Review: Rocketbirds 2: Evolution (PS4/PSV/PSTV)

rocketbirds-2-review-banner-yr10

Platforms:

  • PlayStation 4
  • PlayStation Vita

Extras:

  • PlayStation TV Compatible Yes
  • Cross-Buy Yes
  • Cross-Save Yes
  • Cross-Play No
  • Cross-Chat No
Title: Rocketbirds 2: Evolution
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4 5.34 GB) (PSV 2.65 GB)
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Ratloop Asia
Developer: Ratloop Asia
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: T
Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is also available on PlayStation Vita.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

IN A WORLD… where all the characters are two-dimensional anthropomorphic birds and the only way to move is right or left, up and down, or back and forth… wait, isn’t that three dimensions? *cough, cough*
OK. Only one cock is brave enough with a cloaca big enough to challenge the Fearless Leader Il Putzki! And that cock is Hardboiled!

Gameplay:
I’m not going to go into specific controls here because this is a review and not a walkthrough. You can find the control scheme in the Options menu.

It’s important for parents to know, like Josh, that the gore can be turned off in the Game Controls area of the Options menu.

STORY MODE: Single player.
Start and you’re in a side-scrolling game. I won’t give away any spoilers but the game’s humor is evident immediately. There is a ubiquitous annoyance which makes the first moment all the more satisfying.

PLUS the gunshots come from your sound system as well as your DualShock 4 controller. I didn’t see an option to turn that controller sound off… but if you plug-in headphones so you can play while others sleep or listen to TV or whatever, using headphones stops the controller sounds.

… this suddenly unplayable game gets a score of ZERO? …
The developers have some very pointed opinions about the current, and seemingly now eternal, cell phone texting habits of the public at large. I am 100% on board with their sentiments. I am also 100% on board with the humorous methods they employ to make their points. Delicious satire.

Right away you can choose between a machine gun and a shotgun. (To the music of a drum set and tambourine!)

And before I can even really start the game I’m stuck. I have consulted the controls in the Options menu, I have pushed every button on the controller. I cannot jump to where the arrow indicates I should go.

Perhaps I have made a mistake or perhaps there is a glitch that needs patching but apart from all this… this suddenly unplayable game gets a score of ZERO? This cannot be… let me email the PR person… (Wayne’s World time thing “doodleydoodoodleydoodoodleydoooo”) PR didn’t get back to me yet so I restarted the game and lo and behold A PRO TIP!

PRO TIP:
In the tutorial there is an instruction for double jumping, Use L1 twice, which is presented at the moment you encounter a single level obstacle.

It is very confusing because the visual cues do not match but you probably won’t realize that until you’re stuck on the next screen when you DO need to double jump and you’ve misunderstood the previous instruction because the context was wrong.

My gift to you, dearest gamer, is this and thus: double jumping is accomplished with L1 twice. You may leave your taxable contributions on the PS Nation forums under the yet-to-exist We Heart Keith thread. (ALSO you can use L2 twice because apparently there are more buttons than is absolutely necessary.)

When you quit, the game asks if you wish to send your save to the cloud so you can grab it for play on the PS Vita.

The map is cleverly handled on the touch pad when it becomes available.

Keep track of your health and look for pick-ups of all kinds as you go.

There are alternate pathways. Some contain mini-bosses and other surprises. Some need a keycard, others do not. Some may make you think you have a choice but it becomes clear that there is only a single way forward. Is it the hardest way?

As you enter each room you won’t know which enemies you’ll find or how they’ll be arranged. Strategy is paramount. You may find yourself dying early on until you learn which enemies are the most deadly. You’ll want to vanquish them first.

Some are trickier than others. Some are weaker against some weapons than others. Discovering these attributes as they arise and overcoming them bestows a real sense of accomplishment. As with many games today, from COD: BLOPS III Zombies to Lovely Planet and from Bloodborne to Salt and Sanctuary, death is a learning experience.

… use all the weapons you have …
Like Terrence Stamp as Bernadette says to Guy Pearce as Felicia in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, “…..let it toughen you up”.

There are surprisingly difficult areas where you will die over and over. If you behave like a typical gamer and repeat your previous failed strategies you will feel stuck. Free your mind and the rest will follow. Go back to the drawing board. *Insert more lyrics and aphorisms here* (HEY REVIEWER: Four Minutes, Fourteen seconds and one sexy video later, back to editing. Them girls is purdy.)

Remember to use all the weapons you have along with your jumps and other movements acquired. Mix it up. Don’t allow fruztrationz to get the better of you. (HEY EDITOR: Can we trademark these unusual spellings based upon my last name? Actually maybe I should do that for MYSELF! It’s MY NAME, after all! Never mind.) (HEY REVIEWER: I’m still dreaming of the En Vogue ladies.)

