Tuesday, January 30

Review: Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While there are many classic games that are commonly copied in the modern era there are some that are less often brought back to life. One such title is the classic Choplifter, which lived on many home computer and console systems before even having an arcade iteration created. The style of play was a bit different than the normal shooter fare with your primary objective being the safe rescue of troops in hostile territory, though you certainly had to do a fair amount of maneuvering to take out enemy vehicles and guns. Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 has come to the Switch with a pretty unique look and delivering that same sort of core play with some variations thrown in as well.

Missions in the game will alternate in their focus between cargo/rescue missions and attack/escort missions, each requiring you to fly a different class of helicopter. While both feature some level of combat in general the added challenge in the cargo-style missions is that you’ll need to fly a bit more carefully and land a few more times, almost always adding a small degree of risk to things since the terrain can be uneven, certain trees or buildings can wreak havoc on your chopper, and if you’re running with heavy damage even coming down a little too hard can result in you exploding. Escort missions, in particular, will require that you somewhat stay in the vicinity of the units you’re protecting as waves of enemies will continue to arrive near them, sometimes making for tough decisions of when to try to sneak back to a base to repair. Early on things remain pretty basic overall but within a few levels you’ll quickly find that you need to take more care and will need to consider using the save system mid-mission as well as opportunities to repair or load up your guns at your main base or one of the mobile ones available around the levels.

For the most part your tasks are straight-forward for success and your performance will earn you up to 3 stars. The trickiest one is typically coming in under a certain time limit but in general you’ll unlock better craft as you progress and newer choppers will tend to make quick work of past missions. Another factor to distract you from getting all 3 stars on the first try in missions are the 5 dogtags peppered through each level. These are optional but once you gather enough of them they’ll give you the opportunity to use more insane craft including a lunar lander and even a UFO. After spending a fair amount of time trying to control the lander its extra speed is pretty insane but trying to perform even a marginally soft landing is seriously tricky, especially on jagged terrain. Putting all of these factors and variations together it tends to keep things from getting too dull and in general you’ll find that patience and some careful flying will go a long way to keeping yourself alive.

In terms of frustrations I think foremost the lack of clarity in what is and isn’t in the foreground or background and will foul you up was the most consistent, though not constant, problem. In general these were lessons learned the hard way when you’d be swooping down and suddenly things would go wrong. Most times there’s nothing in your way but in certain situations, bam, you’ve hit something. Overall the controls are basic and can work for evading incoming fire by pulsing or using other simple techniques but in general I wish the controls had been a little more nuanced, especially for the insane special craft you can unlock with the dogtags. Granted, I suppose you wouldn’t want them to be blatantly OP since it would ruin the game but wonky doesn’t fully describe trying to use them either. As a closing note some of the load times can be unusually long.

Overall I think the style of play will either be something that appeals to you and sounds fun or may not be quite what you’re looking for. The more familiarity you have with classic games like Choplifter and some others the more nostalgia will likely help keep your interest, but without that kind of pull I could see the missions getting a bit repetitive after a while. Among the many shooters now on the Switch it has a play style all its own, you’ll just need to determine if it is a good fit for you.

Score: 7.5

  • An overall unique style of play on the Switch
  • Fans of arcade shooters and the classic Choplifter should get nostalgic feels from it
  • Surprisingly challenging as you progress

  • Though the various mission types try to keep gameplay fresh it can start to feel repetitive
  • Problems with identifying what you may collide with and what is in the background/foreground at times
  • The controls sometimes feel like they could have used more nuance
  • Some long load times in places

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