Review by: Jonathan Hynes
Published: October 21, 2004
Often accredited with the birth of anime fanaticism in the United States, the Robotech series is older than a large portion of the gaming population. Still, it wasn’t until 2002 that the venerable franchise received its first video game adaptation with Battlecry. While everything from the cel-shaded visuals to the third-person action was designed to instill a nostalgic feeling, the series’ second installment, Invasion, moves in the other direction. Gone are the anime-like graphics and in their place is a first-person shooter combat engine, as well as a very appealing Xbox Live component.
The aptly named Invasion opens four years in the past (that’s the game’s past; still our future) with the returning Robotech Expeditionary Force, who were searching for the homeworld of the alien race called the Robotech Masters. They arrive back to find the planet overrun by another alien race called the Invid, who seized control rather easily in the wake of the second Robotech war. It is generally accepted that this hostile race invaded so that they could gain control of the Earth’s large quantities of protoculture. Exactly why and what they want with this bizarre substance is unknown, but the remaining humans do know that as long as there’s protoculture on the planet, it’ll take more than polite requests to drive away the Invid.
Gargantuan and technologically advanced are the two terms that best describe the Invid; there’s little that a mere human could do against these beasts. Thank goodness, then, for the Cyclones – mechanized suits that will give you some protection against the energy weapons of the enemy. The most important feature of this armor is that it shields you from the devastating attacks of your foes, at least for a while. There’s a limit to how much damage the force field can sustain, and unless you can remove yourself from your opponent’s line of fire, the shield will collapse and your health gauge will drain.
The Gallant is standard issue with every Cyclone, and though it will always eat up one of your available firearm slots, it does gain strength as you delve deeper into the game. It’ll eventually transform into a terrific assault weapon and even a powerful sniper rifle. Also, unlike other firearms, the Gallant doesn’t require conventional ammunition to function. Instead, it uses protoculture stockpiles, which are quite readily available thanks to your Invid friends. The rest of your arsenal consists of what you would expect: machineguns, shotguns, rocket launchers, et cetera.
As traversing great distances is part of the game, it’s only appropriate that your battle suit doubles as an armored motorcycle. Tapping the Y button allows you to board your bike, which is conveniently outfitted with rocket launchers. It’s a much quicker means of transportation than by foot, whether through an empty field or enemy-infested terrain, though there are a few drawbacks. First, the bike can’t be used indoors or in other enclosed areas. Second, the mounted rockets aren’t especially accurate when you’re whizzing by at incredible speeds. They’re certainly not precise enough to pick off individual foes, and as you can’t use your guns either, you’re pretty much defenseless against all but the most massive monsters. Finally, and most critically, your shield is rendered inactive while in this transformed state. While blasting through the enemy’s lines can be a good strategy at times, careful planning is required to avoid being obliterated.