Much like its mobile and PC-based predecessor, Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 is arcade-style helicopter sim that sees you moving left and right across a 2.5D plane in a variety of customisable whirly birds. Only three of this skyward machines were available in the first game, which increases to a much more satisfying nine this time around (with three extra vehicles to unlock as you go).
That mixture of mechanical vessels plays into how you approach each mission, with certain models suiting particular mission types. Jumping into a rescue copter will offer more room for transporting troops to a landing zone behind enemy lines - or provide winged salvation for those injured amid the gunfire - but they're low on firepower. Gunships won't give you much room for passengers, but they come armed to the teeth. It's a simple setup, but it feeds back into the core experience, urging you to pilot each chopper differently.
Its controls take some getting used, though. Since you're operating on a 2.5D plane, you don't use the analog stick to move - instead you use 'L' and 'R' to move left and right, while holding both will keep you in the air. It's an odd system to adapt to, and while we keep holding onto the left analog stick out of sheer muscle memory, it soon becomes second nature. The omission of any sort of touchscreen support, however, remains a strange choice for a device with such a large amount of display to utilise.
Since each small level almost always comes with an array of enemies to battle (we encounter armed trucks, SAM launchers and rifle towers in the first few hours, to name but a few), you'll almost certainly engage in some combat along the way - it's just a shame such interactions are purely automated. We appreciate why such a decision was made, but it does diminish DHR2's player agency all the same. Thankfully, how you fly does affect how much the AI of your gunners engage the enemy, so there's the option for aggressive play should feel the urge to enter the danger zone.
The missions we enlist for in the first few hours are all bite-size and compact, and it's a design template that works well for a 'pick up and play' title. Each mission is filled with things to do, including engaging enemy vehicles, rescuing friendly soldiers, delivering supplies and collecting dog tags. Those collectibles are a cute little touch, requiring you to carefully manoeuvre your bladed beast into all sorts of nooks and crannies to find them. With only a certain amount of health at a time, there's a pleasing tension to risking it all for shiny prize. You can also use Landing Zones to fill up health and bullets mid-battle, which requires coins earned through play. With funds coming thick and fast, its an in-game currency that's yet to get in the way of our time with Dustoff Heli Rescue 2.
Look out for our full review next week on Thursday 25th January when we'll give our final verdict on Invictus Games' explosive sequel. Let us know your thoughts on the Dustoff Heli Rescue 2 in the comments section below...