Robotech has always been in the gaming world longer than Transformers, but the latter has always been the more popular. It took developers a while to get a Transformers game right, but last year they did and so Robotech has had to come back and try and become the best 'transforming' game around again. It just continues the battle which has gone on between the two franchises for decades; Robotech and Transformers never get along. Invasion is a game which is a bit like last year's Transformers game but does a bit more to create a moderately decent experience.
The storyline of the game somewhat recaps what happened to create the Robotech universe. In the 21st century, humans discovered alien technology which allowed them to move outside the Solar System discovering a new enemy, the Invid. They have come to earth as they need a power source to survive. They move from planet to planet wiping out the inhabitants before moving on, the humans won't take this lying down so you as a Robotech warrior will have to go to war. The game is actually divided into two sections; prologue and main game. During the main game you will continuously have flashbacks explaining the prologue mission which is a nice touch, but it can also be annoying.
The game is also divided into two main areas for gameplay as well although sometimes there are some sub-missions. You will either be in a first person shooter format, or a vehicular format via transformation, not available at the start of the game. The game revolves around finding a character, reaching a place or taking out the enemy invaders before moving on. There is no real puzzle solving in the game and it is this lack of variety which harms the game in the long run. Despite its length, chances are you will become tired of the gameplay by the time you get even near the final mission.
It's not all bad news for the game though, with some really great features on offer. While the first person shooting does become repetitive due to the lack of variety, it is done quite well. The controls are great and how the game is structured had us momentarily comparing it to one of the bigger titles in the Xbox's first few months, though as we pressed on that comparison fast became a false one. The game could be considered a little easy as well, especially with the linearity of each level. The HUD even has an arrow telling you where to go. We can't blame the developers for including this because some of the missions are quite large and it is easy to become lost without the HUD. The weapons aren't overly inspiring either with basic guns through to rocket launchers being used, nothing that we have not seen before in other games.
The environments are quite impressive and you will visit many areas before the game is complete. Places such as urban areas, snow covered areas, forests, and remote villages all feature and you even enter alien bases which is where repetition really occurs. The enemies, while tough and interesting aren't varied enough. Some enemies are almost copies of each other which doesn't help when it comes to keeping the player interested. However it really is the environments that will keep you playing because each one offers a different scenario to tackle. Such as the urban area hiding behind buildings, or rushing through the forest on your bike to pass enemies.
The graphics are impressive, especially the character models. Despite the fact they are mainly covered in armory and robot pieces, they do show emotions and have individual faces. The environmental graphics are also impressive, and the draw distance relies on no pop-up giving the game a flow between different areas. There could have been a few more story cut scenes to push the game along but the ones that are there do the job well. The voice acting overall is good, and while there are a few individually annoying voice actors, its more that they were cast to be that (a young female for instance) rather than them not doing a good job. The game does feature online play and that could be what sells the game even though most of the modes aren't anything special. The only non-deathmatch/ctf mode is the protoculture mode where players have to capture generators across the map in a style very much like Tribes.
Robotech Invasion is a game that really is only for the fans of the series. It relies quite a bit on the universe of the series which is no surprise, but it does mean that non-Robotech fans aren't going to get much out of it even as a generic game. For those new to the series the recap is quite good and the fact it doesn't really focus on a later series like the recent Transformers game should bring in fans from the series both new and old. It's just a shame that when put together it's only an average game.