Rocketbirds introduced us to the Hardboiled Chicken back in 2011. Ratloop Asia created an instant arcade-style classic and proved once again that Slick loves chicken. Back when we were just My Take Radio, I was fortunate enough to review the game which you can check out here. Back then, our hero thought he had taken out his nemesis, the penguin president for life, Putzki. Nothing is quite what it seems for Hardboiled Chicken and his fight begins anew. Let's take a look at Rocketbirds 2 and find out if this is a true “evolution” of the franchise.
WHAT ARE YOU, CHICKEN? Hardboiled Chicken is being called a liar in the newspaper! As the first Rocketbirds concluded, we saw him put a bullet in Il Putzki. You can imagine that out hero is none too happy to see a supposed dead guy is alive, kicking and back in power. To correct what appears to be his mistake, Hardboiled Chicken sets off to once again riddle Putzki with holes. Little does he know the sinister secret behind the resurrection. Alien owls resurrected Putzki using the remnants of his DNA floating in space. The new emperor penguin does not seem to have a problem sharing this information (never said he was bright). Hardboiled comes to find out that there are numerous clones of Putzki. This gives our hero a couple of new objectives: kill Putzki until he stays dead and take out the owls that keep bringing him back. To quote an 80s action film, “Hardboiled Chicken made a mistake. . . Now it's time to erase that mistake!”
The story was never the strong point of Rocketbirds, but the story telling went a long way to put the game over. In the first title, Ratloop and New World Revolution made music videos which would further the plot in between each level. You wanted to push through a stage just to see that next video because the music and action were great. While New World Revolution still lends their musical talents to the game, the music video-style cutscenes are gone. For me, it was a big disappointment even though the scenes than have been put together are funny and enjoyable.
NO GIZZARDS, NO GLORY Rocketbirds 2 adapts most of the same basic gameplay as the original. I miss that there is no rolling and stealth elements are gone. In place of it we have more guns than ever and bigger, badder enemies. Do not ask me how, but apparently pigeons are more durable than penguins. Not only do they take more hits than the soldiers of the last game, the pigeons are not knocked back by gunfire. If this game is your first adventure with Hardboiled Chicken then it probably will not matter. As a huge fan of the first game, these are things that I miss. The controls are also a bit loose in the sequel. 360º aim is a good thing and it works especially well in free stages like the submarine exterior. Unfortunately for the bulk of the game this can be a drawback. For example, you run into a room and a pigeon soldier is in front of you but slightly below you because of stairs. You might initially miss him, allowing him to pop off shots into your carcass. I think Ratloop realized this and balanced things out with tons of ammo and a lot of health packs strewn about each level. Things work out, but the control could definitely be tighter.
GOLDEN BROWN Rocketbirds has always had a very distinct graphical style. It looks like a cartoon and so the cutscenes in the first game essentially were cartoons. I have already moaned and groaned about the lack of those. The trade off is that the art itself has improved and there is a clear difference between the original game which was on PS3 and this one on PS4. The best way I can describe things would be to say that Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken would be like watching one of the Peanuts' specials. It had that traditional ink and paint look. Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is more like watching a Pixar movie. Despite being a 2D action game, the characters have a faux 3D look and everything looks like a CGI production. This actually sells the title quite well. The sequel has “evolved” from what the original was. The only bad part of this evolution is that New World Revolution has less of a presence in the game. As you proceeded through the first game, their guitar riffs would come and go as the action did. There is is much less of that in the new title. More than likely however, I am just really missing the animations in-between levels. In all, I just look at it as a different game. Ratloop could have used the exact same formula but they wanted Evolution to stand out from the original and it succeeds at that.
BUDGIE BRIGADE IS BACK! You cannot have a complete Rocketbirds experience without four player mayhem with the budgies. The option to play off or online lets you and three friends (or total strangers) rescue individuals from Il Putzki and his pigeon minions. I did not play much of the multiplayer in the first game and this time around there is not a large community of people to play with. I was rarely able to find a session with more than one other player in it. This is actually were the “multiplayer” shines because even if you have no one in your party, you can play and extra missions means more Rocketbirds fun. Of course, you will not get the full experience without four players. I don't know anyone who would not want to see a tower of four budgies running around shooting everything in site. The aiming mechanic is the same as in single player, but with a gun-toting team, all pigeons fall down.The lack of multiplayer presence does not take away from the overall awesome.
If you played the first game then Rocketbirds 2: Evolution will have its ups & downs for you. It is always good when the game engine is used for cutscenes overall because you don't get that Final Fantasy VII shock. However, Ratloop and New World Revolution had put together something magical in the first game. On the positive end of that, the graphics are considerably better. Even though there are some control issues in the new game, there is nothing but fun to be had. Il Putzki and his generals throw the kitchen sink at you in some areas for a bit of a challenge but it is nothing that a fan of platforming shooters cannot surpass. Multiplayer is great if you can find someone to play with. If not, you can try to tackle the missions solo. You will have a good time if you have three friends over on a Friday night with a bucket of chicken. Comedy, action and some serious alternative rock make this another hit from Ratloop Asia. Rocketbirds 2: Evolution should not be missed.