iPhone Game Review: Heli Rescue
You command a fleet of search and rescue helicopters. It's up to you to make sure everyone gets rescued while ensuring the choppers don't crash and stay fueled up. Put your line drawing skills to the test in this neat take on the routing management genre.
Once the game loads, you'll be presented with a number of options available from the Main Menu. One thing that I really appreciate is that if you press "More Games", the game asks for confirmation and warns you that pressing 'yes' will open Safari and close the app. At the upper left there is a slider letting you control the sound effects volume and an icon letting you play songs from your iPod library. Select "Info" for a handy description on how to play the game.
Select "Enlist Now" to start the game. At the next screen, the game includes another very nice feature - the ability to have multiple portfolios each with their own top scores and achievements. This is great if you have to share your iPhone or iTouch with someone else and don't want them messing up your scores. You can also decide whether to submit your scores online or not.
There are currently only 3 playable maps included in the game and two must be unlocked by playing the map previous to it. Each map presents its own challenges in terms of location of helipads, terrain, and the fleet available to you. Each map is noticeably more challenging than the one before it because of this.
Heli Rescue's gameplay really offers a nice twist that elevates it above other line drawing games. Not only do you have to make sure the skies remain friendly and keep choppers from crashing, but you also have to rescue people and keep the fleet fueled up at the same time.
To direct choppers, just draw a line and they will travel along the indicated route. Each time you successfully draw a path to a person needing rescue or a helipad, you are met with a pretty piercing 'ding'. Each helicopter has a different carrying capacity, and they differ slightly in speed. The one capacity chopper can fly noticeably faster than the 4 capacity chopper. To refuel a helicopter, simply have it land at a helipad.
Your primary mission is search and rescue. People needing help appear on the map surrounded by small, difficult-to-see, concentric green circles. Leave them too long and those circles turn mustard yellow, and then to red. If you don't reach a person in time and they die, your mission has failed and the game is over. In addition to this, the number of people that need to be rescued at a single location will vary from one, two, or four. You must pay attention to this and decide which helicopter will most efficiently be able to pick up the stranded people. Once a helicopter is filled, route it back to a helipad to deliver the people and refuel if you need it. You can choose any available helipad for a helicopter so they are not color dependent.
Heli Rescue's graphics for the maps, helicopters, and people are really nice. While they are tiny, you can quickly tell when a rescue is for a single person or multiple people. Each of the helicopters is also distinct in appearance as well, and it is very easy to tell how much capacity a chopper has and how much is filled. The maps have polished details like animated water and light clouds. The level selection menus are really nice looking and clearly indicate how many of each type of helicopter will be availabe, the number of helipads, your best score, and your average score for that map.
The one thing I really have a big problem with is the green status circles. They are truly difficult to see and blend in way too well with the green grassy background. They really need to be more "glowy" like maybe a brighter lime green in color. Each of the following colors for the status could then also be much brighter. Several times I could hear a person calling for help, but it took some real looking to spot them. This meant time lost getting them help and, meanwhile, other survivors kept appearing.
The helicopter sounds in Heli Rescue sound really good; however, I did not like some of the other special effects sounds. The 'ding' for a successfully drawn route could be fairly piercing. The calls for help from people sounded like a squeaky toy. I would have much rather heard a brief "Help, help!" or "Uh, oh!".
I also dreaded having a chopper run low on fuel as a really annoying and nagging buzzing alarm noise would go off every couple of seconds until you could get the chopper back to a helipad. You could be listening to this repetitive noise for quite a number of seconds considering the distances to get across the map and the rather slow flight speed of the choppers. I would much appreciate an automated sounding alarm voice saying just once, "Low Fuel" accompanied by a small, non-repeating alarm noise. Also, use a brighter visual indicator or have the outline of the chopper glow a little red, perhaps - something that would give me more of a visual indicator of who was low on fuel. Again, I found it difficult to figure out exactly who was low on fuel because the color used for the low fuel was a nice shade of brown that blended in with the background.
Also, you can listen to the music on your device, but the games does not come with its own background music.
-excellent gameplay - having to juggle rescuing, routing, and fuel management made the game fun and a refreshing challenge
-beautifully designed menus, employee folders, and hi-score tables
-game allows multiple users - handy for sharing a device
-local and global scores
-game prompts you for confirmation before leaving the app - very considerate
-nice looking maps with animated clouds and water
-green status circles very difficult to see against the green of the maps
-several sounds were just plain annoying and way too repetitive
-the helicopters move fairly slowly - it takes 30 seconds for the 4 capacity chopper to fly from one corner to the opposite diagonal corner on the screen and a little over 10 seconds for the 1 capacity chopper to make the same journey, this really tested my patience especially if the big chopper was running low on fuel and the low fuel buzzer was going off the entire way
-no background music
Overall, Heli Rescue does a lot of important things very well, but really kind of annoyed me in some of the small details. The game has a great mix of routing and strategy that makes it really fun to play. The helicopters are all responsive when drawing routes, and you have a nice visual indicator of when a good path is drawn.
For me I just did not like the sounds chosen for the game, from the squeaky toy help to the really annoying low fuel buzzer. Also, the green circles were hard for me to see and I was definitely doing 'search' and rescue to find some of the people needing help.
Things I would love to see are a fast-forward button where you could speed things up to 1.5 times current speed and then 2 times current speed or having the helicopter velocity be altered by the player's drawing speed. Draw slowly for the standard speed or draw more quickly for increased velocity at the cost of more fuel use. These would be useful in the beginning of a map and for those who are impatient or want an extra challenge. Also, it would be awesome to see maps with other terrain and colors besides green. A canyon rescue, ski slope rescue, urban rescue, and even a map requiring some water rescues would be neat additions.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: -4- maps, menus, and graphics are really nice and polished; however the green circles made playing difficult
Sound: -3.5- several of the sounds were just plain annoying and way too repetitive
Controls: -5- choppers very responsive to routing, visual indicator of well drawn routes
Gameplay: -5- mix of rescue, routing, and fuel management gives this game really nice depth
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Use the best chopper for the job. If it's a group rescue, don't send the one capacity chopper or you will leave people behind whose status will only get worse.
-Watch fuel consumption on the big four capacity chopper.
-Keep all of your choppers busy and rescue the survivors who have been on the map longest first.
Developer: Distinctive Developments Ltd
Release Date: August 19, 2009
Genre: Strategy/Line Drawing
Buy Game: iTunes App Store
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