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Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review (PC)

Penguins in entertainment – whether they be in movies or games have traditionally been “good” – so it was quite interesting to see them as the antagonists in Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken for the PC. Originally released for the PS3 and Xbox 360, Rocketbirds is a fun, 2D sidescrolling action game with a visually stunning art style and an even more addictive soundtrack.

The game casts players as Hardboiled, a super soldier “C*ck of War” bent on eliminating Lieutenant Putzki, the leader of the evil Penguin Regime that’s been oppressing the chicken world for some time now. Hardboiled traverses on foot and on his trusty rocket pack in  15 chapters of non-stop action. Locations include a jungle fortress, a city under siege, a dilapidated subway, a maximum security prison, and more; each environment boasting backgrounds modeled in full 3d for pan, zoom, and parallax effects.

Read the full Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken Review (PC) after the break.

Hardboiled employs various weaponry to viciously eliminate the oppressive penguins.

Gameplay is actually quite simple, yet it’s this simplicity that makes it so much fun to play. Hardboiled only has a few moves like walk, jump, crouch and roll.  Hardboiled can equip a number of deadly firearms including pistols, sub machine-guns, assault rifles, shotguns, heavy machine-guns  and a number of grenade types. It’s actually quite fun to shoot an enemy into the air using the shotgun then switching to the assault rifle to juggle them midair until death. I was sorely disappointed that even though there’s a number of enemy types, they didn’t require me to change my battle tactics in order to defeat them; most encounters turn into spray and pray gunfights with certain levels throwing wave after wave of enemies at me.

Even though it’s only a few, these moves and weapons are key to survival not only in combat but with puzzles as well. Since many of the levels involve environmental puzzles, Hardboiled must employ the ever-useful brain bug grenade to hijack enemy’s body and use them to open doors, push crates, and unlock security panels Hardboiled needs to move forward. Then – in a genious move by developer Ratloop Asia – players can order the hijacked penguin to shoot himself in the head, thus returning controls back to Hardboiled and at the same time killing off a potential threat. My only gripe with the puzzles is some of the elevator/crate environmental puzzles took too long to finish and detracted from the run and gun action, especially near the end of the game.

Like in the indie hit Lone Survivor, Hardboiled can hide in certain parts of the environment, giving the game a pseudo-stealth/cover-based system that’s only useful in certain situations. This isn’t such an issue because Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken does employ fairly responsive controls. I played the game twice; once with a mouse and keyboard, and the other with a gamepad. Since the game supports both inputs, both PC and console gamers will be able to enjoy the game. A minor gripe I did have with the controls was that Hardboiled needed right on top of an ammo or health box in order for him to pick it up. I can’t remember how many times I died trying to pick up ammo/health boxes while on the move.

The jetpack levels are the best parts of the package. Flying is easy and combat is fun.

Then there are the jetpack levels, where Hardboiled must take out enemy units defending giant blimps, ships, and rockets before being infiltrating, wiping out enemies inside, the scuttling the warship. These levels are pretty much the shining jewels in the entire package. Flying around with the jetpack is easy and intuitive  combat is fast-paced and challenging  However, the camera would sometimes zoom in and out, depending on the location, and obscure my view of the enemies, making some of the battles a lot harder than they should be, especially when homing rockets are fast approaching my tail. Once all defenses have been defeated, players can infiltrate and destroy the warship. Players will then be greeted with a the flaming/smoky remains of a once grand blimp. It’s amazing seeing all that happen in real-time too.

Two players (online or off) can work together in a separate coop campaign that spans 10 chapters.

Finally, there’s a seaparte co-op campaign spanning 10 levels that have two players playing (on the same system or online) as one of the several budgie (tiny chicken) commandos as they work together to solve environmental puzzles and defeat a greater number of enemies in their own separate campaign. What’s great about the co-op campaign is that the budgies can perform team maneuvers to solve puzzles and get to locations that Hardboiled couldn’t get to by himself, thus opening up more gameplay opportunities.

TECHNICAL PRESENTATION

GRAPHICS – Like I mentioned earlier in the review, RocketBirds: Hardboiled Chicken boasts a unique visual art style that meshes the feel of a saturday morning cartoon with a mature/violent anime. All of environments and backgrounds pan, zoom, and employ parallax effects that separate it from other 2D sidescrolling games. These aren’t your regular static backrounds that’s for damn sure. I oftentimes found myself stopping and checking out the surroundings because of the fantastic lighting and art displayed.

AUDIO – Let me start this by saying that Rocketbirds‘ soundtrack (featuring New World Revolution) is nothing short of amazing. The audio tracks always fit the situation, and oftentimes battles are more fun because of the songs playing. However, the voice-overs are truly over the top to the point of being annoying, especially Putzki, and the damn revolutionary chickens. See instead of talking, these chickens converse using a gurgling sound that will make you want to kill them instead of helping them.

PROS:

+ Fast-paced, run and gun action
+ Stunning and unique art style
+ Jetpack levels are a blast to play
+ Superb soundtrack and use of music to heighten emotions
+ Super tight Keyboard/Mouse and gamepad controls
+ Superb Coop campaign
+/- Environmental Puzzles

CONS:

-/+ Environmental Puzzles
– Hammy/annoying voice-overs
– Multiple enemy types that require no change in strategy to defeat (except the shield penguins)
– Short game length (I beat the game in under four hours.)

FINAL THOUGHTS

Despite some shortcomings, especially its length, there’s a lot to enjoy in this package including fast-paced gameplay, unique/creative art styles, a bumping soundtrack, tight controls, as well as a fun and frantic multiplayer co-op campaign. It’s was one of the most visually stunning games of 2011 on PSN and XBLA, and it still holds its own quite well today. Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a fun – although short – romp; yet, at $9.99, it’s still a pretty good deal.

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on October 20, 2012, in Game Reviews and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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