Windows - 1997
Description of Helicops
The future doesn't look good for Tokyo. Following an earth quake in 1998, the city is headed for disaster. It seems that just about every criminal in the world is going to set up shop there. Luckily, the good guys get together and form an elite group of law enforces. These are no regular cops. No back-handers for these guys. No travelling about in trashy old police cars either. The law enforcer of the future wouldn't be seen dead in anything other than an armour-plated helicopter packed to the gills with enough hardware to destroy most of the Western world. This is where you, the player, steps in. Time to take control of a helicop and save the planet.
The game's plot is all presented with some sumptuous cartoon stills. The character design is excellent and resembles Japanese cartoons such as the Manga series. The first thing to do is select which of the five helicops you wish to pilot your craft. They all have profiles and you gain an advantage in the game if you manage to use the right pilot for the right helicopter. There are five helicopters to chose from, all with individual attributes such as speed, armament, and shields. Once you have selected your cop and your preferred choice of transport, it's time for some action.
Each cop begins with four scenarios from which to select. Once you've picked a scenario you have to play through four or five missions. The variation that the missions possess in both style and objectives are excellent. Few of them are simple blasts. For example, one of the earlier missions involves stopping a convoy of tanks before they reach the other side of a river. Aircraft attempt to delay you from destroying the tanks on the level's vast bridge and some more sneaky tanks attempt to cross the river on barges. Other missions involve airlifts, data retrieval, defusing bombs, destroying a cloaked air base, and sinking escaping ships.
Shoot first, ask questions later
The game itself is presented in full SVGA 3D graphics. Helicops is an action packed shoot em up. The police in the future certainly have a more aggressive attitude to crime, if it moves they destroy it! It's a bit like Terminal Velocity except that the helicopter obviously handles differently to Terminal Velocity 's space craft. The controls initially look a bit bewildering, but thankfully they're quite easy to pick up. A four button game pad or joystick will provide the best method of control. Playing with keys is a bit tricky but not the end of the world.
Helicops is one of those games where you're not sure if it's a sim or a shoot em up. It feels a bit like a sim because the controls are detailed and everything is in 3D. However, it's not really a sim because you can't damage yourself by crashing into the ground and the targeting of enemies is fairly simplistic. Each helicopter comes armed with three sorts of missiles and two forms of guns, one of which has unlimited ammo. Power-ups (another non-sim feature) are generously strewn throughout the game area. Some reload or upgrade your weapons, but the majority have more interesting effects. There's old favourites such as invincibility and health restoration. However more noticeable are the more devious weapons to be had, such as 'conflict' which temporarily turns the enemy against each other. Very useful and a bit of a laugh!
Helicops is a very enjoyable game. There are around 32 different enemies to fight and the variation in the levels helps to maintain your interest in the proceedings. There are three difficulty levels, the easiest of which is a push over. The harder settings make for a much more challenging experience and add to the replay value of the game. If you liked games like Terminal Velocity and Descent, then you'll find Helicops to be right up your street.
Nice bit of 3D....
The graphics in Helicops are very impressive. The 3D engine runs in SVGA and uses some very detailed texture maps. The best thing about the graphics is the distinctive look given to each game area. Cities, docks, caves and even the insides of a computer are all excellently modelled. A lot of the background graphics actually move about. Planes take off on the airport levels, trucks make deliveries around the docks, and trains rumble through the mountains. You can even shoot these passive craft down. If the dock level isn't going too well, why not vent your frustration on a group of passing yachtsmen?
The price you have to pay for decent graphics is obviously that of processor power. The lack of any low-res graphics options mean that Helicops isn't worth playing on anything less than a P100. The manual notes that for 'kick-butt performance' you're probably going to need at least a P133. I tried the game on a friend's P120 and it seemed to be OK, but I wouldn't go a lot lower in terms of processor speed.
The in-game sound is reasonably good. Various explosions and typical shoot em up sounds are to be found. There's no speech for when you get a power-up or for when an important event occurs. This is a bit disappointing. The music isn't exactly inspiring either and is played through the PC rather than off the CD. There's nothing seriously wrong with the audio side of Helicops, but there isn't a lot to impress you.
Helicops is a good shoot em up. However, it's long term appeal is questionable. Despite the greater difficulty levels, players may tire of the missions quickly. This is a problem associated with most shoot em ups and shouldn't be taken too seriously. The only other gripe that I have is that it feels a bit of a cheat the way your guns lock on to enemies so easily. You don't really have to do much targeting, just point your helicopter in the right direction and you're away. However, this is compensated by the excellent use of the various flight controls to weave in and out of the landscapes and dodge missiles and so on.
I would have to recommend Helicops to anyone who likes games of the Terminal Velocity style of gameplay. It's a nicely presented, well designed game which should keep most shoot em up fans happy for a while. Helicops has a nice feeling of quality about it without ever really breaking any significantly new ground. Definitely worth a look if this is your sort of game.
Review By GamesDomain
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