Announced briefly last year and shown off in a recent Nintendo Direct, IRONFALL Invasion certainly turned some heads. It's one of the very few third person shooters available on the 3DS, developed by the relatively unknown VD-Dev - although it's been around for almost two decades and has developed several good games, it's yet to truly strike gold thus far. When Nintendo pushes an announcement like this it's typically something very much worth getting excited over, so will this title join those ranks?
Interestingly, the game is technically free to download. Doing so will let you play the campaign, as well as online multiplayer, though you'll be limited to the first stage of each. The developers have cleverly divided the rest of the content into two packs of DLC; one will give you access to the remainder of the campaign, while the other will unlock all stages, weapons and characters in multiplayer.
The game's campaign is fairly straightforward - aliens have invaded the planet and you, a heavily armoured soldier, are sent in to try and stop them. There are 11 stages, which typically just make you go from room to room fighting enemies until you reach the end. You've got the usual options to go about doing this - you can run, take cover, peek over walls or around corners, vault over walls, quick turn, and so on. The multitude of different control inputs can be tricky to get used to at first, but once you get the hang of it the gameplay becomes quite smooth. If you're playing on a New Nintendo 3DS, meanwhile, you can also use the C-stick to move the camera around a bit more easily - we should note, however, that it's quite sensitive, so precise firing can still be a little tricky. Interestingly, instead of having actual health you've got a heartrate - this'll go up by being fired at, but also by running, so don't overdo it!
For each stage you beat you'll unlock a set of challenges pertaining to that stage, which are more like survival missions - you'll be thrust into a section of the stage with the goal of either using the least bullets, surviving the longest or not allowing your heartrate to reach critical levels. Each of these has three difficulty levels, which all put you in a different part of the stage - this essentially makes each stage have 9 challenges.
Clearly, however, the meat of the game is the multiplayer. This uses essentially the exact same gameplay as the campaign, except with players fighting each other in one of several rooms taken directly from the campaign, each fairly decently sized and with several ammo pickups - whenever you pick one up, a message will be displayed on the screen so everybody has an idea of where you are. Before starting you can select one light and one heavy weapon, and then you're thrust into battle.
Aside from the standard free for all mode, you can also team up, either with teams of two or teams of three, but the maximum amount of players is six. Winning matches will get you credits, which don't really do much more than increase your displayed rank - however, if you're feeling particularly confident you can bet them away before you start a match to try and earn even more.
It must be said that for a downloadable 3DS game, IRONFALL Invasion looks quite good. Levels have a fair amount of detail and, despite this, the game manages to keep a consistently smooth framerate, even when playing online. The music doesn't really stand out from other similar games, but there is a sound test mode where you can listen to all of it if you choose to buy both the campaign and multiplayer packs.
IRONFALL Invasion is a technically impressive 3DS title, though unfortunately it doesn't really stand out for those familiar with the genre. The campaign never really mixes things up, and while the multiplayer is quite fun it can occasionally be quite a hassle to get a full game going. On top of that - since most stages must be bought - the free stage will likely end up being the one that will be played almost exclusively, which can be frustrating. Overall, however, the experience is still fairly solid, so we recommend giving the free content a shake and then deciding whether or not you want more of it.