Being a Nintendo gamer has its perks – you play some of the best games money can buy, that’s not available on any other platform. But every so often you can’t help but to look as some of the green patches on the other side of the fence. The last thing you’d expect on a Nintendo console, even more so on a 3DS, is a cover-based shooter. That’s exactly the gap Ironfall: Invasion intends to fill.
This download only title (via Nintendo’s eShop) comes in a very unique package. You firstly download a demo (there’s no full game to download right away) and once you start it up you can either buy the campaign or multiplayer segment separately, or collectively, via the in-game menu. As alien as that might sound the story is even more bizarre and flat.
IronFall: Invasion takes place in 2017 (GASP! 2 years from now!) when mankind discovers that there’s other forms of alien life in the galaxy. It’s up to the IronFall team, made up of ex-military personnel and mercenaries, to save the galaxy from the Dyxides, an alien species. You’re sent in to battle playing as Jim Woper who looks like a half-hearted Marcus Fenix (and at times you’ll play as Samantha Finch, your typical helpless lady. There’s stereotyping all over the show). Buffed, but missing a chainsaw attached to his weapon to finish off in style – it’s not going to blow your hair back. You’ll barely have time to get your bearings when the first wave attacks you.
IronFall: Invasion has launched in conjunction with the New 3DS launch as it takes advantage of the nub on the New 3DS. Circle Pad Pro owners will be glad to hear that it works perfectly, it’s what I used, but those without a Circle Pad Pro or the New 3DS should not attempt this cover-based shooter without either of those two options. Considering you have the right setup the controls are relatively straightforward. You move Jim about with the left analogue stick. Press up twice to run or down two twice to do a 180 degree turn. The right analogue stick pans the camera, your triggers are used for shooting, reloading, aiming or sprinting. The X button allows you to pick up ammunition lying around, B gets you in and out of cover and the D-Pad lets you change weapons from left to right. It sound very Gears of War right? It’s because it is very Gears of War, though it’s more of a ‘Gears of Bore’.
I must compliment the developer on improving action reload concept, by rewarding you with extra bullets in your magazine if you reload on time. The rest is clunky and boring as hell. I found that I was correcting my aiming more often than not as the analogue sticks aren’t anywhere near as precise as that of consoles. You’ll have access to various weapons as you play through the campaign, including your general shotgun, assault rifle, sniper and one or two alien weapons. Sniping is just about impossible as the analogue sticks are too twitchy, which begs the question – Why not unlock the gryoscope controls for use? You’ll find some tougher aliens soldiers towards the end that requires more precision that what you have at hand.
The campaign mode will last you about 5-6 hours, depending on your experience with third-person cover-based shooters and includes several simplistic puzzles, that requires the use of the touch screen. Using the Circle Pad Pro while doing these puzzles? It’s not fun as you won’t have access to your stylus and pressing away with my stubby fingers on the lower screen felt broken, but that could just be me.
The multiplayer offers you 7 different maps to play, though neither of the maps are all that interesting. Something as old as Golden Eye 007 on N64 had better level design. You can play a quick online match that comes with or without bets (in the aim to get more credit for bragging rights) and you can play online against people on your friends list or local against buddies in the same room. Either mode allows for up to 6 players to join in. I found that I often ran out of bullets, which would have you bolting for the bullets stash in the middle of the room, where a sniper was always lying in wait to pop my head.
IronFall: Invasion is definitely not the worst cover-based shooter ever, and it’s all you have on the 3DS if that is what you crave. It’s just very, very generic and there’s a heart missing in there somewhere. If you’re not going to play this online or with friends in the same room you should stamp out this invasion early on.