Iron Combat: War in the Air from Japanese software house Amzy is a 3DS eStore that packs a bit of a kick on a budget, but at times you can’t help but feel that this title could have been so much more.
If you’ve ever come across games like Liberation Maiden or Strike Suite Zero, then you’re looking at the right sort of premise when you’re trying to describe Iron Combat. A futuristic air combat game that, although its a bit on the pricey side when compared with most other 3DS eStore games, it does give you the feeling that you’re playing a fully fledged flight combat title at times.
The game’s story is a little basic, presented Star Wars-like scrolling text at the beginning with no custom audio or voices for the introduction. Whether this was done intentionally to save on costs or perhaps to try and slide the title in with the Anime style they were trying to portray I’m not sure, but it does make the game feel a little cheap from the get-go.
The storyline is reasonable but not earthshattering: The world has been at war after the removal of all borders and laws, and two corporations get into a conflict while trying to split the world into countries again. The game’s protagonist volunteers for weaponisation, the fusion of weapons with humans, to become the last hope for her corporation. This is pretty much where the story cuts off and all hell breaks lose in the sky. Further expansion on the story is made in the form of similar text explanations for every mission, but they don’t really add much more to the main premise.
The game is split into two modes. Free mode missions are exactly that, standalone missions that you can pick and chose, replays are possible and encouraged – the more free missions you play the higher rank you achieve.
The second mode is Mission mode, it consists of 16 missions, some of which have multiple paths, resulting in 20 missions overall. The first mission is a tutorial which guides you through the basics of combat and also introduced you Selen, the right-hand-man of sorts for the game’s main character. She is voice acted in Japanese, with rough translations provided at the top of the screen. When I say rough translations, they really are rough sometimes.
Selen provides you with tips, backstory and encouragement during pursuits and battles. It pains me slightly that in a fast-paced combat game where the learning curve is hard enough to begin with, you’re expected to be reading translations at the top of the screen constantly, on the other hand, Selen is the only feature of the game that actually adds a bit of personality to the title.
Iron Combat’s mechanics are quite simple but are very tricky to get the hang of. Using the left shoulder button the main character can be switched between two different modes.
The first is a jet mode where altitude can be adjusted and where flight speed is much higher than in the other mode. It is also used to manoeuvre between groups of enemies. Then you have Mecha mode, where it is much easier to fight and move around. During this mode, it is possible to dash and use attacks that are otherwise unavailable to jet mode.
Difficulty is an issue that you’ll notice from the outset, Iron Combat is awfully difficult and it is extremely easy to die. I wouldn’t say its particularly unrealistic as this is an air combat title, but once you presevere through it does become easier and the game does actually become quite fun.
One feature of the game I think is quite impressive is the enemy lock-on system, the game marks where missiles and enemies are on the radar, it is however quite tricky to juggle flying your aircraft, fighting opponents and keping an eye at the bottom screen to see where your enemies are.
Almost everything on your character is upgradable, from statistics to different attack modules. This gives you a lot of replayability, which is one of the only things going for this game from a quality-perspective.
The lack of varied terrain and obstacles is a downside however. Each level is set in a small area with a good sense of space. There is however rarely any terrain to avoid or crash into, which gives you the feeling that the visuals around you on each map is purely there to be aestheticly pleasing and nothing more.
Overall, Iron Combat: War in the Air really is a title with a lot going for it but then there’s so many sides that let it down. There’s a lot of potential with this game, but it really is lacking with non-user friendly menus, its lack of in-depth narrative and poor English translation.
If you’re a big fan of air combat games then I’d suggest you do have a crack on Iron Combat, from the small amount of air combat games there are available on the 3DS platform, this is average and will successfully take up a good few hours of your live. Otherwise, if you’re more a genre neutral gamer looking for a decent title to feast on, I’d look elsewhere.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo 3DS code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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