Insects – The Alien Invasion Review

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Title: Insects – The Alien Invasion
Developer: Lost Vision Game Studio
Game Type: PlayStation Mobile
Download: 31 MB
NA Availability: 
Digital Download 

EU Availability: Digital Download
PSTV Support: Yes

PlayStation Mobile is something I am working on bringing a lot more coverage and content to this year.  Ever since the beginning, it’s been overlooked by the majority of gamers.  You can’t even access the PlayStation Mobile store on the PC version of the PlayStation Network.  It can only be accessed from a PS Vita or a PlayStation TV.  Many people don’t even know it’s there and the actual store is so messy that it’s hard to find much on it, other than brand new releases.

There is a lot to be found, though.  Awhile back, we reviewed a couple games that dove into more of the First-Person Shooter genre on PlayStation Mobile: On Call and The Game Lab Project.  These two showed how an FPS-like game could run on the Vita.  The latter showed some pretty impressive FPS aspects on the Vita and could be made into an extensive game.  There were technical problems, but it showed potential.

The game I have gone into today is also going to be something similar to that.  This game is set as a shooting game with a first-person perspective.  Being one of the many PlayStation Mobile exclusive games and in a science fiction environment like On Call, here is our official review of the shooting game, Insects: The Alien Invasion!

Story

Insects has a storyline but a very mild one that sets up the rest of the game.  In the year 2020, humans have landed on Mars and have set up a research outpost.  As they explored more of the different channels and caverns of the planet, though, they discovered alien life.  Unlike the grays of the Area 51 legends, what they found was a species of giant hostile insects.  Within minutes, the entire research post had been attacked and all researchers wiped out and killed.

You were the only one to survive the ongoing attack.  Armed with two high-powered firearms, you set up a final stand to fight as many waves of the insects as you can in a last ditch effort to fight off the invaders and get out in one piece.

In all honesty, the storyline is only there to set up the game.  You’re not going to see a bunch of scenes in the game.  It’s there to show you why you’re on Mars and fighting off waves of enemies.  It does a decent job of that, but it serves little other purpose.

Gameplay

If insects were classified as a specific type of game, it would be called an arcade shooter.  As you play through the game, you will be locked in one position as you can turn and aim your sights to fight off waves of enemies.  It’s similar to a rail shooter, but you are never moving.  You can turn around and move your sight anywhere on the screen, but you never go anywhere.  So, the closest classification is an arcade shooter.

The point of the game is very simple.  There are waves of enemies coming at you, and you are to shoot all of them down before they take you down.  You are armed with two large assault rifles as well as regenerating armor.  You shoot down enemies until the wave ends and the next wave begins.  As you shoot down more enemies, your score will go up and you’ll be able to shoot for a high score until you are finally brought down by the enemies.

This is where the story gets a little confusing for you.  The story sets it up where you’re trying to escape to save the outpost, but there’s no real way for you to escape as you play through the game.  The goal of the game is simple to kill as many enemies as you can before you are taken down, yourself.  Almost as a last stand situation where you’re taking down as many of them with you as you can.

As you play the game, it will get hard pretty quickly.  Your armor will regenerate over time, but much slower than you can take damage.  You gain about 1% of your armor per second and a single attack could take anywhere between 5 and 15% of your armor down.  The goal of the game is to watch the map at the top-right corner of the screen and attempt to take down any enemies before they reach you, which isn’t always possible.

When you do finally get taken down, you’ll be shown the wave you reached as well as your score.  Then, you can go through the game again to try to get a little further than you did before.  All in all, though, that’s all the game has to offer.  Similar to how The Game Lab Project only had the arcade survival-type modes in it, you only have this one survival mode to play through during the game.

Because of this, you will be using this game more as a quick random session than a long play session.  The story is only there for setting up your environment and you’re just fighting off random waves of enemies and then restarting and doing it all over again.  Shooter fans will likely enjoy this for a bit of time, but in all reality, there’s not a lot to the game other than this mindless wave game.  Each game can take as little as a couple minutes, so you can play the game for a short time or long time, depending on how much you enjoy it.

Controls

There are a couple ways to play and control this game.  There are touch controls for the game and there are button controls.  Unlike most games, both sets of controls feel nice as you play through the game.  In some areas, the touch controls are preferred over the button controls.  Also, these controls does not affect compatibility with the PlayStation TV, as this game can be played on the big screen as well as the handheld screen.

Since all you’re doing is aiming and shooting, there are very minimal controls to be seen in the game.  If you want to use the button controls, you will be using the Left Analog Stick to move your sight and holding the X button to shoot.  On the other side, you can tap and hold anywhere on the touch screen to shoot and slide your finger around on the touch screen to move your sight.

In some ways, moving with the touch screen is faster than with the Analog Stick, so you may find yourself switching back and forth between the two control schemes.  I found that in times where you are surrounded, the touch controls could move the line of sight a lot faster.

Presentation

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The presentation is the prettiest aspect of the game but also the most troublesome.  First of all, the visuals of the game are really well done.  There are some inconsistencies on some of the 3D renders, but overall, the visual design and detail is somewhere similar to the level of games like Doom 3, especially on the guns you use and the enemies.  Careful detail was done in making the visuals of this game.

The problem with the presentation is lag and slowdown.  As with many 3D PS Mobile games, the presentation doesn’t run well all the way through.  When you first start a wave and start shooting, the game plays decently well.  There are some frame jumps, but nothing major.  The closer enemies get to you, though, this changes.  With even one or two enemies close, the frames get very jumpy and shakey.  When enemies start attacking you, though, the frame-rate takes a huge nose dive and becomes hardly recognizable as you try to play the game.

Another downer about the presentation is a lack of music.  As you play the game, there is no music at all.  You can hear the wind blowing and sound effects from your gun and the enemies, but nothing other than that.  No creepy sci-fi music or anything.  Just sound effects and nothing else.

Summary

Insects – The Alien Invasion is another attempt at bringing shooting gameplay to the Vita through PlayStation Mobile.  On the downside, the story does little more than show you a setting, the game doesn’t have much to it other than a survival mode, and there are some severe frame-rate issues along with no music being put into the game.  It’s not bad for quick game sessions, but the technical issues definitely make it a struggle to play. 

5/10

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