Birds are a complicated creature for me to form an opinion on, they’re aggressive and annoying but can be fun when they talk and quite often are beautiful, this coincidently sums up my feelings towards Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken.
Rocketbirds was originally a flash game, and much in the same way as Alien Hominid, it’s spread it’s wings and come home to roost on consoles. It’s transportation to the console market has found it perfectly set up as an exclusive PSN title.
The concept of the game is simple, you’re a chicken who is blowing the hoo-ha out of penguins with an aray of weaponary. It bills itself as a puzzle platforming action game, and where as I can’t completely argue with this description, the puzzles do leave a lot to be desired. For me they just seem to be “push box against wall, climb on box, jump over wall”. The violence in the game is in stark contrast to the quite comic aesthetics of the character design, this technique has worked well for many games, most recently Shank and Dishwasher.
To try to explain the plot of Rocketbirds is a bit tougher than I first anticipated, this I don’t think is due to any complicated nature of it, I just think it flowed through me. There is a city called Albatropolis, some commie penguins run it, you as the protagonist haven’t taken kindly to this and decide to shoot those flightless fiends apart. In co-op your mission is to hunt down your General’s daughter who has been kidnapped, every time you save her she runs away only to be captured again. Neither plot is there for any particular reason, they’re just there to give you validation for the excessive avian-murder.
The look of the game is something that should be praised on so many levels. Quite simply the background artwork is some of the best you will find in any platformer, they are intricately designed and set out, with many layers of scenery that just move slightly to give a wonderful sense of perspective. The main background that players run in front of has clearly had a lot of time and effort put into it, apart from the few “bunker” levels which are cut and paste jobs. The foreground tilts slightly giving a sense of 3D perspective. The contrast of the 2D characters in front of it gives a wonderful juxtaposition of style. Without a doubt this is the part of the game that I would hope many people take away with them. It doesn’t go without flaw however, the busy nature of the very first level, set in a forest, means that players will find it near impossible to spot a platform from the background, that aside it’s still face punchingly pretty.
The game in my mind should not be played alone, although the single player is a solid and perfectly workable game with some great set pieces, including some “Jetpaction” that could be it’s own standalone game, the real fun comes from sitting with a buddy. My usual partner in crime Will and I blasted through the co-op in nearly 3 hours and apart from a couple of levels that could have been trimmed it was a fun experience. With a game that looks as simple as this you could be forgiven for thinking that this is a run and gun experience, and while it is totally that, in co-op you find yourself actually trying to produce tactics. Certain enemies are shielded on one side leading you to need your partner need to distract them, or you could be getting flanked from either side and need to set up a point of attack and try to out flank the flank.
In the single player you’re a fully grown chicken, in co-op you choose from a range of differently armed budgies with only half the height of the chicken, this means a lot of the puzzles are born from jumps you can quite reach. Being vertically challenged means you have to stand on your budgie friends shoulders for more reach, this alone is quite a nice touch, but using this ability during combat to produce a heavily armed totem pole is just a joy to behold when getting surrounded by enemy penguins.
The game on the whole doesn’t bring much new to the table other than it’s well presented design. This is a frame by frame platformer akin to many you would find on the Amiga back in the day. The gun-play is fun and when you manage somehow to keep your health and ammo just above empty as you clear a particularly hard room you can’t help but sit back and give a satisfying sigh of relief. The game is funny, between the comic style and some very funny background propaganda and the excessive and surreal script, this should produce a good titter out of the player.
Overall this is a fun experience with some great laughs to be had, I just highly recommend you have those laughs with a friend. With violence, gore, guns and budgies these are the real Angry Birds…(sorry)
Beautiful backgrounds and art style
Genuinely funny sections
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