If, like me you are in your thirties you might remember the original Choplifter game which was released in 1982 for the Apple II. A few years later it was ported over to other home computers and then in 1985 Sega released an arcade version which proved popular.
Choplifter was a simple game, yet incredibly addictive. The premise was to shoot down enemy weaponry in your path and to rescue friendly civilians. The graphics were basic, with pixelated characters and simple side to side scrolling, but I wasted many a month trying to beat my last score. Ah, the good old days when games felt fresh.
Developer InXile, have decided to bring the game into the modern era with an updated engine, but have stayed true to the original title.
It is available on the PSN and XBLA with a PC version available via Steam. InXile have not only enhanced the engine, but there is a new leaderboard system, achievements and a five star rating system which can unlock new choppers with improved weaponry, armor and fuel capacity.
To make the new ‘HD’ version slightly more interesting, inXile have decided to include an extra ‘dimension’ of gameplay, meaning you sometimes have to use the shoulder buttons (or keys on the PC version) to front face the helicopter. You can’t actually move on this axis, however enemies will sometimes appear in the foreground and this is the only way to dispose of them.
The game is great fun to play, requiring coordination and a little forward planning. Frequently you have to pick up UN employees and civilians, but there are also wounded soldiers who need returned to base for medical treatment. Every mission also has a hidden objective which earns bonus points if completed.
Some missions have no rescue objectives, focusing the player on a pure ‘run and gun’ strategy. To keep things fresh, the developer have even added zombies to the mix, which seems a common place move in 2011/2012. Thankfully they don’t appear often, but there is a complete level devoted to the forces of the undead, which adds a little spice to the mix. If you don’t rescue the civilians in time, then the zombies have a nice feast.
Choplifter HD could have been a total disaster and I was dreading a complex revamp of the classic arcade shooter from yesterday. Thankfully they have placed a lot of effort into developing the game, while maintaining a fun, addictive experience. On the Steam store it costs £9.49 which may seem a bit steep considering the repetitive nature of the game. If they could reduce the price to £4.99 we could wholeheartedly recommend it, but at this price it is recommended, with caution.