Like all good New Yorkers, I usually keep my head buried in my phone on the subway as I attempt to ignore the passengers wedged up against me. Luckily for all of us, mobile gaming has revealed itself as a mostly free and simplistic way to waste one’s time on the go. I personally enjoy mobile games, but only on my mobile devices. There seems to be this trend now of porting every single iPhone and Android game to the big consoles, and I just don’t understand the reasoning. If a game is free for my phone, I am not going to pay for it on a console, and if you have to pay for the mobile version, I can guarantee you I will never play it. Now that you know where I stand, let’s get on with it, shall we? Meet Dustoff Heli Rescue 2.
Dustoff Heli Rescue 2, from Invictus Games, began its digital life as a mobile offering before being ported over to everything you can think of. I have never tried the phone version and can’t speak to how it played, so this review will only contain my thoughts and feelings on this specific port. The popularity of Heli Rescue 2 astounds me, as I found the controls to be sticky, the game slightly buggy, and a nonsensical overuse of the Minecraft pixelated look which I am growing to loathe. The game does have its charms, but it never rose high enough to erase my disdain for mobile game ports.
In Heli Rescue 2, players make their way through 35 missions rescuing hostages, destroying enemy combatants, vehicles, and structures, providing air support, and protecting convoys. Players have the option before, during, and after missions of purchasing repairs, upgrades, and rearmaments with gold coins collected from destroyed enemies. The settings range from the Middle East to more forested areas, and what appears to be random European backdrops.
The main reason this port put me off, was due to what I perceived as poor controls. Instead of the thumbsticks, players must use the shoulder buttons to navigate. Press both together and the copter will lift off into the sky. Press the right shoulder button and the aircraft banks right, press left and it, of course, goes left. The helicopter fires on its own as long as you’re within firing range of the enemy. Be mindful not to fly too high or close or your gunners won’t have a clear shot. In theory, this all works, but I had a lot of trouble with the controls for the majority of the game. Every time I wanted to go right, the flying contraption would keep facing left, and I’d be flying backwards.
Navigation and weapons go hand in hand, and if the controls are wonky, so too will be the combat. If you fail to destroy an enemy on the first try, it can be quite difficult to do a quick turnaround to take another pass. I crashed and burned a hundred times because I didn’t get the kill on the first attempt. The game isn’t easy, and with multiple baddies on-screen shooting at once, it can be a challenge completing missions without destroying yourself. I really would have liked the developers to have allowed players to control the weapons themselves.
The environments are also a hazard, as flying into trees, buildings, and mountains are all commonplace. You need to fly low enough to blow up a truck, but if you’re not careful, you could fly right into a wall or another enemy encampment. It honestly wouldn’t be so difficult if the controls were a tad more refined.
You may remember I mentioned at the start that I found the game to be slightly buggy. I don’t know if I am the only one who has experienced this, but at one point the selection screen froze, and none of the DualShock buttons would work. Yes, I could press the PS button to get back to my home screen, but upon returning to the game, it was still stuck. Eventually, it just started to work again, as if nothing ever happened. [If anyone has experienced this as well, please let me know in the comments below].
Throughout the game, players will have twelve different helicopters to unlock, each with a multitude of weaponry. This would be great if it didn’t take a while to unlock everything. You start the game out with a simple machine gun, but no options to unlock anything better until the eighth mission. I found the standard gun to be underpowered and a hindrance, especially when attacked on multiple fronts. With poor controls and a lacklustre weapon, I simply couldn’t get the job done.
Maybe I have no patience, maybe my mobile gaming port bias is causing me to feel ho-hum about this title, or maybe it’s just that this game was amazing on mobile, but doesn’t quite work on the console. Just because a hundred people love something, doesn’t mean everyone should.