By Ferry "Sadhonker" Adams on December 4, 2015
Please pay attention, ladies and gentlemen. What do you mean: “Why?” I’ll tell you why: Super Earth is under attack! Our whole way of life is being threatened from all sides. How will we get by without our ‘managed democracy’, in other words, what will we think or do when there’s no one left to actually tell us what to think and do?! You don’t suppose we have to… no, that would be ridiculous... you don’t think we actually… have to think for ourselves, do you?
Although this might seem a bit far-fetched to some of you, but for the citizens of Super-Earth this is everyday reality. Democracy is managed, in order to make elections more predictable and the people are told exactly what to think and do. The best part of governing a bunch of half-brained sheep has to be the fact that whatever you tell them, they will assume is true. So the leaders of Super-Earth launch a series of TV commercials (which I think is a brilliant plan! where else would you find such a lot of brainless pawns to indoctrinate?) calling people to join an ‘elite’ group of armed forces: the Helldivers, humanities last line of defense in these troubled times. This just goes to show that even in the future, wars will need cannon fodder.
Nevertheless, we join the Helldivers and are sent on a bunch of missions in order to restore balance to the universe. In this case, this means that Super-Earth will probably be in control of the whole damn thing, but what the hell; let’s get this show on the proverbial road! After a brief training session, we are deemed to be experts in just about everything. Whether, it’s running or tossing grenades, reloading our guns or crawling beneath life fire; we are the absolute cream of the crop. Hell yeah! Are we the best heroes this galaxy has ever seen, or what?
But then, ladies and gentlemen, the space-excrement hits the warp-core; we are actually sent into battle. Now, I wouldn’t say that we suck, per se. Let’s just say that if this war ever reaches your galaxy, I would consider moving! What seemed to go excellent during basic training is not going quite as excellent in the field. Where, during training, you could focus on one ability and take your time, you now have to focus on every ability at once in less time than it takes a prostitute to get laid in a bar full of sailors that have just return from a very, very, very, VERY long time at sea.
Now, some of you might think this is a bad thing. And this is exactly where some of you are dead wrong; it’s absolutely awesome! I just love the feeling of a rushed training and the feeling of slight panic when you’re trying to remember all the button combinations when under fire after just having landed on a hostile planet. But when you do finish your first mission, you feel like the hero Super Earth needs.
Helldivers brilliantly combines top-down action shooting with stealth and strategy gameplay. So it’s not always wise to start running towards your enemy and unload clip after clip of ammo in their general direction. This was where my first tour of duty went horribly wrong, and I’ll tell you why in a minute. No my friends, it’s far more sensible to scope out the area and see if there are alternate routes you could take, taking out enemies before they raise alarms that attract even more enemies. It’s this level of strategy that makes Helldivers a challenging but fun game.
Your arsenal is quite diverse and can be fine-tuned to suit your preferred playing style. Pistols, rifles, grenades, even air-drops; you can make use of everything that the Super Earth scientists have cooked up in the last few decades. I just wished they’d made the ammo clips a bit bigger, so I didn’t have to reload so much. On the other hand, the fairly small amount of ammo your gun holds, as well as the amount of ammo you are able to carry makes you think twice before going into spray-and-pray mode. It is imperative that you aim carefully, so as not to waste too much of your precious rounds.
Although Helldivers is meant to be played with more than one person (preferably four), it is actually fun to play by yourself. True, it’s much harder to complete missions or even make it through a sizeable portion of a map when you’re all alone, but hey, never let it be said that I shy away from a challenge! Plus, I never got into the whole online gaming thing (yes, I’m THAT old… fashioned), so I usually decide to brave the dangers all by myself. But, I did make an exception for Helldivers and played a bit of local co-op. And it is with great confidence that I can say: for those of you who actually enjoy online (or offline) multiplayer co-op gaming, here’s a bit of good news: Helldivers does this extremely well!
I don’t think I can name another game in this genre that forces players to not only be all they can be, but also forces them to think and plan ahead and be careful where they shoot, and here’s why. Are you ready? Here it comes… Friendly fire! Now, I can hear some of you think: “You numbskull, just turn that off” Well, good advice, only… you can’t! Friendly fire is in the always on mode and I have to confess that I love it! The fact that you can’t turn it off, forces you to be aware of where your teammates are and what they are doing. And I can only imagine that, when you have found four players that match play-style wise, you can form one kick-ass Helldiver team. Alas, I haven’t been able to play Helldivers as much as I would have wanted to, but I’ve seen what it can do and I can only say that it does it extremely well!
Helldiver’s visuals are up to standards; the characters and environments look beautiful and the particle effects give it that slightly over the top sci-fi feel. The cutscenes are really cool and look awesome! When I first saw the intro of the game, I was transported back to 1998, watching Starship Troopers for the first time. The premise is about the same, with a bit of 1984 added to the mix. The story is not that elaborate, but hey, neither was Starship Troopers, so who cares. It’s simple and straight-forward. We’re the good guys, they’re the bad guys, let’s go kill them!
One last thing that’s definitely worth mentioning is that every player worldwide contributes to the survival of Super Earth. The more missions you finish in a sector, the higher the Helldiver influence over that sector becomes. When the influence is at max capacity, that sector is ‘liberated’ and will eventually be under Super Earth’s control. Home team: one, nasty other dudes: zero… and there was much rejoicing! But seriously, I personally think that this is a very cool game mechanic, which immerses players even further into the main story and increases their desire to do their absolute best.
Let me tell you; it had been a while since I played a decent top-down shooter. I think the last one was probably ‘Expendable’ on my old Sega Dreamcast. And where that game featured a lot of frantic running about, about a zillion bullets flying per second and had little need for strategy, Helldivers takes the genre into the 21st century. It’s a game that requires a lot more finesse than what I’m used to. This brings me back to telling you about the failure of my very first mission. Because the last top-down shooter I had played was all out blasting extravaganza, I kind of tried the same approach when they transported me down to my first real mission. Well, things didn’t quite work out the way I planned… Let’s just say that I died very, very quickly. Remember the prostitute comparison I made a few paragraphs back? Exactly… very, VERY quickly!
Although the game I’ve played is the Beta version of the game, I have high hopes for this title. It’s got everything a good co-op shooter needs and more. Good thing this game is set to launch on December 7th, so the time we’ll have to wait isn’t that long! My advice would be to go out and join the Helldivers as soon as you possibly can! And who knows, perhaps we’ll meet each other on a desolate planet in some distant galaxy. I’ll probably be the guy that get’s shot a lot and needs to be patched up every ten seconds, but you know what they say: A guys gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. Plus, it’s for a good cause: the survival of Super Earth and our way of life, whatever that may be!