Rocketbirds 2: Evolution PS4 Review
Publisher: Ratloop Developer: Ratloop Genre: Action Platformer Players: 1-4
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: Vita
Let me get this out of the way. In spite of its title, Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is not an evolutionary game by any stretch of the imagination. The title isn’t a complete lie, however, as this first sequel definitely does a number of things to evolve its own series, and they are improvements that makes the game feel less limited.
Rocketbirds 2 carries over the silly humour from the very first game, and it also carries over Hardboiled Chicken’s fight against the evil penguin dictator Putzki, who somehow survived the closing events of the original game. It falls to the heroic chicken to once again assassinate the evil penguin. The silly humour is likeable enough, and it gives the game a very light-hearted tone; if the thought of a gun-toting cartoon chicken doesn’t already do that for you.
Where the sequel has mainly evolved in comparison to the original game is in its movement system. In my review of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken, I must admit that I neglected to mention some of the games’ limitations. The truth is that you were only able to shoot forward, and weapons could only be fired while you were stationary in that game. This has improved immensely in the sequel.
Hardboiled Chicken is a lot more agile than he previously was. He can now shoot while moving, and even when he’s jumping. Being able to fire bullets in all directions makes the action feel a lot less limited, although the controls might take some a little while to get used to. You move with one stick and aim your gun with the other, and, for such a side scrolling game, this twin-stick setup does feel fairly cumbersome at first. Given a little time though, you may just be culling fellow birds like an expert; spilling their blood and sending their feathers flying everywhere. The improvements to the hero’s movements means that the action is more interesting and varied, and it’s certainly smoother, more fulfilling and skill-based in comparison to the stop and start action of the original game.
The game is also more challenging than the original game was. Perhaps it’s because gunfire is coming at you in all directions, but things just feel tougher than they did before. There are also some difficulty spikes from time to time, and I did find myself dying and having to try again on a number of occasions, particularly on the final chapter of the game. I’m happy to say that the checkpoints are mostly generously placed though, and you never have to replay a sizeable chunk of the game to get back to where you previously were.
Occasional underwater, jetpack and stealthy sections are welcome, as are the sections in which you take control of enemy birds to do your bidding for you, Abe style, but, whatever you are doing, the action in the game rarely let’s up. Yes, Rocketbirds 2 is a sidescrolling platformer with a lot of shooting and bird killing, and there’s little else other than this. Because of this, certain sections of the game can feel slightly repetitive, but it’s a rare thing for the cartoon violence to not feel satisfying.
The game has quite a collection of guns, which grow over the game’s duration, but it’s just a shame that accessing them can feel rather awkward. You can only have two weapons equipped at once, and you’ll have to go into the menu screen if you want to switch one or both of them to something else, which can be frustrating during the action, particularly as accessing the weapon screen doesn’t pause the game.
The main campaign is mostly good stuff while it lasts, but the cooperative mode also makes its return, now with a new name. The Rescue mode is a drop-in/drop-out mode which has players working together as budgie commandos to, as you might expect, rescue other birds. Unlike the original game, there’s online options here as well, meaning that the mode can be played by up to four players at once, locally or online. If you are a lone gamer though, the mode can be played in single player as well, which is the main reason as to why the developer decided to rename it. In single player, you can hire AI budgies to help you out. The Rescue mode gives you the opportunity to customise your load-out with unlockable weapons as well as the cosmetics of your chosen budgie commando, which also affects their stats. The missions take place in procedurally generated levels, and there’s also a hub level in which you can purchase weapons, have shootouts with your teammates in the Dojo, and head on missions.
Rocketbirds 2: Evolved feels slightly cumbersome and repetitive at times, and has some frustrating difficulty spikes and weapon switching issues, but it’s also a sequel that has evolved in areas that make a lot of sense. The smoother movement controls transform the protagonist into a much more capable shooter, the increased challenge renders the game more satisfying, and both modes are very playable. In conclusion, Rocketbirds 2: Evolved may not rule the roost of action platformers, but it still offers a fun time.