The year is 1999. During the height of a global war between the people of Earth, a large alien spacecraft enters and crashes in the South Pacific. A cease-fire is called between all humans, and a global unity is created while work begins on weapons to eradicate the alien threat.
Nearly forty years have passed. It is now 2038. Major Earth population centres are destroyed, others simply abandoned. The few remaining resistance groups are attempting to fight the alien life known as the Invid releasing the Earth from the extra-terrestrial clutches.
The third Robotech war has begun.
Developed by Vicious Cycle, Robotech: Invasion is based on the anime series shown in over 140 countries in the early 90’s. The game holds true to the anime series, taking place in the third, and last section of the Robotech timeline, known as the ‘New Generation’. You take the role of a soldier named Locke who has regular flashbacks to his blurry past of being held captive by the Invid for the past four years. Your main intention is to obliterate the Invid race, bringing Earth back to human authority. The Invid are harvesting matter called ‘protoculture’; which is used for powering Invid and human’s weaponry and vehicles.
Aside from the story centering around Locke (who is the main character which you control), from time to time you will also control Tasha, a Robotech scout. From the second level onwards, you are able to navigate the terrains in either soldier mode (on-foot) or on motorbike, made possible by your high-tech, transformable cyclone armour. On foot the gameplay is fairly good, and it’s easy to target and shoot enemy Invid with the on-screen target. For bigger enemies such as the flying Invid, you are able to â€˜lock-on’ to that enemy by targeting it normally and holding the L1 button. This now allows you to move the target, which has become a small dot to aim at more precise parts of the alien’s body for better damage without fear of losing track of the enemy altogether. While on foot you are able to swap views between first-person and third-person, and as you advance in the game, you’ll be able to acquire such features as night-vision and heat sensitivity.
However, motorcycle mode is where it turns ugly. The motorcycle is at best a chore to attempt to drive, as it feels clunky and awkward. Driving the motorbike seems slow and unnatural, and you will often find yourself pressing the boost button to speed it up only to drive yourself into an invisible barrier near the edges of the map, or flying over a bump and smashing into a wall. Once these things happen, you’ll be reverted back into soldier form, all ready to transform back into the bike for another go at it. While the motorcycle is good to get you from point A to point B, you can not use it inside buildings, or tunnels no matter how safe you believe you can drive it. In battles the motorbike performs even worse, as you no longer have your armour to protect you from enemy attack, and there is also the fact that you can only lock onto enemies and shoot the targets with inaccurate and weak missiles while on the bike. You’ll find yourself only using the bike as transportation, leaving all the combat to the much better soldier mode.
Another gripe with gameplay is the ability to climb ladders, or lack-thereof. While you can indeed climb ladders, I’ve found it sometimes near impossible to actually get up the thing. The concept seems simple, walk towards the ladder and you’ll start climbing, then hold the ‘up’ button to go up to the top. While the latter part of that works fine, you may find yourself often wondering how, or why you can’t seem to climb a certain ladder. It seems that you quite often have to approach the ladder from a very specific direction and need to be a defined distance away from the ladder to actually be able to get up it. While it is a small gripe, it’s one which may bug you, as it did to me.
Combat itself isn’t without its hitches though, despite the fact that the fighting is fairly well done, and is on par with other games of the same genre, Robotech: Invasion has a tendency in some places to throw many enemies at you, over and over again, so you may find yourself fighting the same re-spawning enemies for minutes after minutes. Although, with that said, the fighting system is good with the ability to use your weapon as a melee attack by pressing L2 button, throw grenades with the R2 button and zoom in by pressing in R3.
The game does sport an online mode, which when working does produce a fairly good game, compared with the actual Robotech storyline gameplay. However the issue is that it is near impossible to go online and either find a server to play on, or anybody to play against. Sure you can create a match and walk around the map all by yourself, picking up weapons and waiting for someone to enter, but it doesn’t feel the same as a chaotic fragfest that it should be.
Robotech: Invasion doesn’t bring anything new in the graphics department, although that’s not to say that the graphics are bad. They are what you’d normally come to expect from first-person shooters, albeit a bit more mild. The most colour you’ll see in the game are from the enemies who are quite often sporting shades of red or blue, while the ground stays a consistent brown for dirt, green on grassy areas and on some stages, the white snow. The ruined cities are modelled fairly well, without any unattractive textures or major ‘jaggies’. The odd clipping issue here and there with walls can be noticed, but isn’t a major issue.
Frame rate is another area where the game periodically disappoints. During some action-packed combat scenes the frame rate can slow down to a very noticeable point. This doesn’t happen all the time though, as you can have a fight with up to six other enemies and the game will be running at a smooth frame rate the whole time, whereas there are some times when you may be fighting only one soldier and the game will slow right down.
Jesper Kyd is in charge of the sound for Robotech: Invasion, and its actually pretty good. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of different tracks for the music, but its barely noticeable, as it fades into the background sounds and occasionally gives you that little bit of urgency or triumph. The music seems to suit the Robotech game, being of a futuristic type theme. Voice-overs could always need a little bit of polish and shine, but overall they aren’t too bad.