Review: Choplifter HD (XBLA)

Review: Choplifter HD (XBLA)

If I had to define myself by one console, it would be the SEGA Genesis. I remember with no small fondness the time I spent with that controller in my hand. Whether it was Road Rash II, ToeJam & Earl, Sonic the Hedgehog, Marble Madness, Desert Strike, or any of the many other wonderful titles that console provided, it was a golden age for me. Clever segue, witty banter, oh hey, Desert Strike. Inspired by the original Choplifter, Desert Strike was a fantastic game that got its fair share of my gaming time. Now, Choplifter HD has made its way to XBLA/PSN, and it reminds me of the days spent piloting my Apache through the Middle East.

There is one problem with Choplifter HD. For the most part, gameplay is horizontal. Movement is left to right across a 2D screen, and combat can occur on that same 2D platform. This is not the problem, this is actually very well implemented and very entertaining. No, the problem comes when the perspective has to be shifted, and the helicopter is turned towards the screen in order to fire on enemies in the foreground. Combat controls become clunky and awkward, and noticeably less entertaining. Awkwardness aside, the combat remains functional no matter your perspective.

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The environments in Choplifter HD are very well detailed, as you can see in the screenshots above. There is depth in the backgrounds of the 2D levels, as well as sharp detail and use of color in the environments overall. It’s no Mona Lisa, but for a downloadable helicopter game, it’s very easy on the eyes. The flight is smooth, as are the controls for the aforementioned flight. Lift-offs, touch downs, banks, and changes in elevation and speed are all smooth and easy thanks to a mix of good control design and gradually developed player skill. The tutorial levels do a great job of gradually building a solid set of flight skills used for completing over 30 rescue missions of varying types. You may find yourself flying into a military hot zone, or straight into the middle of a zombie horde. No matter what the situation, though, rescue is your goal.

The 1200MSP/$14.99 price point may be a bit steep for some people, so I definitely suggest you grab the demo and try it out for yourself before buying, unless you are already a big fan of the original or of the genre in general. It’s a great example of objective based helicopter flight, and a lot of fun to pick up and play. In spite of the incredibly awkward foreground combat controls and targeting, Choplifter HD’s excellent flight mechanics, large variety of environments and mission features, wonderfully detailed art, and great pick-up-and-play value makes it a title well worth picking up.


Great flight and control mechanics
Lots of variety in missions and environments
Detailed environment art
Awkward combat controls
90 out of 100

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