Before I begin know this, I am unfamiliar with the ins and outs of the Robotech franchise so I’ll be commenting on what I’ve picked up from the game. Apologies to any Robotech fans who may suffer from foaming at the mouth as a result of this reviewers mistakes.
By all accounts Robotech: Invasion is not a bad game. It is disappointing but not bad. The game in theory works on so many levels and you can hear the pitch in your head. “Right, we’ll have a shooter based on a cult anime. Set in the future. Halo style melee and grenade attacks… Oh, and your armor transforms into a motorbike.” See? The theory is solid. The game is brilliant… Then you play it.
Now don’t get me wrong the game does have some very good points but every
silver lining has a cloud:
+An intriguing storyline…
The story is played in two parts with a kind of prologue to get you used to the controls. The first level (prologue) sees you invading an Invid hive with infinite health and infinite ammo and after we discover this the whole experience starts to feel a little empty. Instead of running around like a manic dodging twelve foot Invid warriors you stand your ground and hold in L1 and repeat the process until the game starts for real.
The first part of the actual game is played from the perspective of a military man suffering from what appears to be a post traumatic amnesia induced by the events of the prologue. Through the game we are treated to audio flashbacks of hilariously clichéd army-speak such as the timeless “I’m hit… Continue the mission!” The first cut scene contains another chuckle. Amnesia man is in a transport with some other guys while traveling through some bad territory where a local gang is causing disturbances. One of the guys gets shot before your eyes. The closed captions read: “(Death gargle.)” Death gargle! Classic. We are then advised to take the dead man’s armor and name (armor I can understand but taking the name of a dead man left me with a sense of impending doom.) So, Amnesia man is now called Locke.
We play through the game as Locke and after surviving the final boss we start the game again. This time from the perspective of a lady lieutenant of the Robotech expeditionary force sent to Earth to investigate invid capable of taking human form. It feels a bit like Battlestar Gallactica at this point but not enough to warrant shouting “RIP-OFF!” at the TV. The playable characters in the game are the strong silent type but this doesn’t matter because the NPCs do enough talking for you.
+A control system that works…
Yes, the control system works. A standard FPS type of setup with the d-pad controlling camera, night-vision, thermal-vision and cloaking modes. As I was reviewing the game on the PS2 I felt it was a little tricky at first. I often threw a grenade meaning to go for a melee attack. C’est la vie.
+sprawling maps that are stunning…
Graphically, the game could be better. The Invid don’t look as cool as they could have and the frame rate had a tendency to drop when things got a little busy but human characters looked good. Where Robotech: Invasion stands out graphically is with the game’s landscapes. They are massive and great to look at. However, your attention is more likely to be on the funny looking Invid.
+A motorbike (Cyclone for Robotech fans) at the touch of a button…
The Cyclone is cool. Very cool. The animation of the transformations fluid and awesome. However, I’ve heard that the Robotech franchise heralds a great deal of cool transforming things and it’s a shame that only the Cyclone made it into Robotech: Invasion.
+Sound to die for…
The one area where Robotech: Invasion really stands is sound. The first kind of credit we see in the game is “Music Composed by: Jesper Kyd” so its obvious that the developers are proud of this and too right. The soundtrack is phenomenal. From tribal warrior beats to eerie corridor music it stirs up the emotions that it is meant to when it is meant to. As for the in-game sound effects, all is in order, the laser weapon makes the “pichoouul” sounds that all laser weapons are supposed to and the regular gun makes a sound that is nice and thick sounding. This leads me nicely into looking at the game’s weaponry.
Now, the observant may have realized I wrote “the laser weapon” and “the regular gun.” Yes, singular. That is because during the course of my playing the game I only came across two weapons (three if you include the Cyclone’s useless missiles.) I have an idea why though. There was no handy indicator if your standing over another weapon to let you know you can switch. Hey, there might have been an indicator but I never came across another weapon. Even if I did find another weapon, we are told early on that we must always keep our laser weapon. We have no choice. On the plus side it gets an upgrade every now and then so it’s not all bad news. The cyclone’s missiles are also worth a mention. They whiz around the screen like nobodies business. This isn’t my problem with them though. It’s the total impossibility to steer the cyclone, avoid obstacles, aim at a target and press L1 without getting flustered, throwing your controller at the TV then crying in a heap on the floor.
My main problem with the game though is it’s lack of a multiplayer mode. Well, there IS a multiplayer mode but only via LAN or Online gaming. It feels that the
developer has missed out on a great opportunity here. The game seems to suit multiplayer more than it does a single player so it’s a shame that two people can’t enjoy it on one machine.
+So, what about the girls?
The female characters in the game account for just under half of the major roles in the game. You’ll find yourself having to save a young mechanic named Guppy (voiced by Tara Strong who also voiced Rikku of Final Fantasy fame) near the start of the game as a reward she fixes up your cyclone. However, she is very much portrayed in a way that suggests a devil may care mentality and she is very much seen as a nuisance. The main boss at the end of Locke’s campaign is a very cool looking woman. However, she is slightly crazy and spends most of her screen-time cackling. Great female role-models? Meh.
Overall the game is not terrible but by no means is it a great game. It does have it’s moments but is heavily hindered by little annoyances if the player can over come these then the game will be enjoyed.
It’s storyline tries to be involved but can easily cause much confusion. The game play is much like most FPS games but the inclusion of the Cyclone shakes things up a bit in a refreshing innovation. Will gamers warm to Robotech: Invasion? It’s unlikely but it’s a great thing for fans of the franchise who can ignore the lack of anime style in this title.
Basically, the game fails to stand out. If you’re an Xbox owner buy Halo (or better yet Halo2) if you own a PS2 go for Killzone instead.
Robotech: Invasion could have been so much more if more time was taken to iron out little faults.
Review by Gary