The last helicopter game I played on the Xbox One was Air Missions: HIND, a game that’s hopelessly frustrating and far from what I would consider to be fun. It’s not too difficult to sum-up expectations for a game from the first hour of play, and that’s because that first hour is arguably the most important hour in any game. It’s important because the game has to sell itself to you and then grip you for continued playtime. Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 uses its first hour truly well and certainly delivered more in that one hour than the entirety of Air Missions: HIND did, despite the wildly different gameplay mechanics.
That being said, Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 comes with very little story. Instead you’ll be taking on a collection of moderately sized levels in an attempt to aid trapped or wounded troopers. Gameplay typically sees you flying across the environment, engaging in combat, and bagging as many coins as you possibly can in the process. There’s a decent variation when it comes to the level design and mission structure, but for the most part the gameplay remains the same throughout. Sometimes you’ll be required to guide troopers to safety, lift heavy objects from one place to the next, build structures, or just blow the enemy into next week. The whole package is about as arcade as it comes, which isn’t a bad thing by any means.
There’s no denying that the controls will take some time getting used to, simply due to the odd layout. In Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 you do not control chopper movement with either the analogs or the D-Pad, but must utilize the LB and RB buttons instead. Left and right movement can be achieved by pressing the respective buttons, with the D-Pad serving as a means to direct the nose of your chopper. It’s quite frankly a bizarre scheme to rely on and accounted for several of my failed attempts during the initial phases of the game. It certainly doesn’t help that you can take damage from rough landings or completely annihilate your chopper by smashing into structures with enough force. Irrespective of that it took me about 15 minutes to properly gel with the controls, and from here out, the fun-factor fiercely kicked in.
On top of that I was surprised to see that I had no control over shooting. The chopper will do that automatically when hovering over the enemy, leaving you with nothing to worry about but the navigation. Each stage comes packed with hidden secrets and time bonuses to uncover and contend with, which adds to the replay value. There’s a total of 35 levels throughout the entire game, with nine choppers and 11 weapons to chase after. These can be purchased and unlocked by nabbing dog-tags or by spending those all important coins, but on top of those unlocks there isn’t a great deal of content to work for. Though when you take the generous cost of the game into account, this is an easy concern to overlook.
The different choppers all come with their own characteristics, which helps to keep the game from feeling repetitive. I must admit I quite enjoyed testing them all out. Praise also goes to the visuals, which houses a very Minecraft-esque sort of vibe. The game takes you through a neat selection of locations, many of which are presented with different daytime themes and weather conditions. Despite the well set visuals I do have one large gripe with them. I often found myself crashing into the environment due to it not always being clear as to what was foreground and what was background. At times I would brace for impact as I was coming up against an unexpected structure, only to find that I was actually passing some background scenery. Other times I would slam into a structure, assuming that it was a part of the background. It’s hardly a deal breaker, but it can prove to be irritating to say the least.
Thankfully the game remains fluid and accessible from beginning to end, so getting back into the action was never a chore. The difficulty curve is lenient, but not too forgiving as you dive deeper into the experience. At first you’ll be taking on some simplistic tasks but as soon as the game has given you the proverbial inch, it slams an uphill mile at you. This is when the game really demands your complete attention. Not only will you be dodging several incoming projectiles at once, but the terrain becomes much more tricky to maneuver around. It’s massively satisfying to successfully nail these tougher levels, especially once you have mastered the controls and the functionalities of play.
Moving back to the replay value, there’s plenty to be found in Dustoff Heli Rescue 2, hell there’s even an unlockable UFO for those that put in the time. Furthermore the game comes with leaderboard support, giving you all the ability to chase those chest slamming bragging rights. Another great addition to the game goes to the soundtrack, which has a very action-like approach and definitely injects more energy into the fields of play. I came away from Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 surprisingly satisfied. It would have been great to see more in-game goodies to purchase, but the aforementioned replay value alone is good enough for me. When you factor in the range of choppers, and on top of that the range of weaponry you can utilize, it’s hard to scoff at what’s on offer.
Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 is a fun arcade experience that packs a great deal of replay value. With some questionable and slightly frustrating design choices put to the side, the game delivers on its promise to keep you engaged and entertained from beginning to end.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.