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Robotech: Invasion
  opened by paleface at 01:13:28 10/14/04  
  last modified by paleface at 12:27:18 03/05/24  
  paleface [sys=PS2; cat=Shooter_3D; reg=NA]
Reference added: 230
  "Two American Robotech games."
Followup of sorts to the fairly successful Robotech: Battlecry (see entry 230), this one dealing with the Invid invasion--this is all from the Robotech cartoons, which of course were sort of hijacked and bastardized anime series, originally.
They did things a little different this time around and I kind of with that they hadn't: Battlecry was third-person and cel-shaded, with a nice, light look to it, but for Invasion they went for a more typical Western design with a first-person viewpoint and no cel shading, so other than the mecha and alien designs it bears little visual resemblance to the cartoon.
It's also overly dim and somewhat washed out in a darkish sort of way, which is odd. Otherwise the graphics are technically very well done for PS2, with large draw distance, no apparently slowdown, very nicely-done alien models and laser beam effects, and so forth. But they bear absolutely none of the stylistic flair of the cartoon that the first game did, in a way.
Also, the beginning sucks. You have to skip through about five logos and then a recorded movie showing gameplay clips, like a teaser vid you'd download from the internet. Why the hell do I have to see that every time I boot the game? I own the game! I don't need a commerial for it, and a low-quality one at that! Gah.
Then you start the game itself, and that kind of sucks too because you have to spend the first ten minutes or so wading through a hive invasion sequence. This would be okay except that you have no life meter and cannot die, so you're basically just trudging through a big maze to get to the scripted sequence at the end while lots of very large Invid shoot at you pointlessly, and if you get tired of one of them you might lazily look up, scowl at him, and blast him in the eye--of course he's been cooking you with twin laser beams for the past thirty seconds, but you're invulnerable, so so what? Man, what a lame thing to do. Assault Suits Valken (see entry 673) does this in their intro as well, but that one lasts about 30 seconds TOTAL.
Then when you finally get to real, you-can-die-now gameplay, you find yourself having to spend a lot of time shooting little human desert bandits who are annoyingly dark, skinny, and hard to spot even at nearly point-blank range. It's very lame. You're happy whenever an Invid shows up because you finally have someone real to fight. Hopefully there are more Invid and less bandits as the game progresses. I've just got some upgraded weaponry, so hope abounds.
The control is mostly typical first-person dual-analog stuff, with zoom, weapon switching, strafing, etc. There are pre-mapped button configs but annoyingly none move Jump off the X button, which is an awkward spot to have it since you can't of course have your thumb on the right stick and the X button at the same time, so you can't aim while hitting jump. Grr.
Oh, there's an auto-lock with one shoulder button, and fire with another, so you could probably get through most of the combat just by holding down both of those shoulder buttons, although you are much more efficient if you can hit eye-shots manually. That part of combat is pretty fun, and the Invid really move around well.
Once you finally get a Cyclone you can transform it to armor and motorcycle, and thus ends most of the annoying slogging parts of the game--except that you can't switch to motorcycle mode inside the constant long winding tunnels that you have to go back and forth through. Again, ugh.
The transformation itself is efficient, and the bike moves fairly well, but there's little anime-like spring or zip to the movement--for instance you can double-jump, but even that only gets you about ten feet vertical, whereas in the cartoons they were clearing twenty-foot Invid in a single bound. Oh and the rockets (which can only be fired as a motorcyle) are slow and twisty and not very inspiring at all, and unlike the first game, they are very limited in number.
On the whole it feels like a step away from the cartoon show, which is puzzling. Maybe they figure that the vast majority of the audience these days hasn't seen the cartoon, so they might as well make it more of a familiar FPS experience. Well, that sucks.
There are other nice technical amenities that I can't take advantage of, like progressive widescreen support that you can toggle in-game (I wish they had 480p, but no) and multiplayer internet deathmatch, although I would think that would get stale fairly rapidly.
Oh yeah, the story, such as it is, is not very well presented: you get radio chatter but it is often either indistinct or just undramatic and easy to sort of tune out. You have to run little fetch missions for people but they move at odd pre-scripted times. You always have to follow a green compass pointer (and why in Sam Hill is the compass plastered all around the middle of the screen??) that changes position with no warning, and there's no map to accompany it, so you're pretty much at its mercy. And instead of whisking you between action spots, the game makes you go somewhere, trip the cutscene, then drive all the way back to where you came from even though nothing of interest occurs on the way back. Thanks.
It's not bad, the graphics are pretty good, and the mecha combat is usually pretty fun, but the rest of the game does not feel very dynamic so far.
  paleface 15:11:10 10/14/04
Come to think of it the story here, at least in the beginning parts that I've played, goes out of its way to avoid the characters from the TV show, and even to avoid giving the player an interesting character. Instead of some lively Rand-type, for instance, you've got the generic stoic white male soldier. Homie doesn't even respond when spoken to, for instance in a cinematic I just went through, you're going to another base or something with this girl who repaired your Cyclone for you, and she tries to strike up conversation, and your character just stands there blankly. Then she complains about being given the silent treatment. And your character just stands there blankly. What the heck is that?
· Robotech: Battlecry (PS2)

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