Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is set to release on PlayStation 4 and Vita on 26th April, and we've received the chance to test out what the game has to offer so far. Playing through the game's first chapter and a bit of Rescue Mission mode, here are our initial impressions.
Taking place after the events of its predecessor, Hardboiled Chicken discovers that the evil iL Putzki is still alive, preparing to reign more terror. Immediately, Hardboiled Chicken locks-'n'-loads for his next mission. The game's story is told with in-game dialogue sequences, and definitely aims for the comical approach; there's no question that there's some chuckle-worthy lines. It feels like a Saturday morning cartoon, minus the fact that the game is on the slightly bloody-side (which is completely fine, but more on that soon).
Upon taking control of Hardboiled Chicken, the controls feel like almost that of a keyboard and mouse setup. While it's a 2D game, the movement just feels like you're using a keyboard, while aiming feels more like a mouse than an analogue stick. Now, the game runs at a silky smooth framerate, but aiming definitely feels a bit on the loose side. Jumping and shooting are mapped to the shoulder buttons so that your thumbs focus on the movement and aiming, which is a smart move. Combat with enemies feels solid for the most part, but it started to become tiresome that it would take an entire clip of an assault rifle or shotgun to take out just a single enemy most of the time. When there are multiple enemies on-screen, be prepared to go through several clips with a single enemy's name on each clip.
Throughout the mission, there are a few puzzle elements in place. At one point later in the mission, you acquire a cell phone jammer which allows you to confuse guards and control them. This is a fun, intuitive element that offers some respite from the action. There's even a slight "stealth" mechanic in place that penalises you when the enemy has sight of you, locking the doors in the area until you kill them all.
Rescue Mission, however, appears to be the real meat to the game, as it provides you with four-player local and online co-op to tackle missions together in. You can choose from an assortment of characters, customise their loadout and appearance, and head off to the central hub. Here you can visit stores to buy new gear and weapons, go to the dojo to face your friends head-to-head, and, naturally, partake in missions. There's actually some story found here, with a briefing provided before missions, as well as the overarching story being that you have to find the missing Hardboiled Chicken. The first mission had us returning to iL Putzki's lair, searching for a missing bird (not Hardboiled Chicken). Killing enemies nets you currency that can be used in the hub. You can go solo as well in Rescue Mission, but just be aware that no one can revive should you go down, requiring you to restart the mission.
Visually, Rocketbirds 2 looks pretty good, providing some 3D feel to the 2D gameplay (2.5D essentially). Animations are fluid, the framerate is smooth, and the enemies' heads decapitating from gunfire is hilariously awesome. As mentioned earlier, this game has a bit of gore in terms of killing enemies. It's not to the point of grotesque, but enough where you can shoot an enemy's head off and kick it. Little details like this are pretty cool and comical, especially in a game like this. However, the disorienting aspect visually is the scrolling backdrops. As you run across the room, the camera pans along the room to give you a 3D effect. Instead, this just feels jarring and poorly executed.
So far, Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is looking decent, minus the odd iffy design choice. The story mode seems solid based on the first mission, and the Rescue Mission mode seems to be where the game will find much of its longevity – especially since it has fully-fledged four-player online and couch co-op.
Do you think that Rocketbirds 2: Evolution sounds pluckin' brilliant, or do you reckon developer Ratloop Asia's wingin' it with this outing? Flap about in the comments section below.