Helldivers - PS Vita

Release Date:

March 03, 2015

Also on:

PS Vita PS3 PS4

Viewing USA:

Also on UK.
8.2

Summary:

Helldivers on the PS Vita is a hardcore, cooperative, twin stick shooter from the creators of Magicka. As part of the elite unit called the Helldivers, players must work together to protect Super Earth and defeat the enemies of mankind in an intense intergalactic war. Strap into your Hellpod and get ready to face mankind’s ultimate enemies on their own turf as the Helldivers in this high-octane, top-down shooter. Land on hostile alien worlds with a squad of up to four players and unleash your chosen combination of advanced weapons, air support and heavy-duty vehicles. Complete your objectives, evacuate before the enemy has time to react and then see how your success – or failure – impacts the intergalactic war effort.


avatar name

Posted:
2015-05-01

Darren_Summerell

Writer

PS Vita

8.2

Helldivers came to the PlayStation Vita on March 3rd 2015. The title was developed by Arrowhead Game Studios as a love letter to the sort of throwback arcade games we fell in love with as children of the early '90s. Utilizing the dual thumbstick shooting techniques that were so popular in nickel arcades, Helldivers quickly works its way into your brain until you can't help but blow a good hour or two with the game. Leaping into these arcade style games, published by small developers, is always a risk. There is the fear that you are throwing away good money investing in a company that hasn't done 'it' before. Thankfully from the onset this isn't an issue, and the PS Vita is the perfect device for gamers to experience this title on. Helldivers was also released for the PS3 and the PS4.

In order to enjoy Helldivers you have to know a little bit about science fiction from yesteryear. We can go all the way back to the '60s with the Robert Heinlen novel, 'Starship Troopers'. Starship Troopers was a title that followed young Private Rico and his mission to kill an alien species of bugs for the Federation. Heinlen portrayed Rico with nationalism and he portrayed the Federation as a fascists dream. It was all straight face. Heinlen believed in what he was writing. Then in the '90s Paul Verhoeven came along and adapted the science fiction novel into a film by the same name. Instead of playing it straight, which would have been near impossible, Verhoeven eschewed the whole story in exchange for an over the top satire of the 'ooh rah' military generation. And that is where Helldivers takes its cue.

It is the year 2084 and the Earth is no longer as it once was. All of the great countries of Earth have given up their individuality in order to form the Super Earth. The Super Earth isn't content being the baddest dudes in their own solar system and they soon decide to strike out and 'spread democracy' to the planets surrounding them. Much like Starship Troopers, this Super Earth makes enemies out of any alien creatures that they come across. Their goal is to dominate their planet, plant a flag, and add it to their list. And that is who you work for. You are essentially allied with the bad guys and there is no great twist at the end, revealing that you are better than them.

So as you can see the game takes itself so over the top serious that you sort of have to nod your head and just play along with it. There are allusions and metaphors for things that have happened in recent years (some of them being rather heavy handed). But they are not political and you can enjoy it for what it is. Let's look at what this game brings to the PS Vita.

You play as a Helldiver. You are one of the elite military units by which galactic domination is measured. You are the boots on the ground of an invasion that will spread across the entire universe. You are sent planet-to-planet in order to beat the aliens into submission. You are given an array of guns, allies at your back, and strategic missions to follow in order to make your path all the more clearer. Let's talk a little bit about these strange little planets.

So Helldivers is an isometric thumbstick shooter, shot from the top down. You'll be landing on these planets with this viewpoint in mind. You will be able to see your immediate surrounding area, but you'll have to move to get the camera to stretch itself. The planets you go to are largely uninspiring to look at from a technical standpoint. Everything is in 3D and the textures are nice, but the colors really don't pop off of the screen. What saves these planets from quickly devolving into an exercise of repetition is the procedural generation. Every playthrough will change the way that the planets represent themselves. This makes for a bit more of a replayability factor if you decide to restart the campaign or replay the whole game just for fun. This also adds another layer to the online multiplayer.

Combat in the game is simple. You move with your left thumbstick and you fire your gun with your right thumbstick. Action is almost non stop and you'll have to always be strafing around opponents. The game isn't dissimilar to Contra. Helldivers fits perfectly in the little PS Vita because it is so similar to so many mobile games on other devices. The action makes for an easy to dive in and dive out method of gameplay, which serves to extend titles like this.

When you are doing battle you will have to pay attention to alien structures, units, and traps. Your missions will carry you in certain patterns and push you in certain routes as you seek to accomplish them in order to ascertain world domination. You'll use various power ups to increase your killing ability as well as pick up a few toys along the way called Strategems.

Strategems are special items that can be deployed by punching in a quick code on the screen. These could take the form of turrets or any other sort of helpful combat aid. The twist on these is that you will have to deploy them in the heat of battle. You can't pause the game and do it. So pushing in that code will be really difficult when you are being swarmed by opposing units. It does make it more satisfying, though.

Helldivers can also be played online if you have internet access. You can join up to three other players in order to push through the difficult campaign. Helldivers is not shy about killing you off but it never feels cheap. You earn your deaths or earn your survival. For the PS Vita the action fits perfectly on the screen and we really enjoyed the title.

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Sony Computer Entertainment

Release Date:

March 03, 2015

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