It almost seems like yesterday that the definition of computer games or
video gaming fell into two categories alone. On the one hand, we have
the arcade-like action titles. On the other, we have the more
thoughtful adventures. The latter, of course, can arguably be the
umbrella for genres like the RPG. Just as adventure games cannot be
solely attributed to a single board game, neither can war games be the
sole genesis of the real time strategy genre. Indeed, strategy games
have been with us since the time of chess. Certainly, there is no less
fascination in the present than before with the act of war. Despite the
current, purportedly civil sentiments of anti-war or peace gestures, we
nevertheless continued to be challenged by what is universally
acknowledged as a grotesque extension of the human nature. The RTS
genre has emerged as one of the behemoths of modern gaming. Its presence
is being felt in nearly every genre, including those that are
traditionally far away like action games. Take for example, Command and
Conquer: Renegade. Westwood's third person action game will feature
the conventions of a typical RTS game.
My premonition approaching this RTS game on the PDA platform was: You
certainly cannot go wrong copying one of the mainstays of the industry.
Much like the current IT mantra (you cannot go wrong buying Microsoft or
previously, you cannot go wrong buying IBM), Invasion, in its look and
feel, is almost exactly like Warcraft 2. It features the same green
(perhaps too green) terrain, unrealistic portrayals of units and a sense of strategy
that seems at times, more a test of the reflexes than of the mind.
Invasion is a humorous treatment of the RTS genre. Its premise is laid
out by the simple fact that grey aliens (the ones immortalized by human
imagination) have invaded Earth. The main campaign takes the player
from one hotspot to another, simply destroying aliens themselves. The
first stretch of the game assigns nothing more than complete eradication
of the enemy. However, as the story progresses, you will be tasked to
defend certain objects like your own base of operations.
Much of the difficulty in Invasion is simply managing the art of playing
an RTS game. That means maintaining a constant production rate of fresh
troops. The strategy lay not in the tactical realm but in the overall
management. Think more like a CIO or VP rather than the actual engineer
doing the work. Invasion features all the trappings of the typical RTS;
an intuitive interface and easy to use buildings. It has done away with
harvesting, opting for a steadily increasing number of credits. You can
create buildings simply by dragging and dropping. Everything is kept
absolutely simple although I found the playing area a bit small because
screen real estate is so expensive on a PDA. As it stands now in
Invasion, you must use the mini-map in order to shift your view
elsewhere. Another strange aspect of the game involves selecting units.
If you select more than one unit, you cannot simply choose other units
by tapping on them. You must press the un-select button in order to do
so. In hectic situations, I misdirected groups because I had thought I
had another group selected.
Invasion's adherence to RTS standards is otherwise, unquestionable. As
mentioned before, it bears resemblance to Warcraft 2. Yet, being an
import from France, the translation is, in the best light, humourous.
With clearly defined objectives though, the foreign language is not a
problem. Invasion's missions are not overly complicated, they merely
test one's reflexes in wrestling down the RTS conventions. It continues
to carry the more horrid trappings of its PC brethren: pathfinding
errors. These are minimized, especially in the beginning, since the map
is so small. However, the inability to quickly move around the map,
select/unselect units easily, makes it hard to ferry past pathfinding
oversights. Furthermore, unit AI is pretty minimal as often fellow
soldiers beside a unit can be shot and still the unit will not assist in
saving its comrades.
Still, I wish Invasion would adopt some of the measures found in the PC
genre. Age of Empires II is arguably one of the most successful RTS
games in recent memory. It did not rely on visual prowess to win its
fans. My thinking is if this title cannot aspire to modern features,
like a rotatable 3D landscape or the increasingly realistic portrayal of
units, it surely could at least add depth in other departments.
Combined with a few sets of music tracks and accompanying sound effects, Invasion is a solid RTS game. Its bulk for a polished package like this
is not too large on a PDA's memory. Its games are short enough that you
won't have to dedicate vast amounts of time to it. There is even a
skirmish mode to extend the longevity of this title. Upon startup, its
loading time may be a deterrent to some who might just want a quick
game. Still, it is nothing too unbearable. Reloading games inside
Invasion itself is remarkably quicker. Those who will be turned off, of
course, will be those who have recently been alienated by the RTS genre
as whole. If you think RTS games have not innovated since Starcraft,
you might be better off waiting for a more radical title. However, if
you still play Starcraft and you work RTS titles like a tinkering
science, you might want to check this game out.
[06/10] Program Size
[13/15] Learning Curve
[ N/A ] Multiplayer