Heliborne - PC Review

Heliborne is an interesting beast, taking elements of MMOs and mixing it with vehicular combat. This gives it a leg up in the gaming community, if only due to its rather unique premise (though it is reminiscent of World of Tanks - but with more speed and airborne antics). The gameplay loop here is addictive and the game is well enough designed that it is fun to play despite some so-so presentation values.

If you try to just jump in and play Heliborne, you're going to be in for a rough time. It is not that the game itself is really all that hard, but it is an interesting mix of arcade and simulation gameplay. The developers went for some pretty applause-worth realism in the helicopters and how they function, and maybe it is just because I am not a frequent flyer when it comes to gaming. That being said, I found the controls to be pretty darned responsive once I got used to them.

As for the attention to detail on the helicopters, that leads to the mixed bag that is the visual presentation. The actual machines themselves look pretty good, and naturally when you are playing, that is where your eye is drawn. That being said, when you take the time to look about, the environments are actually pretty bland. Textures are unimpressive and frankly the different landscapes look like they would be right at home a generation or two of console back. Thankfully the audio acquits itself somewhat better. I found none of the music particularly memorable, but the sound effects are at least functional. They rather remind me of playing a game like World of Warcraft or almost any other MMO. They let you know when something is hitting, giving you some feedback on your own success rate but also serving as a sort of warning to you when there is something else happening nearby.

Now, if this was just a dogfight game, I suspect that Heliborne would get old rather quickly, but because you have different classes of helicopter that play out different roles (troop transport, protection, offense, etc), there is quite a nice layer of strategy to the gameplay. Hopefully we will see even more gameplay modes in Heliborne. You have a few right now such outright aireborne fighting and a Capture team game, but I think the potential is here to add some more eventually.

The single player missions are solid if unspectacular. They provide a sort of live training that helps to better prepare you for actual players, though the AI is of course never going to be as unpredictable as an actual human on the other side of the screen. There is a nice sense of leveling / progression found in other games like this that does its job and had me on several occasions going "well, just one more game...", which is always a good sign.

Heliborne is a really solid game, despite somewhat antiquated environmental graphics. With more than three dozen different helicopters, there is a lot to see and try out. I would like to see some more modes eventually baked in, but I consider that a good thing - the game can be expanded upon. It has a really solid core with some interesting ideas that play out well in single player and even better in multiplayer. It is not a deep simulation, but kudos to the team for finding a way to make the different vehicles feel different and viable from one another.

Game Information

JetCat Games
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Nick


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