I’ve become quite intimate with side-scrollers this fall season. The months of August and September alone brought Fractured Soul, Mutant Mudds, Mark of the Ninja, Home, Dust, Awesomenauts, and Deadlight to PCs and consoles, all begging to be reviewed. I like to keep busy, though, and so must Aleksey Abramenko, the sole programmer behind Intrusion 2. The first Intrusion released as a Flash game, but the side-scrolling action of Intrusion 2 contains enough ridiculous physics, retail polish, and creative art to excuse the $10 price.
Aleksey leaves players to construct their own story surrounding many of Intrusion 2’s events, but the beginning does provide some concrete information. The red-scarfed protagonist parachutes into a snowy mountain base loaded with animal-like machinations and experimental mechs amid the detonations of nuclear missile strikes. From here on in, chaos reigns, pardoning any boilerplate narrative. The nameless super soldier brings much hell to his mercenary antagonists, but instead of the limited up, down, left, right, and diagonal aiming directions of Contra or Metal Slug, Intrusion 2 uses the keyboard in conjunction with a mouse and reticle to produce the precision I crave from these shooters. Your position in the environment matters less than where you point the crosshairs.
"Go Balto! Those sick children need this medicine!"
Although players won’t be falling over pedestrians like a drunken Niko Bellic touring the streets of Liberty City, Intrusion 2’s physics showcase a wide range of humorous ragdoll animations. Soldiers and machines bend like double-jointed contortionists as you give them an explosive send-off; scrap metal poses fine cover from rival gunfire once the mound reaches several feet in height; splintered logs and boulders become an excellent stepping stone to that out-of-reach cliff or a primitive means of enemy disposal; and water behaves more like gelatin, but I can hardly complain about the unrealistic fluid dynamics when man-sized piranhas swim about in the frigid depths. Yet the forces of gravity conspire against the hero sometimes, trapping the infallible warrior beneath rubble of his own creation and forcing him to gun his way out alive or die trying. The protagonist does feel a tad sluggish on the ground too, and the handful of animatronic mounts don’t always mix well with the physics.
Giant domesticated wolves make excellent combat companions, gnawing on the flesh of guards you pounce on, yet they control poorly in tight corridors, and their longer jumps require several meters of open ground to build up speed. The various mechs, while even less maneuverable, take and dish out extended beatings. The minigun mech keeps players diving for shelter when its shoulder-mounted missiles start flying, but players can equip the disassembled turrets strewn about in the destroyed wreckage. The resourceful grapple mech introduces practical melee combat to the Intrusion series. Using the machine’s claw, the hero may swing about the environment or launch metal debris at the unprofessional opposition. Once the commandos close in, the vehicle's lengthy buster sword cleaves through reinforcements in wide arcs.
Insert obligatory Scorpion quotation: "Come here!"
Intrusion 2 is the best type of game to set on Easy, then power through in a short, mind-blowing afternoon. The boss fights forgo pleasantries, ratcheting up the difficulty to levels more intense than a final confrontation between Mario and Bowser in World 8 of Super Mario Bros. A prolonged engagement against an airship with metal arms that crush you in their metallic vices while simultaneously hammering you into the ground like a thumbtack comes to a close on a slippery mountain ledge, and a later encounter with a scantily dressed femme fatale sends our soldier scrambling back and forth in the rocky cave, avoiding pools of lava that the siren summons with her mortar-firing laser cannon.
The final confrontation could only be a product of someone’s anime appreciation. A towering Gundam with laser beams for eyes pursues players through a floating corridor and disheveled building, crushing and jostling both between its hands as the beast launches fireballs with its fingertips. The final stage of the battle requires you to return nuclear missiles to their host with your own weaponry, as it stands miles away atop a mountain in the distance. And I haven’t even mentioned the absurdity of snowboarding down a mountain while ninjas and metal dragons give chase!
Shouldn't MetalSeadramon be off hunting the DigiDestined somewhere? (Yes, that was a Digimon reference.)
Despite all these controllable set pieces, the game refuses to lock up or stutter. For a title that still uses Adobe Flash coding, which scarcely maintains a consistent frame rate outside of 2D stick figure fights, the number of pixels on-screen exceeds my lofty standards.
But I wish the weapons contained an equal amount of creativity to match the rest of the game’s bizarre nature. Except for the wall-piercing railgun, the weapon variety limits players to a pistol, machine gun, grenade launcher, and plasma rifle. The nine stages don’t last long either – about three hours – and I hope you’re prepared for one constant guitar riff known as the soundtrack.
It seems I can’t log in to Steam or Xbox Live as of late without meeting a new side-scroller itching to be reviewed, yet Intrusion 2 proudly stands at the peaks of the indie and action genres. If $10 for an Flash game errs on your side of caution, the demo grants access to the first four levels. But if you need your daily injection of fun, Intrusion 2 is a much needed shot in the arm.
Publisher: Aleksey Abramenko
Developer: Aleksey Abramenko
Release Date: September 11, 2012
Number of Players: 1
Platforms: PC (Reviewed)