Say what you will about a brilliant narrative and fantastic visuals. When it comes to pure fun, the co-operative shooter genre stands above most. Think about the best gaming stories you have with your friends.
Sure, the odd one might be a World of Warcraft or a Mario Kart story. But by and large, games like Quake 3, Counter Strike and even Left 4 Dead are capable of creating moments of unequaled hilarity. Helldivers is likely to create some stories of its own. Long after you’ve forgotten what the plot was or how cleverly the enemies were placed, you will recall the time when you reached the extraction point with a sliver of health. Or, you’ll remember the time when all but one of your teammates died early in a level and the last person frantically defended yourself before finally, hilariously, accepting their fate. This isn’t a perfect game, but it’s a lot of fun.
Is generic space opera fare – an intergalactic war is in progress, and you as the humans are fighting against three separate races. There’s the cyborgs – humans once, but now part man, part machine and all bad news. There’s the mandatory race of hideous, deformed bugs. The final race you’re at war against is the Illuminate, a technologically superior race of beings. Yes, you aren’t the only person who just had flashbacks about StarCraft and/or Starship Troopers. The game keeps things pretty tongue-in-cheek, even slipping in the odd reference to our present-day problems. The cyborgs have been labeled terrorists by the government of ‘Super Earth’ due to their propensity for using suicide bombers.
The war in Helldivers takes place on a galactic scale. You can view the current status of you and your enemy forces via the War Theater from your ship. The theater divides the overall map into three separate sections, each of which are broken down into smaller regions. You can claim these regions once you have gathered up enough points by finishing missions on the planets in the region in question. Yes, the ‘region’ is home to many planets. Just in case you weren’t completely sure about the scale of this war. Once you’ve finished your battles on the smaller planets, you can rally your troops and head to the alien world to finish the war once and for all. Yes, Starship Troopers. And the alien world is a tremendous challenge. Without proper co-ordination and gear, you will be defeated. Once you’ve conquered all three of the worlds on your war theater, the game concludes. Occasionally, your team of helldivers will be called upon to defend a strategic location if an enemy force gets through. You’ll gain experience and levels in each battle, which in turn unlocks more powerful weapons and armor.
The Game Play:
When you’re going through the objectives on a planet, you might find the escort missions and capture-the-flag style stages dreary. Where the game truly shines is when you’re indulging in some co-op combat. You can play with up to three other people as an elite team of helldivers, all with different skill sets, trying to make your way through hostile territory. Before your team is deployed on a planet, the team leader chooses the landing zone, weapon and equipment loadout, and even how the team will make its way to the objective. The equipment goes by the name of stratagems here. Different stratagems offer different tactical and combat options. There are enemy location indicators, extra ammo or more powerful weapons and several others. You can unlock additional stratagems once you complete your missions on a given planet. In addition, the kind of equipment you choose greatly depends on the terrain and the kind of enemies you will be going up against. Cyborgs, for example, wear heavy armor and can shrug off bullets if you don’t hit their human bits. The bug armies have thick spiked skin. The Illuminate attack with technologically advanced machines and snipers.
Once you’re on the ground, you have to make up combat strategies on the fly. If your vicinity is free of hostiles, you can avoid detection and scurry along, eliminating any scouts or patrols you encounter along the way. If, however, you come across an enemy force, you’ll have to indulge in an all-out firefight. The weapons you have at your disposal are sufficiently diverse, and they all leave impressive trails of gore strewn across the battlefield. If you’re used to twin-stick shooting games, you will be right at home in Helldivers. You might want to tone down your Rambo instincts a little though. This game is, above all, a tactical shooter. Oh, and there’s friendly fire to worry about. If you’re playing with a newbie, expect lots of unintentional hilarity. On top of everything else, you have to contend with the fact that ammo is scarce. Make no mistake about it – even if you are a tactical shooter veteran, you will die often during this game. Death isn’t the end though, since you can call down a stratagem which revives a comrade.
Helldivers is a fantastic experience when you’re playing co-op. you have to think on your feet, and outlasting or outsmarting a tough enemy force is extremely satisfying. Friends will become heroes when they singlehandedly turn the tide of battle by ambushing those sneaky snipers which threatened to end your mission abruptly. Gather a bunch of friends, your beverage of choice, and fire up Helldivers. Prepare for war.
Helldivers Game Review Score: 8.8 Out of 10