Content Type: Gaming Reviews
Date: December 24, 2017
Rally Copters is a physics focused helicopter obstacle course racing game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS4 and PS Vita. Depth First Games was founded in 2010 to specifically direct their efforts into creating purely gameplay driven experiences as a priority over everything else in the videogame industry as the experienced team members had already endured. Depth First Games is a small development studio of only three people who have already tasted success with their first-ever game GelaTennis having won the Best of IndieNomicon award in 2013. Can Rally Copters become the go-to physics based obstacle course game?
A unique medal system allows players to earn a bronze, silver, gold or platinum medal for each level based upon their fastest time set, although you may be stripped of the specific medal you have earned or have it downgraded as the times required for each medal will dynamically become harder to achieve as other players from around the world improve their times; therefore creating an extremely competitive set of time trials.
There are a total of 27 levels comprising of three phases including nine levels per phase featuring paths that in some levels will split into two with one of the two sides requiring skilful piloting to potentially save you time, while a path warning indicator provides important knowledge on which of the two paths is the most dangerous side to navigate. Every level contains all manner of hard to navigate obstacles including a gust of wind that will blow your helicopter backwards which is particularly difficult in a confined space, columns closing inwards from both sides, windmill blades quickly rotating, axes swinging back and forth and much more besides. Checkpoint system involves piloting the helicopter through each of the circles which represent a checkpoint that you can resume from if you crash your helicopter.
Ship design is appropriately varied as there are four helicopters to unlock by reaching the fifth level in each phase in which you must collect every flag in the level in order to earn the new helicopter with each helicopter having varying attributes. For instance, your first helicopter named Mosquito has the same quality of handling to your second helicopter Little Bird which has double the power for better acceleration, although Fly Wolf has double the handling and full power in comparison to the final helicopter XHL which actually has less power, but is the only helicopter to have full handling capabilities.
There are a variety of advanced techniques and manoeuvres to learn and perfect throughout the course of the game to shave seconds off your level completion times. Techniques and manoeuvres include pulling down on the right analogue stick to perform a helicopter dive manoeuvre to utilise gravity to your advantage, while flip-dodging your helicopter with the right analogue stick will cause it to phase-out momentarily allowing players to move beyond a previously unavoidable dangerous obstacle, although timing is crucial and the technique does not work on every surface or structure, amongst other techniques and manoeuvres.
Rally Copters supports cross-buy between the PS4 and Vita, although it unfortunately does not support cross-save, so you will not be able to continue from your previous progression on the Vita version when playing the PS4 version and vice versa. Cross-buy presents a superb amount of value as it means that you will be purchasing the PS4 and Vita versions of the game with just a single purchase.
The controls are appropriately mapped to the Vita with a twin-stick control scheme consisting of changing the direction of the left analogue stick to engage the throttle and manage the pitch of the helicopter; changing the direction of the right analogue stick to alter the way the helicopter is facing or perform a dive manoeuvre; pressing triangle to restart from the current checkpoint; pressing square to restart from the current level; pressing select to toggle between having the guideline on or off; and pressing start to display the pause menu. Tapping the touch pad on the DualShock 4 controller toggles the guideline on or off, while the controller vibrates after having collided with an obstacle or crashed your helicopter, alongside the light bar which produces a light shade of blue and yellow for player 1 and 2 respectively and briefly a dark tone of red when colliding with an obstacle or crashing your helicopter and green when successfully reaching a checkpoint.
Graphically, Rally Copters is quite stylistic with a vector-based arcade retro art approach reminiscent to such games as attack helicopter game Zeewolf on the Amiga, Tron, the Star Wars arcade game, Metal Gear Solid: VR Missions and more besides, while the performance maintains a consistent pace allowing players to perform the required aerial manoeuvres.
The presentation of the game is excellent with a great user interface across various menus such as the main menu, level selection menus, hangar menu, online leaderboards and gameplay menus with support for navigation via the left analogue stick, directional pad and face buttons, although it does not include support for navigation via the right analogue stick and rear touch pad. The background of the menu screens is covered by an obstacle course comprised of vector-based arcade graphics with the title logo in the centre of the menu as it frequently changes colour as a helicopter hovers to the right of the title logo.
Sound effects include countdown beeps building up to the start of a level, rotation of helicopter blades, a beep for each time a checkpoint has been reached, collecting flags, columns smashing into each other and collisions with any of the obstacles, while the soundtrack consists of electronic music on the menus and rock music during gameplay. There is no DualShock 4 speaker implementation, although it could have produced beeps counting down to the start of each level and a beep for every occasion a checkpoint is reached, while it perhaps could have alternatively provided a further layer of rotating helicopter blades.
