Wednesday 21 February 2018

IronFall Invasion 3DS review: Fantastic visuals, but it can't compare to Titanfall

IronFall Invasion - Screenshot
IronFall Invasion - Screenshot

James Tennent

VD DEV's latest offering, Ironfall, is taking on one of the toughest mantels in gaming - can you make a good military-style shooter for Nintendo handheld? Not yet, but you can have a good crack at it. Boring writing and an awkward gameplay leave a certainty that more effort has been spent on visuals than anything else.

Rating: 2/5; 3DS; VD DEV

Like a lot of military shooters, Ironfall sets you up with a simplistic and minimal storyline before telling you to shoot at things. Sometimes they bring out what are ostensibly harder things to shoot at but rather than offering any new challenge they just end up being slightly more durable bullet cushions. During the first level a robot with a shield turns up, you might think it signals the need for a more tactical approach, but no, just shoot a bunch into the shield and it disappears. A few different puzzles arose but all simplistic and unrewarding. The only real variety in the gameplay is the choice of gun.

The name is an interesting choice: Ironfall, presumably, was an attempt to link the game to Titanfall - arguably one of the best games to come out of 2014 (I have spent many a Saturday shooting at online strangers), the main difference between the games ends up being Ironfall's primary deficit - the platform. One quick point to make here is that I have not played Ironfall on the New Nintendo 3DS (because it's not out in Europe yet) so I don't know how much of a difference the New Nintendo's C-stick makes to the game's experience. Playing on the 3DS you have to use the stylus on the touch pad to control the camera angle, this seems at first to be quite an innovative idea but ends up with you scraping or thumbing constantly across the screen to try and get your guy pointing where you want him. The fact that other movements like reload and hide are on the same screen making for a jilting and staccato gameplay.

Games like these don't often need great storylines, it's true - Titanfall drops you on a map and tells you to shoot the other colour - but without the mechanics to hold it up, Ironfall's storyline seems worse. During the second level, while traipsing through a massive building your guy says "If this is a top secret weapons lab, I bet they have some really cool stuff in here" before finding a rocket launcher. Maybe it was tongue-in-cheek, maybe I didn't get it, but it didn't feel knowing.

The game is playable in the same way most shooters can be, you can go into a trance mindlessly firing into things - it's almost meditative, but that's about it. That's not to say it wasn't a good try at cracking the Nintendo handheld shooter conundrum. The visuals, at 60fps, are admittedly fantastic, but a game can't be good on visuals alone and when it comes down to the other boxes, Ironfall falls mute.

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