It doesn’t take long before the areas present puzzles in the form of barriers between you and enemies. The solutions start out rather obvious but present another opportunity for humor.

Be aware. There are hidden areas you can only get to by being incredibly prescient. The first is early on when you encounter the bombs. No spoilers. Make your own discoveries. Just remember walls and backtracking. ‘Nuff said.

At the bottom of the screen for each level there appear several red squares. Those squares correspond with secrets. Secret hiding places for areas you need to access. Do that. They will not necessarily be obvious. Actually you probably won’t see them at all. We call that “replay value”.

Some levels harken back to a time when gamers needed codes like UP-LEFT-LEFT-DOWN to discover secret areas and bonus content. EASTER EGGS, we called them. This is no different apart from the method.

Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is a rare bird indeed to bring back these hidden gems and to start this type of conversation among gamers again. “Did you find that first hidden item?” Wonderful.

… controls translate straight over …
PS VITA:
When you begin PS Vita play you need to go to OPTIONS and download your PS4 save. If you’ve played PS Vita first then do the same on PS4. It’s very basic and intuitive. If you can’t figure it out and this 52.5 year old can, stop gaming now. Stop using your PC and/or MAC and go now to a cave. Leave your phone with relatives.

Load times are longer on PS Vita. That’s to be expected. 8 GB RAM on PS4 vs 526 MB on PS Vita.

The game looks great, if small. The controls translate straight over which answers the question, “Why do the L1, R1, L2, R2 buttons do the same thing on the DualShock 4?” If you have a WIFI connection the multiplayer works the same as well.

If you have a PS Vita which uses that over-the-air phone insanity you should box it up, please GAWD don’t tell me you threw-out that box, put it away and sell it at Midwest Gaming Classic in ten years for $700, or some reasonable price to Carlson: Not Your Doorman. (HEY EDITOR: I’m just gonna leave that oddly incorrect Mary Tyler Moore reference hang there. Everyone KNOWS doormen are called Carlton!) (HEY REVIEWER: And everyone also knows that doormen named Carlton are on Rhoda, starring Valerie Harper, long before she became Jason Bateman’s mom, but after she was spun-off from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Ted Baxter is not amused.)

There is a setting for Prompt Cloud Save in the Network options menu. If you have a PS Vita and plan to play back and forth between systems, you have to go into that menu and enable that option. It will not necessarily happen automatically.

Your other options are UPLOAD and DOWNLOAD save data. Enable the prompt cloud save option because… why wouldn’t you? I find it odd that you have to opt-in to that.

… The Spider’s Nose, Goose Brother Blast …
TROPHIES:
The Trophies for PS4 and PS Vita are combined due to the Cross-Buy/Cross-Save nature of the game. Certainly the case could be made for this as a con but with the ease of Cross-Save for this game, one set of Trophies makes the most sense. I know the Trophy Ho’s among you will scoff.

How about this, go buy another PS Vita game and get those Trophies! You get to play another game on the fantastic PS Vita. Sony hires another developer, sells their game on PS Vita, and maybe we get more games on that terrific handheld device.

There are twenty-nine Trophies including a Platinum. They include the names The Spider’s Nose, Goose Brother Blast, and my favorite, Crimes of Passion. Only a single Trophy is hidden. That is very intriguing!

(HEY EDITOR! Did you ever see that film by the auteur director Ken Russell who also directed the films Tommy and The Lair of the White Worm and the genius film The Devils starring Vanessa Redgrave as a nun in lust with a priest played by Oliver Reed… this sentence has become so long I had to go back to the beginning to check my subject… called Crimes of Passion from 1984 starring Kathleen Turner and Anthony Perkins? Wow, man. Ken Russell! Probably my favorite filmmaker of all time.) (HEY REVIEWER: …still dreaming of En Vogue.)

Visuals:
When beginning the game there is a video choice in options for 3D. As I don’t have a 3D TV I was unable to switch it. I have no idea, but I suspect, there is a setting for 3D TVs. I wanted to get a 3D TV.

The old ball and chain even said he wanted a 3D TV and then we couldn’t afford one. So no go. I was not able to turn on 3D but I was able to access the depth of 3D. What does this mean? Confusing for sure.

Blood splatter is abundant. The carnage left behind may remind you of the 1997 sci-fi film Event Horizon! By that I mean blood splatter all over the walls while no one really takes notice of it. That is typical of video games while in Event Horizon it was just incredibly stupid. (HEY REVIEWER: Well yeah, but Event Horizon had Lucius Malfoy, five years before he grew out his hair and started tormenting Harrry Potter so… there’s that.)

