The Vita gets a lot of criticism for its lack of big, triple-A exclusives. For some reason, the Invizimals games always seem to get left out of the debate. When Invizimals: The Alliance was launched in early 2014, I was impressed with its production value and the sheer amount of content in the game. Now, with Invizimals: The Resistance, the Vita has another exclusive that is better (though not bigger) than its predecessor. It’s a sequel that improves on nearly every aspect and is a complete blast to play.
Invizimals: The Resistance starts up where The Alliance left off (though you don’t need to have played the first game to understand what’s going on). You play as a newly recruited invizimals hunter who is just beginning to learn the ropes when Mr. Black and his army of extractor robots attacks the base. The fight doesn’t last long and the Alliance is sent scrambling to survive. A number of high-level members are being held prisoner and need rescuing.
It’s up to you and Sam (another teenage invizimals hunter) to team up and save the day.
The story is told mainly through live-action cut scenes that are really well done. Yes, they may be a bit cheesy at times to the more mature, seasoned gamer, but they are definitely of high quality. The acting is very good for what it is, and Brian Blessed makes his return as Dr. Dawson.
The gameplay is a mixture of AR mini-games and arena battles. The augmented reality stuff is much improved over what was done in The Alliance and the use of the AR cards is now no longer required. This is both a blessing and a curse because it means you don’t have to mess around with a table full of cards, but it’s also not as accurate. But the best news is that, for the most part, it all just works. Sometimes the screen will lose its place and jump around a bit, but it’s still pretty accurate. All you need is a well lit floor or wall.
The main part of the game revolves around battling the different invizimals in a battle arena. You pick which beast you’re going to fight with and what vectors you’ll bring with you. Vectors are add-ons such as health packs or special attacks that you can use in battle.
And while the game may have a kid-friendly coating, the combat is no joke. It’s not as easy as it looks. This is a game that requires skill and planning to make it through a battle, especially if you’re facing an opponent of a higher level. The action is fast and intense. And if you manage to win, you’ll be rewarded with skill points to increase your invizimal’s power.
A good reason the combat feels so good is that the controls are spot on. They’ve taken the formula from the first game and improved upon it. During battles, attacks are mapped to the face buttons while vectors can be quickly accessed with the D-pad. This eliminates the need to use the touchpad for most attacks. Things can be a little dicier during the augmented reality games, but even then everything controls (almost) as it should. There’s a slight bit of lag when moving characters around the virtual environment, but nothing that ruins the experience.
The game also offers a robust multiplayer experience. You can choose to battle friends locally through ad-hoc, or take on strangers in an online battle. You can also have team combat matches with 2v2 fights. It all works really well, and slight changes make it much more enjoyable than before. In The Alliance, losing an online battle usually meant the loss of your invizimal. That creature you spent hours leveling up would be gone if you made one mistake. Now it seems as though that is no longer an option and even if you die, you keep your character. This makes going online to fight random people so much more enjoyable.
The games is also great to look at. As I mentioned, the live-action scenes are very well done even if the content is a little campy at times. It’s very clear that the target audience for this game is the tweenage boy, and with that in mind, the story is just perfect. The visuals during combat are also top notch with colorful, well animated creatures that each have their unique set of moves. The backgrounds are alive and vivid during fights as well. The game looks good, and if you’ve played Invizimals: The Alliance, it looks exactly the same.
The game also sounds as good as it looks. The music is top notch and every sound effect during battle is crisp and well done. The same can also be said for the narration and voice over work. Brian Blessed’s commentary during battles can get a bit repetitive at times, but it is always full of energy. For what few flaws the game has, the sound is definitely not one of them.
So what is wrong with the game? First, it still does rely on AR quite a bit. So if swinging your Vita around the room, or aiming it at the floor aren’t your thing, then the game will get very frustrating. Also, since the AR no longer requires the use of the AR cards, it’s not as reliable as it could be and certain objects tend to jump around the screen at times. The other drawback for the reliance on AR is that if prevents you from playing certain parts at night when you’re lying in bed or sitting in a dark room. I found quite a few times when I’d have to put the game away because I couldn’t move the story along until I aimed the camera at a well lit wall.
Another problem I had was with the voice over instructions for a number of the mini games. They don’t seem to get the right balance because sometimes they’d provide too much instruction and other times not enough (and I’d be totally lost). I wish they would just allow you to skip the tutorial when you’re redoing a game, especially if it’s your third or fourth time playing it.
All in all, Invizimals: The Resistance is a fantastic game. The AR parts are a bit of nuisance at times, but thankfully they’re completely removed from the arena battles. The gameplay is deep and exciting with fights that can make your pulse really pound. If you’ve played Invizimals: The Alliance, this game is all that and more. They removed a number of the annoying aspects of the first game and have created something more streamlined. There’s still a ton of content here, and between leveling up invizimals to creating new vectors, you’ll never be want for something to do.