A few days ago the A.I. Invasion began, and what I mean by that is that the A.I. Invasion early access from GameArt Studio recently launched on Steam. At the time I didn’t mention it because I suspected that I could gain access to the game and actually try it out before writing anything up. GameArt have always been quite friendly with DBB in terms of letting us try out their games and I figured that chances were good that I could get a glimpse of A.I. Invasion. As predicted, GameArt were happy to oblige, and thus I am able to both tell you about the A.I. Invasion early access and give you a hands-on opinion about the game.
I have a soft spot for top-down shooters and have enjoyed playing many of them from time to time. Alien Swarm, Shawdowgrounds Survivor, and Halo: Spartan Assault are a few examples of such games that reside in my Steam library and that I still pull out on a regular basis for some good shooter mayhem. Typically there is nothing complicated about them. You move, you shoot, and you hopefully survive the hordes of aliens or monsters or whatever the game chucks at you with gleeful abandon. Sometimes it is the simple things in life that bring the greatest joy.
A.I. Invasion is very much going to join these ranks, at least in my book. There are plenty of things to shoot at, although in this case it is a slew of rogue A.I. robots that are begging to be gunned down. I am sure there is some kind of story being built around the game about these A.I. trying to take over something (presumably the “Invasion” part of the name is accurate), but so far I haven’t really noticed or paid much attention. I want to shoot things, dammit!
Backing up a little bit, I mentioned Alien Swarm on purpose because one of the great things about that game was its high intensity 4-person co-op gameplay. A.I. Invasion isn’t co-op, although GameArt have strongly hinted that they would consider adding it in depending on the success of the game. That seems a bit of a “chicken and egg” situation since my guess is that that having co-op is what would make the game really successful in the first place. In any case, as it stands now, A.I. Invasion does give you a squad of NPC soldiers to accompany you on your missions. Not as good a thinking players, but they do suffice and add in some additionally gameplay mechanics. You can give them basic orders and have them set up defensive positions, which actually does help a lot in certain situations. For example, in the gameplay video below that I recorded during the third mission of the game, there are a couple of times that setting up two squad mates to hold a position was key to success.
For the most part though, your squad mates serve to simply add extra firepower and carry along extra deployables, both of which are quite handy. Before each mission you can equip each soldier (including yourself) with different armor, weapons, and deployables. These options are limited in the early access right now (have unlocked two weapons so far), but GameArt have stated that more will be added going forward. Your squad will trudge along faithfully behind you and seem pretty decent at helping to taking down enemies. One thing I hope that GameArt will consider adding is the ability to arrange the squad into set formations. Currently you take point and they follow along, which invariably means that you take the brunt of the damage. It might be nice to designate different squad mates as point in order to spread the damage around. Thankfully, each soldier can be outfitted with a single-use med station that fixes everyone right up.
The controls are pretty standard. WASD to move and the mouse to aim. A.I. Invasion would be perfect as a twin-stick shooter, although at this time controller support hasn’t been added yet. Don’t worry, it is coming. Not that that matters to me as I am a die-hard M+K gamer, but you controller nuts out there will want to wait for that to be implemented. For the most part the controls seem snappy in the game and I don’t have any complaints.
Graphically the game seems good, and for the most part I enjoyed the artistic style. Having said that, my biggest complaint about the game is the animations of the human soldiers. They look rather stiff and unrealistic, which is a shame since the robotic enemies all look great in their movement. After a while I didn’t notice, but at first it was a bit detracting. Then again, I suppose if that was my biggest complaint then things aren’t all that bad in A.I. Invasion.
And, in fact, things really aren’t bad at all. There is a lot of room to grow for the game and plenty of work to be done, but there is the makings of a good top-down shooter here. Missions so far are varied and at times challenging. The escort mission that I recorded in the gameplay video took me quite a few times to complete because keeping the escort vehicle alive was quite tough. I should dutifully admit, however, that it took me a few tries before I realized the med stations also repaired the vehicle (duh!). Once I had figured that out completing some of the missions became a reality.
So is A.I. Invasion for you? Well that depends on a few things. First, if you aren’t a fan of top down shooters then chances are that you should keep on walking. Thus far A.I. Invasion is fairly standard fair within the genre, and there isn’t anything that really stands out from other similar games. Still, being early access much of the content is absent which means that GameArt can still throw in some stuff to surprise us. That also brings me to the second dependent point. If you aren’t a fan of early access games in which things aren’t finished then you certainly shouldn’t pick this game up yet. There is plenty of work to be done and plenty of stuff to add.
But then again, if you are a huge fan of top down shooters and crave more of the same then I can’t see why A.I. Invasion would disappoint you, although again you may want to wait until closer to launch. As far as I can tell it will be a good shooter romp, even if it doesn’t really pull away from the pack in the end. I enjoyed it for the most part and I am curious where GameArt will take the game. Time will tell!
And there you have it. Check out the A.I. Invasion early access on Steam and keep an eye on its development over the coming months.
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