Gore may be turned off. If you turn off the gore there is simply nothing. No splatter. No substitution of splatter for confetti. No anything.

… New World Evolution music …
Audio:
Audio options are basic. Music, sound, and voice levels. I miss the days when I could choose BTS or some such other audio choice. It always made me feel superior to know my surround set-up could handle the highest level of surround-ness.

Now I just feel like Auggie settling for Dewey (DOY!) over Eva Morganstern! (HEY EDITOR! Girl Meets World is AWESOME!) (HEY REVIEWER: This brings us full circle to the original, and best Morganstern, Rhoda, or you know, even her sister Brenda Morganstern played by Marge Simpson.)

I was thinking the touting of New World Evolution music was going to be some lame game thing. Boy-howdy was I wrong. The first thing you encounter on the start screen is the theme they have written for the game.

The song WE EVOLVE is gamercentric for sure but it also contains some cheeky lyrics comparing evolution and religion. No punches are pulled in the allusions.

I was a club DJ in my late 20s and early 30s and if I could I’d blend into this game’s theme in a hot minute, right now, today. I can only hope that there is a forthcoming remix at about 130 BPM.

I did Google search for New World Evolution and came-up empty. I have no idea why! I assumed they were a band with at least some internet presence. Computer says, “No”. (HEY REVIEWER: Well, there’s this.)

… drastically short-lived …
Online/Multiplayer:
RESCUE MODE:
You’re tasked with rescuing our hero from the story mode, Hardboiled Chicken. You may join a game in progress or create your own game. What you may not do is invite friends nor may you set-up a private game. Since you can’t invite anyone, a private game would be moot for multiplayer.

Developers, please do not limit us like this. Gaming has become an affair where we gamers who live afar from our friends and family can get together in an activity where we also are free to chat about life while we game.

We cannot do that with your game if you do not give us the tools to limit with whom we play. Because of this limitation, online multiplayer in Rocketbirds 2: Evolution will be drastically short-lived.

We do not seek the morass of humanity in which to flail. We wish to co-op in comfort and familiarity. And discuss Aunt Opal’s piles, our latest out-of-wedlock babies, and perhaps an abscess as we rescue Hardboiled Chicken.

The upside of my issues with the online multiplayer here are that the game is such fun I want to be able to share it with friends and relatives online! Don’t make a game this good and then add insubstantial online modes. Go big or go home, to paraphrase a certain diminutive green guy who mentored some guy named Luke. (HEY REVIEWER: The Great Gazoo?)

Conclusion:
I don’t know what’s going on with side-scrolling games lately. The last two I have reviewed have required a PRO TIP just thirty seconds into gameplay. There seems to be that one mechanic that requires elucidation either because there are no visual or written cues or because the control cue necessary appears in a section where it does not apply and does not appear in the section where it does apply.

Hear this, my dearest devs, pay attention to your tutorials. Remember that while it may seem obvious to you, we gamers out here in the bush have not spent two years climbing that ladder or jumping double. Maybe bring in your cousin Cletus and let him, or her, have a go. Then you’ll know.

The multiplayer is a disappointment indeed. Private group multiplayer gameplay with friends is how many gamers of different stripes avoid internet hate. I hope a patch is forthcoming to remedy the absence of this mode which I find absolutely necessary.

Sans online play for those of us, who are multitudinous, who eschew playing online with insulting and rude cretins, there is the couch multiplayer. Where you can always slap the guy or gal next to you to keep them in line off line. Cold comfort if you want to play with your relatives in Texas when you are in New Jersey.

… fresh and funny throughout …
Frankly there is very little to distinguish this game’s online from the online play in Ratchet: Deadlocked from the PS2 era eleven years ago.

Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is far more than a simple run-and-gun side scroller. You’ll encounter levels which will turn the gameplay on its head and story elements which surprise, charm and elicit belly laughs.

The developers, apart from the multiplayer aspect, seem to have thrown in everything and the kitchen sink to keep this game fresh and funny throughout.

While I have reservations about some aspects, I had a great time playing this game! The ease of transferring saves between PS4 and PS Vita is a huge plus.

I try to remember one aspect above all others when I review any game: Is it fun? Rocketbirds 2: Evolution is more than fun. It’s a blast!

Score:
8.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Vita’s built in screen capture feature and the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

Written by Keith Dunn-Fernández

Keith Dunn-Fernández

An actor/director and more lucratively an Administrative Assistant at a small paper company in NYC, Keith loves his games. And he loves to write. And he is a bit of a sarcasmo.

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook