The feathered freedom fighter is back. After what has felt like an eternity, Ratloop finally released the follow-up to their side-scrolling platform shooter Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken (and I have to be honest and say that I’d actually given up on seeing a Vita version after the delays) but now it’s finally here, is it an eggsellent sequel or just downright fowl…?
The game picks up where the first left off, our heroic chick, Hardboiled, discovers that his arch nemesis Putzki is still alive despite the events at the end of the previous game. Being the hero type (not to mention being pretty miffed at him still being around) you set off to eliminate him and the threat that he poses to the world once and for all in what ends up being a side-scrolling platform based shoot-em-up pitting chicken against pigeon, penguin and every other bird and avian creature imaginable… and cue countless bad jokes along the way.
Being a sequel, you’d expect more for your money this time around and for the developers to take on board comments from the fans and critics of the original and that has certainly been the case here. As well as the original core game mode, it has been expanded this time around with revised controls allowing for more fluid gameplay, more weapons (always a good thing) and extra game modes.
The main game mode is the Story Mode. This is effectively the same as presented in the original, progressing through the levels in the game from start to finish which is how most players are likely to tackle the game from the offset. It takes a relatively linear approach although there are puzzles to solve along the way as you negotiate your way through the buildings and the swathe of adversaries en route. Supporting this is the all-new Rescue Mode which is a multiplayer game where you choose one of a multitude of characters in a randomly generated area, where you are tasked with rescuing a group of hostages from the clutches of the evil penguins. Online or ad-hoc modes are supported here as well if you have any Vita-owning friends around.
As I mentioned before, the control systems have been tweaked and movement is pretty straightforward using the left stick for walking, running and climbing with the X button being reserved for jumping, and the right stick being used to aim with shooting being handled by a deft press of the right shoulder button. Equipped weapons (or items) can be swapped easily with a tap of the triangle button and your map once collected can be used by pushing down on the d-pad so controlling our avian hero is simplicity itself.
When it came to playing this for the review, I have to be honest and say that I concentrated on the Story Mode (I’ll explain why in a moment). Controls seemed comfortable enough and on a technical level at least the game is a massive step up from the original and it’s presented in a very impressive grunge-cartoon aesthetic. The game now also sports a full voice over for the cut scenes, hence the larger file size, although whether you see this as being a good thing or not is a matter of personal taste. For me the jury is still out on this one as I’m not totally convinced by the voice acting.
Gameplay wise, it’s reasonably fun and the puzzles do add a welcome break to the run-and-shoot aspect of the game, but when compared to the original this is a much tougher game. While there aren’t necessarily more adversaries on screen they are harder to defeat and the reload times for many of the weapons can make it harder to take them down when you’re being chased by a mob of angry pigeons with machine guns.
Moving on to the multiplayer mode and… well… I was looking forward to trying this as I’ve enjoyed multiplayer gaming on my Vita in recent months but no matter what time of day or night I’ve tried there’s been no-one online to play against so right now I can’t comment on it. I will keep trying this and if things do change then I’ll revise this review and comment on it but for now it’s simply a part of the game that sat there unused.
Overall, it’s a mildly entertaining game, but not quite what I was expecting after such a long wait. It didn’t really feel that different to the original game, the cut scenes may have been there to drive the story forward but I just felt myself longing to skip them throughout as they didn’t bring any character or humour to the game and despite the game’s setting it wasn’t funny. A chicken armed to the teeth (or should that be beak?) up against a penguin and his pigeon minions should be laced with humour but this left me cold and it just felt like a typical run-of-the-mill shooter.
My final real gripe was the story itself. It makes the assumption that the player is familiar with the first game and jumps straight in picking up where the first game left off. There’s no precis of the first title to being newbies up to speed on what has happened with the story or the conclusion of the first instalment of the series. Having the game kicking off with a massive spoiler (for those who haven’t completed the first game) really didn’t impress me at all and from that point onwards I think Rocketbirds had something to prove and didn’t quite achieve it.
Still good fun if you loved the original, but not the best shooter on the Vita and even with Cross Buy with the PS4, it’s not the best value for money.
At A Glance
- Title: Rocketbirds 2: Evolution
- Publisher: Ratloop Asia
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: Yes (PS4)
- Cross Play: Unknown
- Local Multiplayer: Yes
- Online Multiplayer: Yes
- PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
- Memory Card Space Needed: 2.7Gb (version 1.01)