PS VITA – Arrowhead Studios is no stranger to twin-stick shooters, since they made Magicka and recently the Gauntlet remake. However they have also been working on a sci-fi topdown shooter called Helldivers, and while the project looked promising the wait was unbearable. Finally the game was released and we had a chance to try out this new IP from the developers of Magicka.
In the future mankind is in peril against three alien races that all wish to destroy “Super” Earth which is aided by the Helldivers. These soldiers drop down into heavy combat zones and try to complete objectives so that Humanity can fend off the attacks, and conquer all three alien life forms.
Guns, mechs and airstrikes
Helldivers does not lack in means to kill the enemy. From simple machine guns to heavy rocket launchers and bazookas, to walking mechs everything is available. The systems and the weapons however have to be unlocked first by completing missions, and conquering planets. There are also support items called Strategems, which can be limited, and have cooldown effects, but provided important assets for combat. For instance one item provides an auto-turret, another ammo drops, a third one can drop a mech with a minigun. There are offensive Strategems such as airstrikes, and nukes.
All of the levels and objectives are procedurally generated by the game, and all of the wins / losses count towards a galatic war status which determines humanity’s fate at the end of the “month”.
If all three races are conquered than a good ending plays out, if not well the Earth blows up, even this simple bad ending scenario can be reversed as you can fight for the cities on Earth.
Mission types range from simple: capture and hold area, to gathering black boxes of a downed dropship, escorting civilians to a bunker, or blowing up enemy AT emplacements. Completing these mission successfully will add more influence to reach Humanity’s goal, and will also provide new unlocks for your profile.
Weapons can be upgraded by leveling up and gaining research points, or by collecting ten samples from the battlefield which nets you one research point. The mechanics are great, and let you gain powerful weapons a little after you began your conquest to save Humanity.
Speaking of mechanics, true to Arrowhead’s previous games, friendly fire is active… all the time. This leads to some fun situations, and not even joining a new match can be boring.
When joining a match for the first time my drop-pod landed on one of my team members, and I had to revive him asap while bugs were swarming our position. It was quite hectic, and sometimes such situation will seem unfair. The good thing is that friendly fire also works against the enemy as their own units can be killed if they attack harshly. Anything can kill the player in this game, from bombs, to friendly fire (artillery or machine gun fire) , bugs, cyborgs, terminator esque robots. No wonder they’re called the Helldivers.
It is truly a coop game as while playing alone on the early missions seem like a cakewalk, a few bumps in the difficulty and you’ll be begging for another player. Speaking of which….
Get in, drop-down and drop-in
The menu and multiplayer mode in this game is probably the “best looking” and most atmospheric of all. When you jump to a planet with your ship you can see other ships and their usernames. The maps background and the planets with the ships are also dynamic and full of life. It’s a really neat way to immerse to player and to give the menus and options some style.
However there aren’t too many map types, and only just one game-mode with several objective based maps. It would have been great to see city type maps, and maybe a horde mode. Or a mode where more than four players would be able to join the map.
Besides the above the game is near perfect, except one thing. The graphics might put off some players, as it is not the best. It is great, and it can’t be too much as this game supports crossplay between VITA/PS3 and PS4. So I can understand why there might not up to new generation standards.
Would you like to know more?
Helldivers reminds me a lot of a movie, aka Starship Troopers, and it seems a lot of Arrowhead’s unique brand of humor is also here. Mixed with references from Aliens to Starship Troopers it’s not just stylish but a funny journey to save Humanity from the evil aliens.
While the game is done, I hope that we get DLCs with additional content done the line just like with Magicka, or a PS4 only HD remake for better graphics (so that those who do not like old graphics can enjoy this).
Anyone who loves co-op and smashing aliens will love this game. See you after planetfall!
+ Great atmosphere, enemy design
+ Lots of replayability, unlockables
+ Interactive warzones
– Friendly fire might frustrate
– Graphics not that detailed
– Difficulty might put off some
Editor: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Arrowhead Studios
Genres: action, top down, tactical
Publication: 3 Mars 2015