Developer: Vicious Cycle
Publisher: TDK, on license from Harmony Gold
Platform: Playstation 2/XBox/Gamecube (reviewed on PS2)
ESRB Rating: T (Violence)
Typically, the announcement of another franchise game title makes me cringe. Too many rotten games based on popular cartoons/movies/comics/etc. litter the console landscape for me to even briefly entertain thoughts that it might be a good game. Fortunately for me, TDK asked me to review Robotech: Battlecry, a game that, for the reasons above, I probably wouldn’t have picked up on my own, for fear of yet another disappointment. The game is a refreshing exception to the rule that licensed property games must suck. Clever gameplay, interesting visuals, and a preservation of the source material’s fundamental feel all combine to make this a great game.
You take the role of Veritech pilot Jack Archer of the Robotech Defense Force, helping Earth fight off the remaining Zentraedi troops after the Robotech War. Missions range from defending installations from Zentraedi terrorists to flying strafing runs against massive space battleships to stalking city streets and fighting the incoming battlepods mano y mano. As the game progresses, you’ll have to master all three of the Veritech’s forms in order to be successful. Some missions are nearly impossible to accomplish without the ability to switch rapidly between Battloid, Fighter, and Guardian mode in the midst of combat.
[ad#longpost]Therein lies the most entertaining part of the gameplay — the game adaptation of the Veritech itself. By including this most fundamental aspect of the series, the design team neatly sidestep the problem of being a generic mecha game, and add a unique dimension to the game. It’s also quite the challenge as a player to master all three forms, each of which has its own performance characteristics, firepower, and special attacks. Once that aspect has been mastered, there’s still plenty to keep the game challenging — without mastering it, however, the game’s damned near impossible. If you can’t play to the Veritech’s strengths, you’re doomed to failure.
The graphics are beautiful, utilizing cell-shaded animation to give the game the look of the cartoons. For die-hard Robotech fans, the game is very meticulous about its presentation of the various Veritech models and Zentraedi units — you can figure out what model you’re seeing based on the number of head lasers and similarly nitpicky details. Sticking to their source, the design team have created a game that captures the look and feel of the original, while presenting something new and innovative to game players.
By completing missions, you also unlock more advanced Veritech models, as well as variant paint schemes (including Roy Fokker’s famous look). Some of these models have markedly different characteristics, so the experience of playing the game can change fairly drastically by selecting a different model. Completing missions also unlocks the various mission screens for use in Versus Mode, where two players can pit Veritechs against each other in the depths of space or the heart of downtown. So even after completing the game’s story mode, there’s plenty of multiplayer fun to be had, and it becomes a great party game for your next gathering of anime-heads.