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Heli Heroes Review

publisher: Zuxxez Entertainment
developer: Reality Pump
genre: Action

PII 300, 64MB RAM, 4MB Video Card, 320MB HD
ESRB rating: E10+

release date: Jan 29, 02
» All About Heli Heroes on ActionTrip

I have to admit that I always liked playing side-scroller-shoot-em-up games. OK, I didn't play any of those recently, but that was mostly due to the fact that they stopped being trendy somewhere at the beginning of the nineties. Still, I caught myself wasting huge amounts of time on a game which only has one novelty in comparison to legends such as 1942 and Xenon - a great 3D engine.

Heli Heroes sets you in the middle of the fictional WWIII clash, in which you fight terrorist groups that endanger world peace. And as we are talking about a game developed by Reality Pump (the same guys who did the World War 3: Black Gold), the choice of this setting should not surprise us at all... and definitely not more than the fact that the main two vehicles in the game are the AH-64 Apache Longbow and the Russian Hokum helicopter.

Once you chose your favorite chopper, (Apache has a 60% more powerful gun and Hokum 50% more shields) it is up to you to save the world by killing hosts of terrorists. One thing you would expect from a game like this is numerous hordes of enemies rushing senselessly at you. And that is exactly what you'll get. What's more, you'll get it in the shape of alien gunners, bunkers, cachuchas, choppers and planes. On some missions you will have to find a way to defeat stronger enemies in the form of huge stealth planes carrying a boss of a terrorist organization. Fortunately, the developers managed to balance the gameplay perfectly, by making the enemies relatively weak in the first couple of missions, and then making them gradually stronger. Another great upside is that, unlike the older games of this type which tormented the players by making them play the game from the very start over and over again, here, you can choose to play any of the thirty levels, provided you completed all the levels before it. And if you do get stuck, you can always decrease the difficulty level, or ask a friend to help you out by playing the level in co-op.

The missions do not simply come down to annihilating everything in sight; each mission will pose a specific task, like destroying three radar sites, fifty SAM launchers, or going through a level with a time limit. This makes the gameplay far more interesting, so you won't just go from the beginning to the end of level, shooting occasionally. You will first have to reach the main target zone and then circle around it until you have completed your mission. Only in a couple of missions will you be allowed to influence the scrolling by taking the left or the right position on screen. The problem with mission design is that, if we disregard a couple of really specific scenarios, all the terrains and all the enemies look pretty much the same. The "campaign" will keep moving you from one location to another so that it is unfortunately hard to keep track of the story and of what had transpired on each of the locations. It would have been better if they had separated the missions into several plausible wholes.

The only thing that will help you do the job a bit more easily is the fact that the enemies do not re-spawn, and that the health-packs and bonuses do. Most missions can, therefore, be completed by flying straight through to the main fight and then focus on the combat, while constantly gathering health-packs. As for the bonuses, you can gather machineguns, secondary weapons and ammo for secondary weapons. Secondary weapons are most commonly rockets (my favorite weapon in the game was the green rocket with area damage), lasers and plasma-guns, and using them will give you the great feeling of superiority over your enemies. The best thing is that there is a lot of secondary weapon ammo all around, so you never have to worry about going back to your default machineguns. Other bonuses include invisibility, invulnerability, afterburners, bonus points, shields, fuel, a gadget that turns the screen for 180 degrees (???), etc.

Technically, Heli Heroes is a well-developed game. The visuals are provided by the engine developed for WW3: Black Gold. This engine can cope with large numbers of objects even in the highest of resolutions (supports up to 2048x1800x32). You will instantly notice the great dynamic lighting coming from your chopper's lights, guns and explosions. The game features a bunch of subtle weather effects. The only thing that bothered me is that there are only three cameras, and none of them will let you see too much of the action. Enemy choppers will frequently go off screen and shoot you from there.

The sound system supports Dolby Digital 5.1, and has really good music and sound effects, but it would need some more sounds as the comments like "Did I hurt you?", "This doesn't look good!" get tedious in no time.

Whatever the case, Heli Heroes, with its old concept and new make-up, presents an interesting pass-time, not only for the old side-scroller-shoot-em-up game fans. The only problem is that the few missions you get to play leave you with a pretty empty feeling, and completing the game several times just so your score can compete with fanatics on-line, doesn't sound all that thrilling either.


8.0   Very Good

Not as frustrating unlike similar games, nice graphics;

You can never clearly see the situation, relatively short game, only cooperative hot-seat multiplayer mode.



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