Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Introduction:Robotech: Invasion is the second Robotech title released from developer Vicious Cycle. If your not a fan of Robotech then Invasion will just be another sci-fi shooter, but for the Robotech fans you will get to experience apart of the epic story of the Invid Invasion.
The Game:The Robotech name is a great license for any developer to pick up considering the series has countless amounts reference material and a huge following in North America and overseas. Vicious Cycle is that developer and has now completed two games based on the Robotech story. If you are a fan of Robotech: Battlecry you would never know that Invasion was another Robotech game. If you take away the Robotech name and didn't use the phrase "protoculture" there would be nothing to tie these games togther. If you want more of Battlecry's intense space dogfights, transforming Veritech fighters, and that cel-shaded animed look, you are going to look elsewhere because Invasion is set solely on the ground. The differences go beyond cosmetics and locations, the entire gameplay structure has been rethought and changed from a 3rd person story drivin' game to a simple shooter which a patched up story.
One big problem I have with Robotech: Invasion is that if you didn't know the background history of Robotech you would be lost. The game doesn't do a good job explaining the situation about the Invid alien race or the good guys. I was lucky that I know a fair amount about Robotech, but I feel sorry for anyone trying to play this game without a reference. If you're not a Robotech fan, Invasion is going to look like an average sci-fi shooter with less then stellar mechas. If you are a fan, you can piece things together and help the REF forces to rid the earth of the invading alien Invid race.
Robotech: Invasion plays off like a first person shooter although you can play the game from the 3rd person perspective if you want. The cool thing about your character (Locke) is that he's equipped with Cyclone Battle Armor. Cyclone Battle Armor is a suit of armor which can also be transformed into a rocket launching motorcycle. Both aspects of the armor have their advantages and disadvantages. In motorcycle mode you will be able to quickly avoid the enemy, but you will more acceptable to damage. In the battle armor mode it's the complete opposite, you will be tougher, but slower. Locke is really slow of the get go, but things pick up a bit when you get the booster pack for your bike and the extended rifle stock for your Gallant Pistol. It takes about 40-60 minutes before you get the extras.
There are a bunch of different Cyclone suits you can get through the game, but players looking for a hidden Alpha Fighter you're out of luck. One good thing about the idea behind the Cyclone Armor is that it can switch modes in a millisecond as soon as you hit the button. So you can use different tactics while fighting the enemy if you're Not in a Tunnel. For some odd reason, even though there is enough room the game stops you from transforming into the motocycle mode while in a tunnel which is a let down considering there are so many damn tunnels and endless amounts of backtracking. Your Battle Armor perspective translates in the game by a large round HUD that covers most of the screen, and it details all your vital information (health, ammo, etc). It's rather large and there are not other variations of it, so you will have to deal with it being in the middle of the screen. You will also have the ability to use night vision and other special modes depending on your armor, and when targeting the Invid there is a lock-on feature which works well, and is useless against human targets. This dynamic is pretty cool, but the human AI isn't too hard to down without it. Usually the enemy will charge straight for your character and your outgoing bullets, don't expect to be impressed by any squad tactics.
Robotech: Invasion also offers Xbox Live compatibility where you can play with eight other players in the standard multiplayer modes. Unfortunately if Invasion doesn't support Split-Screen multiplayer, so your friends will have to be on Live, or system link to your machine. Besides multiplayer, Invasion offers some additional replay value to the mix by adding another playable character. After you finish the game with Locke you will unlock an optional second storyline as the inner conflicted Tasha which will give you a slighter altered version of the game.
Graphics & Sound:Vicious Cycle decided to change their graphic approach from the cel-shaded animed series look, to a standard 'real-life' graphics engine. You have to wonder if this was the right idea after they had a solid fanbase using the cel-shaded graphics. The cel-shading sure made the game more unique and amazing in huge battles. The normal style of Invasion is definitely a let down, and not just because it's not cartoonish, because it's standard and bland. The graphics are nothing spectacular and are not overly detailed in character models or environments. If this game was based on the Unreal engine, I'm sure my vote could have gone the right way. Robotech: Invasion is a standard looking game with nothing that really stands out.
The sound element isn't as strong as Robotech: Battlecry and it's mainly because the voice acting general lack of emotion. Most of the time I just ran away when a NPC started a conversation! The classic Robotech sound is captured in the background music and sound effects which is awesome. The music fits nicely and complements the futuristic setting perfectly.
Innovation:The innovative aspect of Robotech: Invasion is in regards to the Robotech license. There is really no other sci-fi game on the market where you can control any mecha like the Cyclone. I guess the closest mecha to the Cyclone would be a Transformer and that's a different deal all together. The Invid are also pretty interesting and although the AI isn't great, the design and background history of this alien race is top of the line. Unfortunately the game doesn't hold up to the strengths of the franchise.
Mojo:Coincidental the Invid Invasion is my favorite time period in Robotech and I know how much more could have been done with the game, although as a standard shooter Invasion can satisfy. There are plenty of fun moments can come when fighting the relentless Invid in the wastelands of earth. It's defiantly very cool being in the Robotech universe dressed in a Cyclone, if you're a fan you will feel the mojo. Robotech: Invasion has tones of mojo for fans which are the primary audience of the game.
Lowdown:I have mixed emotions with Robotech: Invasion. On one level as a fan, I love being able to partake in the events in the Robotech universe. Even though the game overall is a let down, I can forgive its short comings and enjoy the game for what it is. Fans of the Robotech will most likely love Invasion unconditionally, but if you're not a fan is going to be an average shooter which you might want to avoid. I would have to suggest Robotech: Battlecry for anyone interested in Robotech story before Invasion.
Gameplay: 6, Graphics/Sound: 6, Innovation: 4, Mojo: 7. Final: 6