Robotech: Invasion First Look

We get an early look at Gathering's upcoming Robotech game for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

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Robotech: Invasion marks the latest appearance of the popular anime franchise on the current generation of consoles. The game is being developed by Vicious Cycle and marks a change of pace from the previous cel-shaded Robotech game, Battlecry. Whereas the previous game revolved around you piloting a Veritech fighter in classic battles from the series, Invasion is a first-person shooter tied to the recent DC Comics limited edition series. We had the chance to check out the upcoming PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of the game to find out how it's coming together.

The Cyclone will be your primary mecha, or transformable vehicle.
The Cyclone will be your primary mecha, or transformable vehicle.

The game revolves around the New Generation timeline, for those fans keeping score, and it deals with the Robotech Expedition's attempt to liberate Earth from an invading alien species known as the Invid. The narrative will revolve around two original characters--an amnesiac soldier named Locke and a Robotech scout named Tasha. While you won't play as any of the familiar characters from the New Generation, you will see some familiar faces as you go about your business. You'll start out as Locke, who wakes up in a hospital with little memory of what a happened to him but a definite sense of duty toward helping the Robotech Expedition's efforts to stop the Invid.

Once you progress about halfway through the game, you'll take control of Tasha, a scout sent to investigate claims that the Invid have found some way to infiltrate the Robotech forces. The stories will play out over 12 levels and will feature three distinct endings based on a choice Tasha must make as she discovers what the Invid are doing. In addition to the single-player story mode, the game will offer offline and online multiplayer gameplay modes. You'll be able to play co-op with a friend online or you can duke it out with up to eight players in online bouts.

Robotech: Invasion will use a standard objective-based structure that will send you along a fairly linear path, although there will obviously be some tangents, most notably with regard to the game's endings. The game's first-person-shooter mechanics are solid and should be a cozy fit for anyone familiar with Halo. You'll have a self-recharging shield as well as a health bar to keep an eye on as you play. Your arsenal of weapons will be varied and will feature your trusty Gallant pistol, which can be upgraded with a number of different attachments to enhance its performance, such as a sniper rifle bit. Weapons will come in three varieties: ballistic, energy, and grenades. While ballistic weapons will require ammo clips, energy weapons will require you to collect protoculture from fallen enemies. Grenades will obviously require you to find pickups. In addition to your personal arsenal, you'll have a few other options when dealing with the Invid, most notably your Cyclone's missiles and stationary weapon emplacements that you can man.

The graphics in the work-in-progress version of the title were coming along pretty well. The game's presentation forsakes Battlecry's cel-shaded look and heads off into more-conventional territory with large, detailed environments and detailed character models. While you won't see much of your character in the default first-person mode, you can shift to a third-person mode if you choose, which shows off some nice detail work on Locke and Tasha's armor. You'll also see some nice bits of Transformers-style animation, since the pair is able to use a cyclone motorcycle to get around the larger areas. Your fellow soldiers are comparably detailed and animate well enough. The Invid you'll encounter are a creepy, armored lot that look good and move well. The game makes use of a detailed damage system that lets you attack specific body parts, which is vital when dealing with certain foes, because you'll find enemies will have to be attacked in very specific ways. Outside of the large environments and detailed character models, you'll see weather effects, such as snow, along with satisfying explosions.

The wastes will be one environment you'll have to explore.
The wastes will be one environment you'll have to explore.

The audio is shaping up to offer an immersive mix of ambient sound and solid voice acting to help place you in the heart of the experience. The levels will feature their own unique audio ticks, as well as a healthy amount of chatter over your character's radio, which helps set the tone for a level. The voice acting will benefit greatly from the presence of such vets as Tara Strong.

Based on what we've seen so far, Robotech: Invasion is an interesting new approach to the Robotech license that seems promising. The single-player game should be interesting, and the multiplayer modes show a good amount of potential. Robotech: Invasion is currently slated to ship this fall for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Look for more on the game in the coming months.

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