Robotech: Invasion is a First-Person Shooter based on a very well-known anime-series, or so I’m told. I remembered vaguely something about robot-like creatures that could change into cars and airplanes but I think I’m mixing those stories up with some other famous series. Whether this background guarantees for a nice round of metalboxing or for a desillusion like that time when Jar Jar Binks suddenly showed his face in Star Wars Episode I, you can find out below.
As said, everything happens in a sci-fi setting where the Robotech Expeditionary Force returns to Earth after completing a mission. Big is their surprise when they see that the Invid, some alien race, has used their absense to attack the blue planet. The aliens didn’t come for our fauna though, they’re here for the Protoculture, a strange substance us humans couldn’t even imagine the importance of. The only thing you as member of Robotech can do is put on your protective suit (the Cyclone) and grab the accompanying gun (the Gallant) from its holster. The mission doesn’t need any explaining, does it ?
The quite decent story is of course only an excuse to give the player about 10 hours of gameplay. To immediately tell you what I think: the hours may easily sliced in half. From the first fights, and they arrive quickly without too much explanation, you get a feeling of déjà-vu (“oh, a low-budget Halo!”) and the impression that everything has been made without much attention to detail and game fun.
The Shooting itself (quite important in this genre) isn’t a complete success although there are some positive points: if you want to efficiently get rid of human opponents, you’ll actually have to hit them correctly and not like with other console shooters where “pointing in the right direction” is good enough. On the other hand, the lock-on system is way too easy for the Invid; you won’t need to aim at all. The fact that certain parts of the robots can be shot off and that the hit detection takes notice of where you hit your opponent to calculate the damage is fun but not enough to make up for the lock-function. On top of that, the A.I. is quite bad, the attack patterns are very predictable and co-op between opponents is nowhere to be found.
A lot of fun with the guns is also out of the question as the classic arsenal that becomes at your disposal as you progress through the game shows a total lock of imagination and doesn’t have any originality.
Since you can only carry two weapons with you I meanly used the standard Gallant due to its almost never-ending ammo supply and the fact that this weapon can also be used as sniper rifle.
The controls are also mediocre (jumping and strafing does go as easily as you would want it to be) and when you go into “overdrive”-mode by pressing the Y-button, you’ll be disappointed by the overall controls. An important positve point of your Cyclone-suit is that you can transform yourself to a high-tech bike. Great finding for a game, but the details again are not so great. The controls are again bad and unnatural, you can’t even enter buildings or closed-downs area’s (quite annoying) and it even makes you more vulnerable. Without a doubt a missed chance instead of an adrenaline rush! The only positive point of this elephant on wheels is that you can get to the next fight quicker. The mounted rocket launchers are quickly found to be of little use in a fight so you either go past a battle really quickly or you get off the bike to kick some ass.
The devs probably thought that you wouldn’t be looking at the surroundings and levels while sitting on the bike as the finishing of it is clearly one of the biggest weak points of the game. It really looks like a budget-title with uninspired design, boring opponents, repetitive surroundings and very bad use of colors and textures. I won’t even talk about lighting effects, bump-mapping or reflections… you can even look far away. The animations have the same problems and although some Invid-models are surprisingle big, I haven’t been impressed at any moment.
One thing that has been done well is the soundtrack that comes by the hand of Jesper Skyd who also was responsible for Hitman (amongst others). Also here we have to think back to Halo but this time as a compliment with the quiet, symphonic pieces and more up-tempo parts to support fight scenes. The sound effects are qualitatively ok but the explosions, weapon sounds and voice-acting never exceed the gray matter of mediocracy.
Most of the downpoints from the singleplayer part (like mapdesign, opponent’s AI, etc) flee like snow for the sun when using the Live-options. The different modes (including deathmatch and CTF) aren’t surprising but the maps are quite fun to play and well-designed. It’s in this mode that you’ll probably have most fun, despite that you’ll have a hard time finding an opponent. The lobby’s are almost always empty due to the fact that this game hasn’t been sold a lot yet so it’s hard to find sessions with a lot of players. Hopefully that will change as otherwise the lifespan of Robotoch is very limited.
As we should, we have a conclusion for Robotech like we have one for every game we review and as you can guess it isn’t positive this time. Robotech: Invasion is a mediocre clone of the better shooters like Halo and doesn’t add anything to the genre. This is certainly too bad as the motorcycle-part has enough possibilities that unfortunately aren’t being used. With some better level- and graphical design, the game would have become a lot more enjoyable but now we get a standard shooter that can keep you occupied for 10 hours at most as go-between for two better games. However, the chance that you play this for three hours to never ever take it back out of the box is a lot bigger. Only those that really NEED a first person shooter and have played all major titles on Xbox already might want this. Or maybe when you’re a big fan of the Robotech Universe!