There is a lot to be said for 3D graphics. Modern games are judged on the quality of their 3D engines, some of which game bring environments to life, with believable characters exploring realistic landscapes in an attempt to keep reality suspended for as long as possible and entice the player into the polygonal, texture mapped worlds.
However, sometimes good, old fashioned 2D graphics can be as awesome looking as any 3D engine can produce, and here we have a case in point, Blimp HD.
You play as the blimp pilot Zed Pelin, set with the task of helping with the war against the alien invaders of the planet Solbot. You do this by rescuing stranded soldiers and scientists, bombing installations and enemies, placing mines and performing various other tasks, all to a strict time limit.
The blimp controls exactly as you would expect, with the ability to tilt the craft left and right and with thrust only allowed in the direction you are tilting. Which, as you can only tilt about 45 degrees each way, means you have to rely on gravity to slow the blimps vertical climb, so learning to account for momentum is the key to success.
For the most part, you will be rescuing little people on most of the levels. A beacon shines out a pulse from where the little person is, and you have to get there, land and pick them up and get them to the platform the next pulse comes from. This task is made more difficult by a selection of traps and enemies. Fire chutes, steam pipes and gas clouds are joined by enemy blimps, gun turrets and more, all out to destroy your craft. Luckily you have a couple of ways of fighting back. Enemy blimp can be taken out with a couple of barges, at the expense of some energy, and on some levels, you are given some bombs with which to fight back with.
The bombs can only be dropped vertically, so it takes some good timing and thrust control to take out some of the more difficult gun turrets.
The nature of the controls means that it is quite easy to make mistakes and get into a panic and fluff a level, and can prove frustrating, even if you know its your own fault.
The game does get difficult, but not unreasonably so, as the levels are all only a few minutes long each, so it’s no hardship to start over when you fail, although this does eventually count against the game, as you will no doubt have seen everything it has to offer within a few hours and explored all the environments to the full.
But what environments they are. Each level has been painstakingly hand painted, and the result is nothing short of stunning. Each level has amazing colours, with incredibly rich details. They look like they have been taken straight from a high quality comic book, and I’d even go so far to say that they are almost worth the price of entry alone. The graphics go hand in hand with a beautiful soundtrack, with a haunting feel that gives the action an epic nature that just wouldn’t be there otherwise.
Overall this is, graphically and sonically, one of the most beautiful games currently available on any platform. The gameplay is good, with an innovative control system, but it really is over all too soon. Too short and slightly frustrating, but also brilliant and beautiful, this is one of those games that will prove hard to forget.