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Xbox Review - 'Robotech: Invasion'

by Nathan Mourfield on Oct. 24, 2004 @ 1:31 a.m. PDT

Set during the "New Generation" era of Robotech, Invasion is a first-person shooter that features transforming Cyclone motorbikes and Invid alien fighters. Other features include progressive scan support, widescreen mode, and 16-person online play.

Genre: Action
Publisher: Take2/Gathering
Developer: Vicious Cycle
Release Date: October 5, 2004

Buy 'ROBOTECH: Invasion': Xbox | PlayStation 2

Robotech: Invasion is the progression of the Robotech game series to the "Next Generation" storyline. After the defeat of the Giant Zentraedi, Earth is invaded by the Invids, a race of parasitic creatures. The player is part of the REF forces as a warrior in a Cyclone Armor suit, which can transform into a motorcycle capable of firing missiles. This game also has the some of the standby mecha from the Robotech series, such as the Alpha and Beta mechs.

I found this game to have a good balance between combat and storyline. Sometimes the storyline is very confusing, but it tends to work out with time spent in the game. Some of the escort missions are extremely difficult, a result of numerous attacking Invids and a lack of brain cells among the people you have to protect. I found that shooting the Invids several times gets their attention pointed at the player, but with the sheer numbers that drop on the poor humans, defending someone requires some quick kills.

The controls are somewhat squirrelly, but manageable. On the standard mode of the Cyclone Armor, the controls follow the pattern of the Halo shooter and are well-adapted for the Xbox controller. As expected in motorcycle mode, the controls of the Cyclone Armor are like any other driving game. There is no reverse, but I found that switching modes is the greatest solution to turning around, and then it is simple to switch back to motorcycle mode. In the motorcycle mode, the real drawback is that the shields of the Cyclone Armor do not protect the player. This is a minor matter, since the maneuverability makes up for the lack of shields. The one issue I had with the motorcycle mode is that it could not be used indoors. Some of the indoor areas are huge, and it would have been easier to move around while in the motorcycle mode.

Thanks to the efficient screen layout, it is easy to find the information needed for the game. Ammo and life information can be located on the outer ring of the transparent compass, which dominates the screen yet does not interfere with the gameplay.

The character starts each mission with the Gallant H-95 weapon, a modular energy weapon that receives upgrades throughout the game. Besides this weapon and the missiles available in the bike mode, the player can pick up one other weapon from a wide assortment. This assortment consists of ballistic weapons that require ammunition and energy weapons that feed off the protoculture store within the armor. There are four ballistic weapons: Wolf Auto Pistol, Wolverine Machine Gun, Holden Mark-2 Shotgun, and RL-8 Rocket Launcher. There are two other energy weapons, the EP-26 Pulse Rifle and EP-48 Mortar Rifle, as well as a secret weapon, the H-109P Destabilizer. Each weapon has its individual characteristics, and use depends on the player's skill and the situation.

The Cyclone Armor also has several variants that can be gained throughout the game, which can increase armor strength, number of missiles carried, missiles in each volley, and available features, like night vision, thermal vision, vibra-blades, and a cloaking device.

The graphics of the game are simplistic in form but amazing in execution. With the feel of the game Incoming, an early shooter using 3D technology, the aliens have a warm feel given by dark, warm textures. The Invid models are not overly complex, and the largest combatants have a look that gives an impression of alien technology. The textures are minimalist in variety of colors that gives a cartoon look to the Invids without looking like the cell-paintings of the Robotech series. The Cyclone Armor, in contrast, is blocky and angular, with textures that have scuffmarks, giving a beat-up and low-tech impression.

The cutscenes were done within the game's engine, which makes for an easy transition between gameplay and cutscenes. The title takes advantage to this fact by dropping into cutscenes in the middle of a section without too much difficulty, which was a nice surprise when compared to the other games I have seen lately.

The music soundtrack to the game rocks in a great way. The hard driving music feels great during combat, but is well-balanced to not take away from the game experience. The 5.1 surround sound has been fine-tuned to keep players aware of what is going on around them while keeping the music pumping.

Combat for the game is intense with fast kills, which makes for a real pain in the rear for escort missions. The best strategy that I found was a mixture of long-range sniping, circle fighting, and withdrawing when certain enemies get too close. The worst enemy for me to deal with was the energy eating "natural" Invids, which tend to group up and eat through shields and health with a short-ranged attack that swiftly kills the player.

Most Invids have a weakness in the eye that can be exploited with one or two shots from the Gallant while in zoomed mode. Melee combat was complex and difficult to execute correctly, but once the timing was down, it was quite easy in operation.

Multiplayer in this title is exemplified by the Xbox Live implementation, which includes everything except content download. The games are fast and can be joined while they're in progress, which can be interesting when one team is dominating a game and someone joins the other, and the game completely changes immediately in direction. The spawn points were the only real issue since the limited locations tend to encourage spawn camping. A common tactic on team games is to have a few guys assault the spawn point of the other team and keep the pressure up while the other team members meet the objectives of the game. A team kill score in a 25-minute game can be in the hundreds.

All in all, Robotech: Invasion is a solid shooter with decent Xbox Live multiplayer. There is some moderate difficulty of play, but any experienced gamer can pick up this game and get up to speed very quickly due to the excellent in-game tutorials. The storyline is a little jerky at times, but does get the point across and has some "advanced" plot concepts, such as foreshadowing.

Score: 8.3/10

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