As was the case with its forerunner, Iron Marines Invasion is a real-time strategy game in which the player taps and drags hero units, space marines, aliens, and mechs across a landscape that they see from above. Your objectives change from level to level, but they always center around a cosmic conflict that poses an existential risk to the majority of life in space.
Your units will engage in combat on their own and even make up for lost health over the course of the game by regenerating it over time. Because of this, a significant portion of the gameplay consists of combining units or building base defenses that function well in conjunction with your spacing in order to be successful in vanquishing your opponents while preserving your own forces.
The campaign in Iron Marines Invasion is far larger than the one in the first game; it has around twice as many levels and requires you to go to a greater variety of planets and environments in order to complete the missions. Large portions of the game, however, just feel like a rehash of the original Iron Marines, even while some of these levels, notably a few setpieces toward the end, feel like the apex of Ironhide’s RTS design powers to date.
This game seems a lot like the first one in many ways, and one of the main reasons for that is because the unit design hasn’t changed all that much from the first Iron Marines game. You are playing with all of the same unit archetypes, despite the fact that you are able to combine and match a greater variety of units that have unique appearances. Additionally, since you are able to equip different sets of units to play with depending on the objective, there is some overlap in the roles that each unit plays.
The alterations that take place outside of the actual levels in Iron Marines and Iron Marines Invasion are perhaps the ones that stand out the most (and are the most unwanted). There are fewer hero characters and unit packs that are included with the base game, the level navigation menu is a confusing sprawl of distant planets, there are constant prompts for turning on notifications, the tech tree upgrade system has fewer ways to customize your progression through the game, and there are fewer hero characters that come with the base game (while many more are available for additional purchase).
Even though none of these have much of an impact on the action that’s happening right now, and even though Iron Marines Invasion isn’t particularly challenging, you probably won’t feel the need to buy additional units in order to finish the campaign, but the whole thing still makes me feel pretty icky. To be fair, the first Iron Marines game had some of this (and has added more as time has gone on), but Iron Marines Invasion pushes things to a new level, and as a result, it feels like it has a greater negative impact on the whole experience.
THE BARE ESSENTIALS
The addition of a significant number of new Iron Marines levels to play is a welcome feature offered by Iron Marines Invasion. Having said that, many of the ways in which this game tries to expand beyond its basic model feel mainly trivial, and the others just seem like a means to further monetize players who already have to purchase into the experience in order to participate.