I’m stretching the definition of what an imported game is in here because, even though this game was officially released only in Europe, I happen to be from there so I just walked into a regular store and picked it up. As easy as that. It wasn’t even expensive at all, and that’s what scared me the most. Because last time I bought a game of these characteristics I came across Bloodbath and that was one of the worst games I’ve ever played on PS3. How will this game fare in comparison? Read the review and find out.
Iron Sky: Invasion is essentially a space combat simulator like Colony Wars or Strike Suit Zero. Usually in these kind of games the gameplay would be divided into missions. You jump into one with an objective and once you beat it the mission is over and you go to the next. In Iron Sky, things aren’t quite like that. The thing is, this game is open world and it makes use of its mechanics to add some strategy, some tower-defence tropes and even some RPG mechanics into the mix.
Let me explain. In Iron Sky you’re thrown into a living battlefield. The enemy is constantly sending enemy waves from their base to the earth which you are supposed to protect. You can roam around the space jumping from conflict to conflict while destroying (or trying to) the enemy waves that will be flying towards earth. You will be given missions like escorting important people or defending earth’s satellites but the whole invasion never stops. You have to think tactically then because if you focus too much on your main mission maybe too many enemy ships will reach the earth. This mechanic is very reminiscent to games like Dead Rising or Dynasty Warriors but it sure is the first time I’ve seen it implemented on a space flight game.
I mentioned already that the game also has some RPG mechanics. The most obvious one would be that you can collect the debris from the ships you destroy then sell them at a space station and with the money earned you can upgrade your current ship. It’s a pretty useful mechanic as you’ll find that the starting stats of your first ship aren’t very good at all.
The other RPG-like mechanic you’ll find has a lot to do with the whole open world approach of the whole game as by exploring the environment you’ll have some encounters that will trigger sidequests/sidemissions for you to fulfill. Completing those will give you fame but it will also unlock new bases and spaceships for you to use.
Now, for the combat itself, a heavy aim-assist makes the dogfighting to be quite straightfoward. Aim at the enemy ship and shoot lasers or missiles at them until they blow up. But, like in most aspects of Iron Sky, the developers wanted to add an extra layer of depth to that.
Your ships will always be generating energy (through solar panels) that energy is automatically assigned to the weaponry, reloading the laser beams and such. However, you can also manually “direct” that energy to recharge your shields or direct it to the motor so it charges your boost. It’s such a cool feature.
Moving from the gameplay, lets discuss the story. This game, Iron Sky: Invasion is based off a finnish movie simply called Iron Sky. I haven’t seen that movie myself but, after playing this game, I sure want to.
In the game, it turns out that some nazis left the earth during the second world war and they happened to take shelter on a base on the dark side of the moon. In the future (2018), the nazis want to take revenge and use their space ships to try and invade the earth. Your goal obviously will be trying to stop them from doing that.
If you think that plot sounds ridiculous… you’re totally right. Luckily, the game acknowledges it and never takes itself seriously at all. The characters are completely over-the-top and it’s all played out for the laughs.
Graphics-wise this game doesn’t impress but you can’t ask for more. The environment is dark and empty but, that’s the thing with space, am I right? The design of the ships is hit or miss. Some look really cool like the ones that you can notice a parallel with the WW2 ships (like the zeppelins or the spitfire) but others are kinda lame looking (like some sort of 1950’s UFO design) it could be argued though that they were designed that way for comedy as well.
I also have to mention that there’s some FMV in place for the dialog cutscenes. A screen will appear from the top and a real actor/actress will appear which will have some dialog with your character. As you can guess, it’s very cheesy but most times it’s also very very funny.
I can’t forget to talk about the Soundtrack either because, everytime you get close to a base, music will play. Each base will bave a different theme depending on the country that it represents. The american base (George W. Bush) will play a very weird rendition of the american anthem while the Korean base plays the most stereotypical asian-styled music. It’s hilarious.
Things I liked
- Cheesy: From the plot, to the FMV dialog and not forgetting the borderline offensive soundtrack… this game is very cheesy but in the best way possible. It all plays out for comedy purposes and it works quite well because this game got me laughing out loud quite a few times with how absurd and over-the-top it was.
- Deep: When I picked this game I thought this would be simply a space combat sim but it was so much more than that. Mechanically there’s the whole usage of energy you have to take into consideration and then there’s the RPG mechanics of upgrading your ship. It adds that layer of depth that makes the gameplay worthwhile.
- Open: It could be said that most games nowadays are open world so this wouldn’t be such a feat to boast about but this game truly embraces its open nature completely to deliver an overall richer experience. Missions can be completed in different ways so it makes the game strategic while it also adds content like sidemissions.
Things I didn’t
- Dark: As you’re dogfighting you’ll be spinning around trying to chase the enemies and since the background will mostly be black you’ll lose your orientation quite often. I know that space is mostly black emptyness but they would have made the game a favour by adding some more colored space dust or something that would make the background less samey.
Who’d like this?
I must admit that I’m a little spoiled by my expectations towards this game. In this case, I wasn’t expecting anything good from Iron Sky. It was an unknown game I found on a bargain bin and last time I bought a game on that premise turned out to be terrible so I was expecting the same from this. What I got however was a surprisingly deep game with lots of cheesy humour which I enjoyed a lot.
I know this game won’t be for everyone though. If you don’t have a taste for this intentionally cheesy humour you might be turned off by the FMV dialogs alone. In any case, I think this tactical open-world approach of the gameplay holds the game on its own.
<You can watch PS3 footage of this game in motion here>