Friday, June 06, 2008

WhiteboardWar: ChopRaider

I'm doing these in strict order of when I played them, so there'll be some not-so-great games mixed in with the good games. (Why did I try this one again? Oh yeah, I was mousing over what other people were playing, and it looked like it had an interesting name, so I decided to try it out. This method of game selection actually hasn't worked out so great for me, and yet I keep trying it. The moral, I guess, is that you should give your game an interesting name. Note that Sonny utterly fails this test, but it had enough buzz that I played it anyway...but we'll get to that soon enough.)

As far as game play goes, the game itself is an extremely traditional top-down shooter. You command the titular ChopRaider, a helicopter which is a "raider" despite apparently packing enough weaponry to destroy several small cities, equipped with bombs for dropping on ground targets and a gun for shooting at...well, mostly other ground targets, actually, and the occasional plane. The map is naturally packed with various things shooting at you, and your job is to shoot them first. There's also, in some maps, the obligatory POWs to rescue, although the game doesn't really seem to care very much if you actually rescue them or not.

Anyway, it's a pretty familiar formula. One somewhat unexpected feature is that when you kill a gun, it doesn't stay dead; after a while, the enemy War Factory will rebuild it. The only way to stop this is, naturally, to destroy the War Factory, which conveniently (and somewhat inexplicably) blows up everything in its sector; destroying all the War Factories on a map will clear that map. There's also factories which build smaller, mobile things to shoot at you (ports, which build destroyers, airbases, which build fighters, and tank factories, which build, well, you can figure it out); taking these out will destroy all of whatever they've been producing. You don't have to destroy these, but it makes life somewhat easier.

It is literally impossible to lose this game. If you die, you simply respawn on your carrier (with a slight deduction from your score). Now, there is a timer in the upper-right corner, so naturally I figured that the penalty for dying really came in the fact that it would cause you to lose precious time and thus increased the odds that you would run out of time before completing the mission. Imagine my surprise, then, the first time I saw the timer reach zero and blithely continue going. Apparently, the only penalty for running out of time is that you don't get any points for that mission. Since points are, to me, somewhat less interesting than just completing the game, this really isn't a particularly meaningful penalty. (There is one possible exception: The airbases occasionally produce bombers which will bomb your carrier. When this happens, a warning tone sounds. So maybe it's possible that if you're extremely careless, the enemy will sink your carrier, which would presumably cause you to lose. I was pretty careless, though, and nothing particularly bad ever happened to my carrier, so maybe this is just an empty threat.)

On to the presentation. The "WhiteboardWar" apparently refers to the art style, which looks as if someone has been drawing these things on a whiteboard (though apparently they have much finer markers than I do!); it's a simple and clean look. There's no music, just the background "whup" of the helicopter blades, which gets a little monotonous after a while, and the sound effects, which are also simple but effective.

Summing things up, then, there's really nothing about this game which makes it stand out from the pack and makes it an interesting game to play for more than about 15 minutes or so. It's competently executed, certainly, but there's just not enough imagination at its core. I rated it 3/5.

(One addendum which I forgot to mention: While ChopRaider's interface is pretty minimal, it does at least save your progress and allow you to replay previous missions. You would think this would be a pretty basic expectation in a Flash game, but you would be surprised how poor the replay features are in some Flash games.)

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