I still not quite sure what it was that inspired me to buy this game. I mean, I'm always up for a good 2D platform shooter, but beyond the awesome sprites there was nothing that really grabbed me about the game's trailer. Nonetheless, either by capriciousness or some twist of fate, I found myself with a few hours on hand, bought the game, and. . .
. . .it turns out I should either start being capricious a hell of a lot more, or start praying that fate comes through like this more often.
How can I describe Intrusion? If I'm drawing comparisons, then it's a lot like if you took Metal Slug, level design, and a physics engine and tossed them all in a blender. Actually, Metal Slug was a pretty good series to use (way to go, me), because both those games and Intrusion share the common element of how fun the mere spectacle of the games are. Fighting zombies, aliens, and they're-pretty-much-Nazi tanks with rockets, blood laser grenades, and airplanes in Metal Slug? Total blast. Fighting a giant Transformer robot in a sword-wielding mech in Intrusion? Awesome in an indescribably giddy way. That's something that Intrusion really nailed that you don't see much anymore; it's just plain cool.
You can ride on wolves and shoot down giant tiger robots and fight helicopters with mechanical arms and survive an onslaught of snow dragons (that are a lot like sand worms in Dune) while sledding down a massive hill on the broken hull of the aforementioned helicopter and, and. . .it's just so exciting! The game is a genuinely thrilling experience in a way not many games are. The sense of childlike imagination and wonder it instilled in me only increased this. The last boss can shoot fireballs AND rockets from his fingertips and can create electricity between his two fists, because why not? The game abandons reality for spectacle, and I love it so, so much.
|I rest my case.|
Ironic that the gameplay this is a part of is otherwise very. . .I'm hesitant to use the word "standard," since Intrusion is most certainly not, but I can't find a better word. There's not much to confuse you here if you've played any platform shooters before. You jump, go right, defeat enemies, and have fun. The two things that stand out most about the gameplay (aside from awesome things like stealing enemies' robot suits and running around with their massive artillery guns) are the weapons and the inclusion of physics.
There are only 5 weapons in the game, which is noteworthy for its decided lack of gratuity. The double rifle is a better (but more ammo consuming) version of the assault rifle, which in turn is basically a better pistol. The other two weapons are the laser rifle that shoots through walls, and the grenade launcher, which is useful for its arcing capabilities. And that's it. See, I much prefer this limited selection to the overwhelming amount of strikingly forgettable weapons in many other games. Rather than a selection of 20 different rifles that are largely the same for the purposes of the game, Intrusion has a suitably sized, very clear hierarchy of "main" weapons, followed by a couple others that provide distinct tactical advantages. Because there are so few, they all occupy their own unique place in your arsenal, which I thought was a nice touch. Another feature of the weapons I liked was the relative scarcity of ammunition. While you're almost never going to run out of assault rifle ammo, you can go through your reserves for the rest quite quickly if you're not paying attention, which requires you to make a choice of using a better weapon as soon as a threat appears, or saving it for later.
As for Intrusion's physics mechanics, they're both my favorite and least favorite part of the game. On the one hand, they can be really, really annoying at times. I was never made unable to finish a level by objects-were-flung-into-the-air-and-are-now-crushing-me syndrome, but there were a couple cheap deaths and platforming irks caused by bothersome object-environment interactions (and don't even get me starting on the wolves). On the other hand, they also allow for some really cool things. I was able to turn a crate into a weapon by suspending it in the air with a machine gun and shooting it over the wall an enemy was using as cover. Do I really have to say more? Between neat things like that, a couple of inventive stages for the multi-stage bosses, and creating a genuinely cool object-environment system (when it wasn't being asinine), I can only complement the physics mechanics in Intrusion - I just have to make it a qualified complement, first.
Equally surprising as the rest of the game were its aesthetics. Granted, I have a bit of a crush of sprite art, but even taking that into account I think this game looks really nice. There are tons of enemy models, the attacks and other special effects (like loose snow being crushed) are superb, and the game in general just. . ."feels" great, if that makes sense. The thing that I loved most, it being me, was the backgrounds. There's something about really well made backgrounds in games that I love - they can draw me into a game's world (even one so non-existent as Intrusion's) like nothing else. Slightly less impressive was the music, though that likely has more to do with the fact I'm more of an alternative metal fan than a straight-up heavy rock follower. That said, I'll easily admit to enjoying fighting a really cool, intimidating boss with heavy metal in the background, if only for how cliche such a combination might seem. All in all, the game incorporated the soundtrack fairly well, and I think the fact I still got enjoyment out of it despite not being a fan of the genre says a lot.
Overall: That Mr. Abramenko was able to make a game with exceptional boss battles, fun gameplay, cool (if at times frustrating) physics mechanics, and a great aesthetic is an amazing thing in its own right. That he did so on his own (well, he outsourced the music) is outright staggering. I can only applaud him in a state of dazed amazement for making a nine level game about a winter ninja fighting robots this great an experience.
Gameplay: Thrilling action, strong mechanics, and wonder-inducing spectacle (though I feel as though I've overused that word) make Intrusion 2 stand out as one of the more fun games in recent history. I had a significantly better time with this game than I was expecting, and I even came into it with some expectations.
Aesthetic: I admit it; I love sprite art. Even so, I can't help but feel that this game would win over those who don't. Everything is just so well done that I can't fathom someone thinking this game doesn't look nice. While I was not so enamored with the audio, to say it was lacking would be unfair of me. Assuming you aren't predisposed to not like it (and maybe even if you are), the audio/visual experience of Intrusion 2 should be a good one.
Game Rating: 8.5/10 There's not much more I can say that I haven't already said. If you want a game that provides a good challenge while still being fun to experience, Intrusion 2 is a great choice. I bought it on sale on Steam, and I honestly wish I'd paid full price (still only a mere $10) instead. That's how much I enjoyed it; I encourage you to see if you'll feel the same way.
Edit (4/23/13): Discussion below about the pricing and value of this game reminded me that there is a free demo on Steam, should you wish to test the waters beforehand. Also, you can get the game for the same price (and DRM free, I believe) on the game's website. Apologies to all for not mentioning this initially!