Overall Score 70%
We're under attack! With little time to rally a defence, all that stands between Earth and the invading hordes is a single fighter, armed with some pretty feeble twin laser cannons. Who are these invaders? What do they want? And why are they just lining up ready to be shot? The answers to all, some or none of these questions await the intrepid player.
It's a pretty succinct title, isn't it? If you're being attacked by invaders, what better name than Invader Attack? Ah, but the more worldly wise of you may have noticed something, dear readers. One tank fighting waves of alien invaders with very little intelligence? This sounds like that old classic, Space Invaders! And indeed, so it is. Your controls are basically left, right and fire, and you can play via keyboard or gamepad.
This is a somewhat different beastie to its ancestor, however. The twin lasers on your fighter provide a better chance for a hit and you can fire volleys of them rather than one shot at a time. Both you and the enemy take a bit of shooting to take out, though the wise tank commander will watch out for the wrecks of destroyed ships plummeting to earth. Bonuses will sometimes appear, not all of which are good. As you go through waves of enemy ships you'll be introduced to new ones. A helpful gallery of encountered foes is accessible from the main menu if you need some intelligence on them.
The graphics are fairly simplistic, with a variety of 3D rendered invaders with different traits awaiting your efforts to destroy them. Ships give off exhaust trails when moving, and they give out smoke when badly damaged (including your own!). A number of bonuses can drop from destroyed enemies, and these are fairly easy to distinguish (though you'll need to check the help to find out which is which, as there's no indication on screen of what they do). The game can be played windowed or full screen and at a variety of resolutions. The "Restricted Area" backgrounds are a trifle dull, though the way explosion damage appears over time is a neat touch.
Invader Attack features the expected range of bangs and gunshots, and also some nice "clink" noises when ships hit each other (or the edge of the screen). There's not really a vast range of sound effects, which is perhaps understandable given the simplistic nature of the game. A few good quality backing tracks enhance the atmosphere.
With controls you can explain on the back of a stamp, you'd expect this to be one of the most playable games around. And yet... it isn't so easy. For one thing, your ship has a strong case of inertia; the speed-up powerup, while it can be very useful, increases the effect of this. Don't expect to just suddenly switch direction if you need to slam into reverse. If you get shot or collide with something, it'll throw off your momentum too. All very well realised but it makes things tougher. On the plus side, these rules apply to your enemies too - they can collide with each other, and shots (yours AND theirs) can shunt them about. It's particularly delightful to see an alien plummet to the ground and whack one of its fellows on the way.
One thing I was less thrilled by was the way power-ups fall equally quickly. Being able to catch them is largely a matter of luck. And while all have their uses, none of them overly wowed me - the only weapon upgrade makes your shots faster, but there are no new or special weapons and no way to boost the power or the style. I feel we've missed out on a trick here. The scoring system takes some getting used to, as well - you get more points for playing well and earning bonuses than for blasting the invaders. I actually rather like this!
As a quick blast every now and again, I can see Invader Attack lasting a while on my hard drive. It's a neat take on the classic Space Invaders with some clever ideas. I'm disappointed, however, that I am unlikely to ever see the really high levels. Why is there no option to continue from a previously reached area? If I want to try Area 2 again, I need to play through Area 1. It'll be a long, very well played game that sees you unlocking all the enemy descriptions.
Invader Attack is a fun little game that isn't trying to do anything except entertain. It's a shooter for the more strategically minded instead of just blasting everything in sight with a cornucopia of outsized weapons. I hope it does well.
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