The city of Albatropolis is overrun by penguins commanded by their twisted and evil ruler Putzki and it's all down to a former minion Hardboiled to save the day. If there's one thing he isn't - that's chicken.
This indie title from Ratloop Asia allows us to get all fowl mouthed and gritty in an explosive platform adventure game. Starting off with our hard as nails chicken hero Hardboiled sporting his trusty jetpack as he rips through the skies in a short lived attempt infiltrate Albatropolis, he gets shot down, leaving him to then make his way on foot, disposing of enemy penguin troops and even his own clones along the way with an impressive and satisfying array of weapons including a machine gun and a shotgun.
With a presentation that reminds me of the Adult Swim cartoons found on late night TV, Rocketbirds has taken classic Saturday morning visuals and added a violent edge to it and is a pleasure to watch in action. So it's a shame that Hardboiled himself is such a basic and at times fiddly character to control, playing like a very simple web browser platform game but with lush graphics. The same simplicity can be found in the action elements of the game, with the enemy penguins you come against being pretty mindless, running into incoming fire which is all line of sight attacks; if your looking at them you can hit them. Most enemies are disposed of by simply mashing the trigger button, blasting away and juggling them in the air until their feathers are blown from thier bullet riddled bodies. Whilst fun for the first few battles it's so simple that boredom quickly sets in. There is an attempt at using cover, with Hardboiled being able to duck into the shadows to avoid bullets but it's easier just to stand face to face and blast away.
What initially seemed to be a flat out platform shooter and a bit of a dull one at that transforms after the first few chapters with our hero donning a jet pack for some Jetpaction. Taking to the skies allows Hardboiled to be free of the 2D platform constraints and then blast his way around zeppelins that spew out rocket penguins and chopper penguins with homing missiles. With a very dynamic camera zooming in and out of the action this is a completely different pace to the platforming element of the game but is sadly short lived with jetpaction only appearing on a couple of occasions.
After self destructing the zeppelins and back on terra firma our hero is captured and stripped of all weaponry and tortured, shown by way of many well made cutscenes with music by New World Revolution. All seems lost with Hardboiled in an inescapable prison cell were it not for the Resistance who grant him a special Brian Bug weapon. With this, Hardboiled is able to throw an unlimited amount of small green bugs at unsuspecting penguin soldiers and take over their mind, with you then directly controlling the penguin trooper to assist with hitting otherwise unreachable switches or even suprise attack their own troops; rather grisly, once you are done with them the only way to cease control is to make them blow their own brains out. This mind control element adds a lot more depth to the game but even then it's real basic stuff, switching characters and moving blocks around to climb.
With quite a short single player campaign there is also a co-op mode to keep you entertained across 10 levels. Played online or local, two players are able to get tooled up as special ops budgies and work together to complete levels based on the main campaign. Each budgie has their own weapon, with the Chief toting a light machine gun or Mutt and his shotgun, letting you choose your favourite characters to blast away at those pesky penguins.
Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken is a fun enough platform adventure with stunning visuals, but due to its simple nature is just shy of greatness.
Words by Ash Buchanan.
Review Policy (Version tested: PC)