Iron Marines launched onto Steam and its pastel coloured gorgeousness has certainly gripped us. Ironhide Game Studio, known for their Kingdom Rush games, have successfully crafted another real time strategy game fused with tower defense elements. Iron Marines oozes style and while being a port of a mobile game, it transitioned to PC quite well. Does it deliver good gameplay though? We’re happy to state that the answer is a resounding yes.
In Iron Marines, players will take on the role of a military commander. As the commander, players will have access to an array of different types of units. Rangers, Engineers, Diplomats and Mecha units abound and it’s up to you to order your units around the battlefield and ensure victory for your forces.
After a brief set of tutorial missions, Iron Marines significantly opens up and becomes far more complex than it initially seems. Players will pick a Hero unit from a list of unlockable Heroes and select a mission on the gorgeous world map, that doubles as the game’s main menu. Once a Hero unit is selected, you can drop onto the world map, into a mission, and carry out a set of objectives to achieve victory. Doing this will unlock the next level. This formula is changed up a bit when side missions known as “Spec-Ops” missions are unlocked. Doing these spec-ops missions is optional but completing them will certainly help you along in the main game storyline thanks to the credits and technology it helps unlock.
Many of the missions in Iron Marines involve some sort of tower defense elements. Given a limited number of units and often limited to one or two bases, players will have to establish turret defenses and bunker down at times to protect themselves and their base from utter annihilation. Other missions involve using only your Hero unit to rescue survivors or to find specific Boss enemies and take them out. The missions are extremely reminiscent of the story modes from old school RTS games such as Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2 and Warcraft 3.
Iron Marines does however have some far simpler mechanics at play than most traditional RTS games. Etherium, the game’s main resource is infinitely generated by bases but stops at a specific limit depending on your resource carrying capacity. You can then choose to hold onto the resource or spend it immediately and let it regenerate again over time. Needless to say, this becomes incredibly important later on in the game when tactical decisions have far more weight to them.
Bases can’t be built everywhere and the only real construction you can do is to build tower defenses and upgrade them. Your main base building can also be upgraded with shields or a radar but most of your resources are most probably going to be spent on building units or putting up defensive towers first. Units in Iron Marines aren’t an infinite resource though. There’s a severely limiting population cap which keeps you from amassing an ultra-massive army. This is done deliberately to encourage strategic tactics and it works well.
Players will have to think carefully about what units to build and which ones to use in specific situations. Guardians for example cannot attack enemy air units so complementing them with some Rangers or Snipers is a good idea. Strategy and the correct use of your Hero unit and its abilities is essential to defeating the enemy forces in Iron Marines.
Additionally, players will also have access to orbital super powers. These can be purchased with in-game credits that are earned through completing missions but since they cost a lot, they are to be used sparingly. You can however drop down a free gun turret every now and then and this is immensely useful in some missions when you’re getting outnumbered.
The game’s graphics are gorgeous with pastel colours, vibrant 2D sprites and gorgeous environment and character designs. Each Hero unit is unique and the game lets you unlock and upgrade them as you play through the missions on offer. This adds an immense amount of longevity to the title since there’s plenty of Hero units to choose from and levelling them up will take you quite a while.
The voice acting in Iron Marines is superb with each unit featuring their own unique voices that give them character. Hero units in particular each have a great range of voice lines and these are definitely going to be engraved into your mind after hours of playing the game. The musical soundtrack to Iron Marines is adequate but nothing really stood out in particular. Instead, the voice lines and sound effects were far more memorable with unit attacks and enemy attacks all sounding great.
Overall, Iron Marines is a great PC port of an established and successful mobile game. Fans of RTS and Tower Defence games will find themselves right at home playing Iron Marines but may want something a little bit more in the end. The missions are varied enough to keep you busy for hours and hours though. Iron Marines may be lacking some of the more complex RTS gameplay mechanics seen in similar games like Command and Conquer but it still delivers a solid experience and one that will leave you feeling satisfied. Be warned though, the game can get frustratingly difficult at times and can be a tad grindy with regards to unlocking upgrades for your Heroes or your units.
You can grab Iron Marines on Steam, the game is deloped and published by Ironhide Game Studio.