It’s 1886 and France and England are at war over a powerful new energy source known as Voltite. Guns, ships and tanks aren’t making much ground.
A private corporation known as the consortium of merit are sick of the stalemate and have developed advanced mechanical Ironcast. You are commander Powell as she tries to repel and defeat the advancing French forces..
So far, you’ll be forgiven for thinking Ironcast sounds like a steam-punk adaptation of Mechassault, 20ft heavy artillery that walks and blows tanks to pieces. Well so far yes, but don’t expect any third person fire-fights.
IronCast is much closer to games such as puzzle quest, and likewise there’s an equally intriguing story to boot.
First off you’re given a brief tutorial on your system. You’ll soon find 5 sets of nodes, Purple for ammo, which can then be spent using your weapons. The green nodes fill your repair bar, allowing you to repair any damage mid battle.There’s defense on board, which is powered by orange nodes and to prevent overheating you’ll need to be well stocked on the blue coolant nodes. Finally there’s the yellow scrap nodes which can be collected for upgrades but we’ll talk more about that later.
As you progress you’ll meet various other Ironcast and artillery which you can attack with your two equipped weapons, and defend against using your defense options, Shield and movement. A moving target is harder to hit and one with a shield will take reduced damage.
As you progress you get 3 attempts to match as many nodes as possible to refill your systems. Using the Orange power you fill energy which can be converted into defensive countermeasures. ‘Walk’ or ‘Raise’ your shields in up to 3 stages, with the next more effective than before. If you’re hit this can knock your shields and speed down, so it’s a task to keep this high to reduce incoming damage, some damage can be repaired by pressing ‘Y’ followed by the corresponding button, and the blue coolant slowly diminishes when using ‘Raise’ or ‘Walk’ and overheating can cause your Ironcast to explode so careful management is needed.
It’s not all about defense and to progress your going to need a strong attack, after 3 matches, you end your turn and the enemy fights back, or defends itself. Ideally you’ll want to take them down before they cause you too much damage, so the Purple nodes become pretty important, these allow you to fire your two weapons using the left bumper and trigger. Once the first enemy is down you return to base and start to discover yellow scrap nodes.
These reward you with scrap which can then be used to purchase upgrades, these vary from weapons to improved armor but can come at a cost, some of the more powerful weapons might require mode ammo nodes to fire, whereas other shields might put more strain on your cooling systems.
Soon enough you’ll be dead…
short and sweet, but directly to the point. and after restarting to find there’s no checkpoint, I was a little saddened after what seemed like a extremely well thought out game seemed extremely difficult…. However it soon changed when I realized I still had my upgrades, and was now awarded commendations which could be redeemed against boosts such as starting health, scrap and XP boosts.
This means the more you play, the easier you’ll find these early stages, and within an hour you’ll find yourself with a few weapons to select from, as well as enough scrap to start purchasing more. Upgrades can also be obtained through defeated enemies and the early repetition soon fades away as you become stronger and stronger.
There’s also a few other nodes which help to transform your look, overdrive nodes can be linked into one of your four systems to give it a boost, and link nodes allow you to continue from one colored node to the next in a single match. There’s a pretty deep, engrossing and tactical edge to managing the nodes and unlike Puzzle quest, there’s no spamming a single colored gem/node as your forced to manage your entire system.
Thankfully this is made easier thanks to well laid out, menu’s and interface, the font is a little small for the layers of text you’ll be reading through, but that aside there’s not much to complain about. Sure graphically it’s not exactly a masterpiece and would have equally felt at home on the Xbox 360, even on budget titles you see realistic explosions and impressive FMV sequences, but aside from a few shooting and damage effects it’s graphically quite simplistic.
Audio also follows suit, being nowhere near as complex as the core game, though once again it does it’s job well.
You can easily expect to return to Ironcast time and time again, initially there’ll be the frustration each time you die, but soon enough you’ll be improving and strengthening your arsenal while you learn to manage what you have on board as you try to balance between defense and attack.