For those who have forgotten about Shank, the Tarantino-inspired run-gun-and-stab infused title will feel right at home and genuinely impressed by what a majority of Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken has to offer players on the PSN. Taking a majority of its inspiration from the same vein, players are cast as the ever-encroachingly cliché character who seethes badass from every pour as if birthed from an orgy performed by the entire cast of the Expendables. Oh, except this time he’s a chicken.
A rippling, muscle-bound chicken that would give even Marcus Fenix a run for his money in the annual “Conceal Your Neck with Muscle” contests, and unsurprisingly that’s all you need to know about him. The narrative is thinner than a supermodel during swimsuit season, yet this still somehow fails to be a debilitating factor. And despite trying to ram musically-driven plot down the throat of whoever happens to be consuming this content, what attempts to intrinsically improve upon the overall atmosphere of Rocketbirds only holds it back slightly.
The real shining point of Hardboiled Chicken is the fact that the inherent mechanics are, for the most part, incredibly solid and fun. Taking developmental cues from both Shank and Rocket Knight, the resulting amalgamation is a pedigree of qualitative entertainment. Run n’ Gun takes place in the form of filling every enemy avian that stands in your way with as gratuitous amounts of lead as one can muster. Over time, players accumulate greater means of destructive capability, but the basic underlying point is to kill just about everything that strays into your characters sights.
When taking to air via a giant rocket strapped to the back of the main character, it becomes an entire different form of gameplay. Essentially reduced to flying with 360 degrees of fire, the objective boils down to shooting up larger objectives such as an avian-manned zeppelin. Throughout the course of play, enemies equipped with their own rockets will attempt to shoot you down. It feels a bit ungainly at times, but after a bit of time feels a lot more solid.
Occasionally, the game will allow players to use gadgets to take control of enemy soldiers, but this is a bit rare despite being an enjoyable aspect. It adds a bit of sneaking to the mix and, combined with the surprise of enemies when you heap loads of “friendly fire” upon them, makes for a laudable change of pace. Yet, this is only a small detour in the grand scheme of the game.
Ultimately, the game is fun, but arguably so. If you’ve caught yourself looking for a game to replace adequate retro offerings such as Contra or Bionic Commando and contemporaries such as Shank and Rocket Knight, then by all means, Rocketbirds might be at the top of your wish list. However, it’s a game that can be a bit trying and frustrating for anyone else to want to play. Even with the price of admission being relatively accessible, this warning still stands. That being said, there is a demo for Rocketbirds, which can be found here or via the PSN.
Final Score: 3/5
Full Disclosure: Rocketbirds was played over the course of several hours on the Playstation 3. The game is currently available as a downloadable title exclusively on the PSN for $11.99.