Game Review - by James Allen
I recall a time when the most sophisticated flight simulator was one in which you man an aircraft and blow up waves upon waves of enemy forces. OK, maybe not, but I needed a good introduction to Heli Heroes, a game published by Zuxxez (which is German for "Zuxxez") and developed by Reality Pump, the same guys who did Earth 2150 and World War III: Black Gold. Heli Heroes brings back the old days of 2-D helicopter shooters, full of countless enemies, power-ups, bonuses, and a running score. I'm a fan of games like these, as they are a good way of letting off a little steam by downgrading enemy tanks to smoldering piles of molten steel. Will Heli Heroes destroy the opposing forces in a wave of spectacular explosions, or lose its pilot license?
Heli Heroes has all of the basic features that a 2-D shooter should. There is the campaign mode, which consists of 30 missions: four training, 21 regular, and 5 "intercept," which is basically a boss mission where you have to blow up a large and bad object. These can be played with one or two players on the same computer, which is the limit of any multiplayer capabilities. A competition mode is also present: you go through all the levels in order on the hardest difficulty, racking up the highest score possible before perishing. You can choose between two helicopter models, the AH 64 Apache (better machine guns) or the KA 50 Hokum (better armor). You can also download (and upload) the best scores for each level through the Internet, so that you can see how much you stink at the game. The missions are generally pretty long, and there's enough gameplay to just satisfy you up until you grow tired of the game. A mission generator (random or not) would have increased the longevity of the gameplay, but as it stands, Heli Heroes touches the basics of the features category.
How should I put this nicely? Well, the heck with that: the voices in the game are the most annoying, stereotypical, and repetitive sounds I have heard in quite a long time. They are better than, say, Varmint Hunter, but I wish that the people would just shut up. Yes, I am sure that they are going to Hell, you just don't need to say it after every enemy death! Otherwise, the explosion effects and copter noises aren't half bad, but they are drowned out by the campy pilot voices. It would have been better not to include them, rather than having horrible voices as it is. Better luck next time.
The gameplay in Heli Heroes is exactly what you would expect: extreme action, with shooting everything in sight. Is Heli Heroes original? No. Is Heli Heroes fun? Yes, yes it is. This assumes, of course, that you enjoy games like this, and if you don't, you won't buy the game anyway, so there! Basically, you go through each level, blowing up enemies and completing specific objectives, which entails blowing up specific enemies. There are really two main points to the game: to destroy the key target(s), and to rack up tons of points. You are equipped with a basic chaingun, and you can add up to four of them for maximum destruction. You can also switch between several secondary missile types, from unguided Hydra rockets, hotheaded Hellfire rockets, and atomic weaponry. You are constantly supplied on the battlefield by passing over bonuses. These include extra fuel, repair, shield, lives, points, invulnerability, invisibility, and afterburners. You can also turn the screen around 180 degrees by making contact with the appropriate icon: this disorientating position is bad, to say the least. Your fuel burns at a constant rate, regardless of your speed; you control your velocity by your position on the screen: top is fast, bottom is slow. Another wrinkle is that your guns overheat if you constantly fire them, thus delivering fewer rounds per minute. It is necessary, therefore, that you let up every once in a while to deliver the most effective punch. The gameplay in Heli Heroes is repetitive (shoot everything, including palm trees), but if you're a fan of frantic 2-D shooters, Heli Heroes doesn't let up and it's an adrenaline ride throughout.
The game apparently uses the engine from World War III: Black Gold, and Heli Heroes actually looks very attractive. The game is entirely presented in classic 2-D shooter perspective from up and behind the helicopter, which is the best angle for a game such as this. The buildings, grounds, vehicles, and aircraft are all very detailed and pleasant looking. The explosions are impressive, and the maddening nature of the game comes to the front when the screen is filled with explosions, missiles, and the like. The lighting effects are also reable, providing a good contrast for the lasers and missile trails. Missions that place during the evening hours also exemplify the great lighting present in the game. Even the floating bonuses are stirring! Heli Heroes looks great, and I am not sure how you could improve on the visuals here.
If you are looking for a great 2-D shooter, then Heli Heroes is your game. Despite the annoying voices, the graphics are spectacular, and the features and gameplay are what you would expect. We haven't seen many games with tons of enemies and power-ups in quite a while, and Heli Heroes is a good trip back in time to the good old days of mindless shooting and rampaging. The game lacks the depth present in many games of today, but then again, that isn't the point, is it? Just go shoot some stuff and forget about silliness such as plot lines and the like. Heli Heroes doesn't strive to be anything other than a frenzied copter shooter, and it successes at the modest goal admirably.