Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken

6 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Gameplay: 5/10
Staying Power: 4/10

Aerial sections are a joy to play | Amazing Presentation | Great music

Ground levels are boring | Too easy overall | Slightly overpriced

It’s hard not to feel conflicted about Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken. On paper, the idea sounds totally bad-ass: flying poultry raining death on its foes with a rocket strapped to its back. In addition, it’s the successor of the thrice-nominated game, Rocketbirds Universe, at the 2010 Independent Games Festival to boot. With a stylish presentation and an inspiring soundtrack rarely found in downloadable titles, it’s quite disappointing to discover that the gameplay doesn’t quite hold up to all the bells and whistles.

 

In the fictional world of Albatropolis, dominated by what can only be described as a Nazi penguin regime, you’ll become one of the last on the remaining line of resistance as Harboiled Chicken. The birth of this Rocketbird is no accident; he was captured by the penguin army at a young age, and was subjected to vigorous training and unimaginable experimentation in the evil Putzki’s attempt to create super-soldiers. Thanks to his oppressors, Hardboiled Chicken is blessed (or cursed) with enhanced abilities and knowledge that few others possess. His proficiency with fire arms makes him deadly as soon as a weapon falls into his hands, throw in the ability to fly via the aid of rocket pack, and he’s practically unstoppable. Unlucky for the penguins, the first thing on the Rocketbird’s to-do list is to go after their leader, and thus a tale of revenge and retribution begins.

 

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a 2D side-scrolling shooter, with some light puzzle elements sprinkled throughout. The game is comprised of 10 chapters, and in each of the chapters you’ll navigate the level from one end to the other, gunning down anything that stands in your way. There’s a small variety of weapons for you to play with, including a pistol, a sub-machine gun, a shotgun, and grenades. On occasions you’ll get to use special gadgets such as a type of mind-controlling bug, and like the name suggests enemies that come into contact with it will be under your command. With your own personal zombie you can infiltrate the penguin facilities undetected, opening locks and doors to allow Hardboiled entry. It’s also great fun to walk up to an unknowing penguin soldier chatting at you, just to take it out the second it turns its back on you. If you’re feeling like you need a little backup, it should be noted that you may choose to play through the campaign via 2-player local co-op.

 

Aside from doing a healthy amount of shooting, you’ll also spend a good portion of the game solving puzzles. The puzzles themselves aren’t exactly compelling, and basically involve you finding keycards for corresponding locked doors, with navigational obstacles littered along the way. The controls for the most part are serviceable, but feel sluggish at times. You’re can only shoot directly ahead, and are unable to shoot while you’re in the middle of a jump. There is some irony to be had that while on the ground levels, you do feel like you’re trying to steer a chicken at times. The game really shines in the aerial sections though, as you’ll be taking a test drive on the oversized rockets while engaging in aerial dogfights against the penguins. The action in the air takes a much faster pace than what’s on the ground, and surprisingly the slightly sluggish feel to the controls is completely gone. You’d think that with the flightless birds soaring high and out of their element may lead to some uninspiring moments – it’s anything but uninspiring: the penguins are numerous, relentless, and nothing like the pushovers they are on the ground. There’s not much to complaint about the aerial levels, except for the fact that they’re few and far in-between.

 

Other than gameplay issues, just about everything else in Rocketbirds: Harboiled Chicken is done extremely well, almost enough to make you look past its shortcomings. To start, the presentation is top-notch; the character models and the backdrops are rich with detail, ooze personality, and simply look amazing. The cutscenes follows the same fashion, and will have you eagerly trudge through the game looking forward to the next one. All the while you have some pretty sweet alternative rock playing in the background, featuring the musical offerings of New World Revolution. Available exclusively for the Playstation Network for $11.99, Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken’s asking price feels a little steep for what it’s bringing to the table. You’ll want to desperately like it because of how well the overall package is presented, but at the end of the day there’s not enough game there to hold your interest for long.

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