Today we’re taking a look at Topware Interactive’s Iron Sky Invasion video game which is based on the comedy space thriller Iron Sky which released last year (2012) and features the alternate story of the Nazis who set up a base on the Moon in 1945 to return to earth in 2018 with advanced space technology and more attitude than Hitler’s left testicle. Whilst the movie might garner a few laughs, how well does the comedy convey in the more serious video game?
To begin, players assume the role of a hot shot American pilot who after receiving a cheesy video briefing from his superior and friend, takes to space and lets rip in a few spaceships of the American star fleet. From the off, the game’s comedy roots shine through as the banter via the video chat is often laced with sarcasm and jokes, but is somewhat distracting because the basis of the game is quite serious. So, if players forget the camp and cheesy acting (especially of the German opposing leader) and focus on the raw elements of combat, there’s an interesting game here.
There’s little in the way of options as players take the basics tutorial mission and then tackle the campaign. There’s no multiplayer or co-op just lone players and the German threat. What’s a novel idea is the way the game is set up in each chapter, where a map screen details the oncoming ships heading to Earth, and players can warp to engage at will. There’s a reputation system which is governed by scoring enemy kills, picking up salvage and completion of main and side missions. The persistent nature of the game means that while players are distracted in one area, German ships close in on Earth. Should any break through and the player loses reputation. That said, there are more gains than loses if players balance out which targets to head for in between main missions.
Players aren’t alone in space and have various allies on hand to to keep things even, although there are many moments when it’s just the player versus the enemy. The controls are pretty easy to master and with a system of transferring power to either weapons when weapons power is low, engines or shields makes for an interesting dynamic. Naturally if players retreat then the ships recharge on their own, but in the thick of it, it’s a neat feature to be able to manually choose where to divert power. The game uses a lock on system for its weapons, and with the tap of a button targets can be selected. There is quite a bit of auto aim which takes some of the skill out of chasing targets, but the game does feel more arcade than simulation.
The best part of the game is being able to drop in and out of skirmishes, and if things get too intense, players can retreat to the friendly space stations to recharge, sell salvage, upgrade the ships and undertake side missions. It’s a good system but one that isn’t explained very well. On some missions, you could spend up to 30 minutes only to be killed and have to start over. Yet, taking out all the smaller craft, warping out of the battle so the game auto saves, then going back in works very well. A manual save would have been a less frustrating option though.
Iron Sky Invasion isn’t the best looking space shooter out there but does a decent enough job of conveying the right elements. Explosions can be epic, and the game does play smoothly even when there’s lots of laser fire and other ships filling the screen. The texture detail could have been better, as noticed when close to planet Earth which simply looks low resolution.
Audio is definitely tongue in cheek with its voice performance which allows it to get away with things you’d normally groan at and the music sounds like deliberate Star Wars themes remixed to avoid legal complications – again, something that’s obviously deliberate. There’s a few laugh out loud moments, but due to the seriousness of the actual gameplay feels somewhat misplaced.
The game’s campaign isn’t the longest and can be beaten in a day’s solid play session, and whilst offering leaderboards to compete with other players, there’s little incentive to jump back in once the game is beaten. With no other modes to mess around with, it’s certainly lacking in overall content especially as the mission variety is quite limited.
Iron Sky Invasion is a mildly fun, interesting game which apparently has been hard to find in some territories. Maybe this in itself is telling, but if you are interested as a fan of the movie, then good luck in finding it. As a game in its own right, it’s an average offering at best which can only be recommended as rental for a rainy day. If you’re simply not a fan of space shooters, then avoid, and if you are, there are better games out there to fulfill your needs. If this is all you have left to play, then may god help you!
Iron Sky Invasion scores an average 5/10 – Review by Robert Cram