strategy and having fun. The voice acting, I should note, is one of the best parts about the game; listen closely to the survivors’ shouting and you’ll be in for a few good laughs.
Overall, Choplifter HD is one of the first big surprises of 2012. Not since Bionic Commando: Rearmed has a reboot done such justice to a gaming classic. The great visuals, environmental variety, and utterly addictive arcade gameplay will keep you hooked for a long while.