The trophy list includes 12 trophies with 8 bronze trophies, 3 silver trophies and 1 gold trophy. The easiest trophies include the Determined bronze trophy for reaching 50 tries on any given level by simply restarting from the previous checkpoint; the Crash Landing bronze trophy for crashing your helicopter after crossing the finishing line on any level; and the Nailed It bronze trophy for obtaining a full landing bonus. The hardest trophies have to be The Specialist silver trophy for earning a platinum medal on any level as the times required to be awarded with a platinum medal will gradually reduce, therefore leaving less of a margin for error to improve upon another player’s time and the Never Gonna Give You Up gold trophy for completing all phase 3 levels with the Mosquito helicopter as the final few levels of the game are harder than the rest due to more obstacles and less checkpoints which must be navigated by a helicopter that has the lowest quality in the power and handling statistics. It is estimated that depending upon skill and a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips that it would take between 2 to 10 hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no particular difficulty levels, although the medal system provides a unique approach to an ever changing difficulty curve by effectively updating the time required to earn a specific medal as players improve their own respective times. However, a large area of the difficulty curve is attempting to overcome such a vast variety of obstacles which can be hard to approach given their differing size and speed.
Rally Copters provides an incredibly entertaining dynamic split-screen multiplayer component for 2 players on PS4 which is even better when you consider that the split-screen multiplayer levels are actually separate from the single player resulting in an additional 13 levels. The end goal sounds pretty simple as both players attempt to navigate through each of the checkpoints and race to land their helicopter first to be crowned the winner, but there are many obstacles that stand in the way. The dynamic split-screen allows both players to be on completely opposite sides of the level without any interference which massively enhances the split-screen multiplayer experience by providing full freedom of movement for both players. It would have been amazing to see a local version of the online medal system within split-screen multiplayer in which both players would have been competing for a medal, while the statistics would be saved resulting in both players being reminded of who currently has ownership of each level’s medal. The bronze, silver, gold and platinum medals could have been retained in split-screen multiplayer by having a standard time for each medal category in every level; therefore even the winning player could return to the same level in split-screen multiplayer and be attempting to improve their own performance for a better medal.
Badland: Game of the Year Edition on Vita proved that up to 4 players could be efficiently designated a control scheme on a single Vita, so it is disappointing to see no simultaneous multiplayer for 2 players on Vita as it could have reflected the PS4 version’s split-screen multiplayer albeit with one player’s controls mapped to the left of the Vita and the second player’s controls mapped to the right of the Vita. Further methods of implementing multiplayer on Vita includes cross-play between Vita and PS4 with one player on Vita and another on PS4, ad-hoc multiplayer for 2 players on Vita and a pass the Vita multiplayer feature in which two players take turns in their attempt to set a faster time on a course than the other player or perhaps even trying to survive the obstacle courses for as many courses and as much time as possible in comparison to the other player.
The online leaderboards are focused on global rankings and friends rankings for the platinum, gold, silver and bronze rankings for the 15 fastest times with each leaderboard containing each player’s rank; name (PSN ID); and the quickest combined time for completing every level in addition to displaying your projected position on the overall rankings which depends upon how you measure up in comparison to times set by other players. There are additional online leaderboards that outline the top 5 fastest times and your current positioning for each of the individual 27 levels in the global rankings and friends rankings with a separate online leaderboard for each of the four helicopters, although you have to unlock the online leaderboards by first completing the level and unlocking the helicopter you want to see the fastest times set by.
Rally Copters’ replayability stems from a total of 27 levels in single player on Vita and PS4, four helicopters with unique attributes to unlock, ever changing difficulty curve revolving around a medal system relating to the fastest times set by players which are displayed on the online leaderboards and dynamic split-screen competitive multiplayer races for 2 players throughout 13 additional levels on PS4 which will collectively have players returning to play on both Vita and PS4 for what is technically infinite replay value.
- Title: Rally Copters
- Developer: Depth First Games
- Publisher: Depth First Games
- System: PS4/PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross-Buy: Yes (PS4 and PS Vita)
- Cross-Play: No
- Players: 1 (Vita)/1-2 (PS4)/Online Leaderboards
- Memory Card Required: 177MB/Hard Drive Space Required: 210.7MB