by Travis Fahs1
Iron Sky Invasion Review
World War IV Won’t Take Long
For much of the last decade, it felt like space simulators were dead. Like many genres that never managed to translate to consoles, they’d been increasingly marginalized to the point where publishers were afraid to invest in them. Now, the tides are turning. Star Citizen has earned over $20 million with its release still a year away, and people are once again talking about how to take this genre to the next level. Galaxy on Fire and Dangerous showed how complex, open-universe space sims could work, even on mobile, and Android gamers gobbled them up.
Iron Sky Invasion is a decidedly less ambitious attempt to revive the classic Wing Commander formula. The follow-up to last year’s 2D shoot ‘em up, it moves in a more streamlined, action-oriented direction, devoid of the trading, exploration, and open-world mischief of some of its competitors. Instead, this stays closer to the Descent: Freespace or Wing Commander traditions, where you’re dropped into a series of combat-based missions, with no ability to go off the reservation.
Truly, those comparisons are still not apt, because Iron Sky Invasion is quite a bit more arcadey than either of those titles. This is, at it’s core, just a space-based dogfighting game, with simplistic controls, not much in the way of physics simulation, and basic, combat-oriented objectives. You can choose from seven different unlockable ships, each of which feels unique, and you’ll have three different weapons available. You won’t be able to customize, upgrade, or tweak your ships or armaments, so expect to prove yourself based solely on your flying prowess.
Controls seem a bit twitchy, but they’re sufficiently customizable that you’ll be able to get them comfortable. There’s a little bit of auto-aim so trying to shoot it out with the touch controls is pretty manageable. Torpedoes feel a bit useless except against very large, slow moving targets, so you’ll mostly just be trying to get behind enemies and pop them with your lasers. It’s the same basic stuff we’ve been playing since the original Wing Commander, only faster paced.
The action is fun and brisk, but there really isn’t a whole to extend Invasion’s life. The premise, involving America’s space forces fighting a new Nazi Germany, seems humorous enough, but there’s not much humor – or indeed story at all – to be found in the game itself. There’s a brief, badly-written communication before each mission, and that’s about the extent of the story. Don’t expect the rich, cinematic presentation of Wing Commander here; just a bucket of levels.
It’s a shallow bucket at that. There are only 18 missions, each lasting no more than a few minutes, enforced by a timer. You can play through the entire game in an hour or two, depending on your skill level. Each stage earns you up to three stars, which are used to unlock ships, so you can expect a bit of replayability, but the experience is over very quickly by any standard.
Iron Sky Invasion is a lot more ambitious than its two-dimensional predecessor, but it still feels thin compared to other similar games. This makes it a good twitch game for a quick play, but with unexceptional action and little to flesh the experience out, it’s a ride that will be quickly forgotten.
Summary: Iron Sky Invasion offers quick, twitchy space combat, but the minimal presentation and abrupt length make it feel like just a hit of something yet to come.