With a visual style that is reminiscent of the offspring of Minecraft and Crossy Road, it must be said that Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 will probably be dismissed by a huge swathe of gamers. Realism is king in the jungle of the modern day videogamer and the blocky visual nature of Dustoff will no doubt ensure that this helicopter themed rescue-em-up will struggle to enthuse the wider audience.
But should you be prepared to take a punt on a rather unique little game, then you’re in for a treat. See, Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 isn’t just good. It’s very good. And very addictive. Letting you fly through the air in style. In fact, it’s good enough to warrant a couple of simple questions… Where the hell is Dustoff Heli Rescue 1 and why isn’t it available on my Xbox!?!
Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 will see you take to the skies in your very own rescue chopper, as you scan a rather delightful world for enemies and survivors. It is up to you to become the heroic pilot and save the lives of wounded soldiers strewn across the battlefield, fighting back against the forces of REDFOR, and taking down their tanks, their trucks and their artillery in order to see the world become a better place.
A solo player campaign plays host to 35 unique missions in which you’ll find yourself piloting 12 different heli types in order to save the day. One mission may well see you having to drop soldiers off into the battlefield, whilst another will task you with bringing the heroes home again. More still hand you the objective of taking down as many of the enemy forces as possible, slowly making your way through swarms of enemy vehicles in order to succeed. You’ll even find a request to drop off bridge parts so that your colleagues can attack the bad guys across the ground.
In order to complete a mission, you just need to survive, and with weaponry filling the battlefields, this is no mean feat – especially if you wish to try and further your chopper pilot career by completing three mission objectives. With stars distributed depending on whether you complete your mission, how fast you do it and whether you take a direct hit and require a restart from the cleverly placed checkpoints, there is plenty of replayability in Dustoff 2, with missions needing time and effort so you get the most out of them.
To help you out, there are no less than nine proper eggbeaters available for use, with three further unique alien additions to keep things fresh and fun. These all need to be unlocked before you can utilise their goodies though; cash rewards for completing levels, and taking down the forces of REDFOR, are essential in allowing this. Each will come with specific levels of health and handling capabilities, and whilst you may find yourself making your way through the early stages with the first couple of whirlybirds, it won’t be long before you’re left gagging for an upgrade. This keeps you playing, and wanting to play, Dustoff 2 more and more as the tease of new more powerful copters is always on the horizon.
Weapon upgrades are also available, and whilst these are in small supply, should you pick up the required cash they can equip your helicopters out as full-on fighting forces. A nose gun can swiftly become a cannon, whilst your door mounted arsenal can be configured to shoot bullets, missiles, rockets or a combination of the three during each mission. If truth be told, once the majority of your weapon choices are available and unlocked, Dustoff 2 becomes a bit of a breeze, as your attacking options far outweigh the numerous enemy types. But you’ll still need to be careful – if only in order to grab all three stars on each stage.
The rather unique thing that sets Dustoff apart from your usual fly and shoot adventure is the fact that you have very little control over when or how your copter attacks. If you are in range, you will shoot, and whilst that is occasionally annoying, especially when you’re left with very little ammo and a swarm of tanks sat below you, it does allow one thing – and that is to let you concentrate on controlling your craft.
And, you see, the control scheme of Dustoff 2 is rather damn nifty. At first, you’ll hate it. There is no debate about that and you’ll wonder why on earth the simple and brief tutorial is asking you to move your chopper left and right with the bumper buttons, requesting you hit the d-pad in order to see your machine is facing the correct way. But bear with it, and just five minutes later you’ll be left thanking the gods of Invictus Games for creating a control scheme that is just so right.
The bumper buttons work brilliantly in ensuring that you are able to get the right lift and drop of your heli at the optimum times, letting gravity do the work where need be, and allowing those who spend a little time mastering the specifics the chance to fly and glide across the landscape, and down into enemy filled tunnels with ease and delight. With a physics system that for the most part is spot on, it really does allow for confidence and security as you skillfully despatch the enemy, or drop your soldiers off into hostile territory.
Should you get things wrong, and chances are you will, then a quite frankly brilliant checkpoint system is in place to save the day. Running as helipads and ammo refresh points, when your chopper’s health starts to get low, or you find yourself fast running out of ammo, a delicate land on a big yellow H will give you the opportunity to save your game for free, or top up both your health and ammo by spending the cash earnt. Across many of the missions you’ll find that just running through things in a slow and steady manner will be enough to see the mission classed as a success, but this in turn will eat into your ammo and cash reserves massively. You’ll therefore need to weigh up the pros and cons between moving quickly and saving bullets, or taking your time and spending the cash that could instead by used on purchasing a faster, nimbler, more powerful craft.
But worrying about missions, level par times, and whether you can complete things in one nifty run aren’t the only things you need to be concerned about in Dustoff 2, as hidden within the landscapes are five dog tags on each stage. These do nothing except give access to the three alien ships that sit teasingly at the end of your ‘garage’, but taking to the skies in a moonlander or UFO is so tempting that you may just feel the need to hunt every single one down. At least once you’re done with the basic missions structures anyways.
With levels designs that take you across deserts, forests, hills, and snowy fields, before sending you down into the depths of hidden cave and mine systems, it will take some time for you to tire of the blocky design that Dustoff revels in. Admittedly, many will seem overly familiar by the time you’re cracking on with the 35th mission in an attempt to grab all three stars, but the combinations of areas ensure there is usually something to look out for and enjoy. On a personal level, I adore the simple but effective cube filled visuals and have never once tired of them, the included action orientated music, or over the top sound effects which will leave you with the scream of missiles running round in your head long after you switch off. I can’t honestly say the graphical nature will appeal to all though, but as long as you are open to something far removed from the utter realism that is commanding the big videogame fees in this era of gaming, then you’ll quite possibly be pleasantly surprised.
In fact, you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by the majority of Dustoff Heli Rescue 2. 35 missions may not seem like a lot, but should you wish to grab all the available stars and dog tags, then you’ll need to invest a good few hours of gametime into what it brings. Aside from a clunky level select screen, a bit of repetition as you advance into the latter stages for the umpteenth time, and the odd occasion when the flight physics go right out the window to leave you spiralling to a messy uncontrollable death, Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 delivers the goods.
If you’re looking to harness your inner rescue pilot and take a chance to rain terror from above onto the enemy forces below, then Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 should be checked out.