Here are some things I did in Intrusion 2:
- Got punched by a hoverplane sporting giant robot arms
- Blew a hole in a mountain with an over-sized laser cannon
- Hijacked a mech suit and got into a swordfight with another mech suit
- Shot at giant robot snakes while snowboarding down a mountain on a piece of discarded armor plating
- Fought flying robot squids while riding a giant wolf
- Blew the thumbs off of a truly enormous robot
Intrusion 2 is awesome.
Diligent readers will remember that I’ve previously posted about the demo for Intrusion 2. I liked it enough back then to buy the full game, but never got around to playing it, so it ended up in the Marathon. Readers may also have noticed that Intrusion 2 featured in the Humble Indie Bundle 8 just a few weeks ago, making this post almost timely!
Intrusion 2 is an action platformer made by Aleksey Abramenko, aka VapGames, in the vein of classics like Contra or Gunstar Heroes. Intrusion 2 adds some modern features to this forumla, however, most notably mouse aiming (a feature I believe originated with the under-appreciated Abuse) and a physics engine. It also applies some modern computing muscle to depictions of extreme, over-the-top destruction.
It wasn’t until I’d nearly finished Intrustion 2 that I realized what it reminded me of: a mix between a platformer and a shoot-em-up (aka shmup), like Gradius or R-Type (to be fair, it could be said that Gunstar Heroes blended the two as well). The single protagonist who is much stronger than the hundreds of opponents he faces. The gigantic, multi-stage boss battles. The slow-moving projectiles that can (and must) be dodged. The penchant for huge set pieces full of insane stunts and plenty of explosions. The high-score tables. The sheer level of destruction that occurs on a regular basis. All of these are classic elements of shoot-em-up design, layered on top of an action platformer core. And for the most part, it works brilliantly. The physics engine especially adds a lot to the game; every level is filled with objects that can be hurled around by explosions or particularly angry robots, and said robots explode into scrap that scatters everywhere as well. There are hanging platforms that swing around, pontoon bridges that pitch and bob realistically, tree branches that bend under the protagonist’s weight, and even a mech suit with a grappling hook that helps it navigate the level (or simply throw heavy objects at hapless soldiers). Nearly every battle is as much about how to use physics and the environment to one’s advantage as it is about firepower.
In fact, the standard weapons in Intrusion 2 are perhaps a little underwhelming. The most common are basic, rapid-fire rifles with projectiles that move just as slowly as those of the enemies, making targeting at a distance difficult. They’re still fun to use, but not as destructive as I expected. The slow-firing pulse rifle and grenade launcher can make a lot more things explode in the right situations, but have limited ammunition and can’t be relied on too much. Instead it’s the levels themselves that provide the destruction. Conveniently-placed gas canisters ignite, setting enemies on fire and flying around before exploding and showering the area with debris. The supports of guard towers can be destroyed, sending the tower and its occupants crashing downwards. A mech suit’s heavy machine gun can be picked up and used against other enemies. Many of the game’s best moments rely on the fact that the protagonist can’t dish out that much damage and must figure out how to succeed against overwhelming odds, using whatever happens to be available.
The physics engine that makes this all possible is both a blessing and a curse. I found myself buried under debris on more than one occasion, and trying to collect ammo or health that’s fallen underneath a mountain of scrap is an exercise in frustration. It doesn’t help that Intrusion 2 gets very difficult towards the end, so every bit of health or ammo is critical. Earlier levels are certainly easier, but perhaps start a little too slowly, with some tedious push-the-boulder-so-I-can-climb-over-that-barrier bits where there should have been more shooting and explosions. And the rocking background music gets repetitive fast. But these are minor complaints — Intrusion 2 is so joyful in its crazy, over-the-top action that I couldn’t help but love it. In a time when so many games (especially AAA games) are taking themselves very seriously, often when they don’t deserve it, it’s refreshing to see a game so wholeheartedly embrace the ridiculous. This is the kind of game many of us dreamed of as children, a game that simply tries to be as awesome as possible at all times. Guns, giant robots, explosions, insane battles… it’s all here, and it’s fantastic.
In case you were wondering, Intrusion 2 is in fact the sequel to the original Intrusion, which can be played for free on Kongregate (and some other online portals as well, I believe). I’ve tried that one a bit, and while it’s similar in spirit it cannot match its sequel in quality. Instead I recommend heading straight for the free demo for Intrusion 2, which, despite the slow start, does a good job of demonstrating what’s on offer. The full game isn’t especially long — I estimate the demo covers roughly the first quarter — but I felt it was the perfect length. It doesn’t overstay its welcome, it just keeps one-upping itself before going out with a particularly epic battle. There are multiple difficulty levels and an online high score table too, for those interested in playing through again.
So if you are in the mood for some ludicrous, over-the-top action, look no further than Intrusion 2. It’s got you covered.
EDIT: The Indie Platformer Marathon is now complete! See all the posts here.