Article written by Peter Chapman.
Published on 14/07/2010 at 01:00 PM.
Helicopters, humour, skill and frustration. Landit Bandit can be summarised by these four words and yet that summary would be selling the game a little short.
The story is delivered via a series of cartoon-styled images and text, presenting you with reasons for being where you are, doing what you’re doing and wanting to get to where you’re trying to get to. Essentially it’s a narrative which has been shoe-horned in to give us a reason to keep playing with the mechanics of the game. That’s not to say that the story is without merit though, there is a healthy undercurrent of self-aware humour in there.
The mechanics of gameplay are where Landit Bandit earns its corn. Basically it works in much the same way as classics like Lunar Lander and PlayStation Store stable-mates like PixelJunk Shooter and Gravity Crash. R2 increases your thrust and releasing it causes your craft to start falling. It’s the constant counteraction of gravity. Landit Bandit is entirely polygonal (although it mimics 2D for a while) but the visual style is perhaps not as distinct or accomplished as the genre’s most recent 2D examples.
Initially you will be guided through the process of flying your newly built (created by an island native from DaVinci’s plans), peddle-powered helicopter around the island. The bulk of the game-play is based around landing to pick up passengers and transporting them to another area. Your map shows each potential pick up and their destination along with the pick-ups for extra speed boost and helicopter-repair or any other objectives you might need to meet.
As the game progresses you will be introduced to new mechanics such as fire, ballast, grappling hooks for swinging and a woman who can make male passengers jump onto the craft rather than forcing a tricky landing every time you need to pick someone up. This adds depth to the game-play but it tends to feel a little forced and the new techniques are fairly tricky to get the hang of. This can result in several re-plays of the same level, missing your objective by seconds and having to start again from the beginning.
Visually, the game is vivid and colourful but it won’t push the graphical potential of your PlayStation 3. The sound consists of “simlish”-like gobbledegook in place of voices, subtle menu music and a limited compliment of rotor sounds and crashing noises. The presentation is best described as functional rather than well-polished but that isn’t necessarily a bad point weighed against the fact that the game-play is so finely tuned.
Initially the controls may seem unforgiving and difficult to master. You have to feather your landings to avoid smashing the aircraft to pieces, swinging requires careful positioning and sliding needs to be timed well. Most levels are timed in some way so you have to master all of these techniques and be able to use them well in order to finish a level within the time (and grab that all-important leader-board position both locally and online).
Local cooperative play is seamless to drop in to the split screen (although it requires a level-restart when dropping out) and allows two players to work through story missions. There is also a local competitive mode which involves a split-screen fight to collect cases full of art. Both are entertaining enough and serve as a fun distraction from the tightly-timed single player progression.
Landit Bandit feels like a focused mechanic that has had a little too much effort put into diversifying it. The additional abilities do add something to the game but on balance it may have been a wiser decision to spend that development time adding more levels or polishing the presentation.
- Self-aware sense of humour.
- Tricky to master but satisfying.
- Fun with another local player.
- Quite short.
- Some additional abilities feel forced and contrived.
- Limited game-play options.
Landit Bandit is quite short and it is limited to a few basic mechanics used to accomplish very similar tasks. The mechanics are solid enough to make it a taxing and entertaining distraction but you might be left wishing there was a little more substance and a bit more polish.