Iron Soldier

It seems that the entire planet is going crazy for Titanfall at the moment, which is understandable as any game featuring first person combat and gigantic mechs will always get a thumbs up from me. Not overly keen on the 'online-only' side of it, but maybe that will change in the future or with a sequel. Titanfall isn't new though - mech games have been around for donkey's years. Who can forget Mech Warrior, Amok or Metal Head? And more recently Hawken has been tearing it up on the PC. But let's not forget that the Jaguar has a mech game too (well, two if you count the lesser spotted sequel): Iron Soldier. Released in 1994 and developed by Eclipse Software, Iron Soldier sees you piloting a 42ft tall robot that's armed with guns, missiles and a chainsaw. Yep - a chainsaw. Good luck finding enough lubricant to keep an 8ft chainsaw oiled...but that's the least of your problems in Iron Soldier.

There's a fairly interesting plot in Iron Soldier - a corporate giant called Iron Fist has taken over most of the planet and keeps everyone in check by locking down the world's cities with it's military arm. Iron Fist has also just developed a new weapon to patrol the towns and cities it controls - the titular Iron Soldier mech. However, a group known only as the Resistance has managed to steal one of these units and it's up to you to pilot it and use it to ram an iron foot up Iron Fist's ass. So you strap into the pilot's cockpit and battle through 16 missions blowing up enemy choppers, stamping on tanks, throwing grenades at skyscrapers and generally making a bit of a mess. Iron Soldier was lauded at the time of release for it's rather excellent visuals. You play the game from a first person perspective and get to wander around in fully 3D, partly textured cityscapes and everything in the levels is destructible. Like I said earlier - you can level entire city blocks with your rockets and stamp on smaller residential dwellings with considerable ease. Enemy units do tend to put up a stiff fight though, so you won't get much opportunity to just wander around blowing stuff up, but it's cool knowing that you can if you want to. Back in 1994, just being able to navigate a fully 3D environment was impressive in itself - being able to destroy everything was off the hook. The explosions themselves look quite comical now - buildings and enemies literally shatter into hundreds of pieces - but when put next to what was available on other systems at the time, Iron Soldier was head and shoulders above above the competition (quite literally).

It's not just the visuals that impress either - the way the game plays is very slick. The controls are well mapped to the Jaguar's pad and the keypad buttons all represent different weapon attachment points on the Iron Soldier's anatomy. This means that you can equip different weapons to different anchor points in the loadout screen - for example you can have rockets on a shoulder mount, grenades on a hip mount, a chainsaw in one hand and a rail cannon on the the other shoulder. Would you mess with that? Didn't think so. Just as a side note about the weapons - Iron Soldier also features a remote control missile that lets you fly around the entire level and then into your target. Very cool. Missions are a well mixed bunch - some are basic seek and destroy missions, other have you taking out bridges or destroying enemy convoys and occasionally you'll be fighting against other Iron Soldiers, which is very cool when you can see each other through the skyscrapers and buildings are being demolished left, right and chelsea.

In summary then, Iron Soldier is a solid first person mech shooter. it looks great and has a fitting soundtrack. Controls are well suited to the style of game and there are plenty of missions and the difficulty level, while challenging, will keep you entertained for a while. There was a sequel released in 1997 by Telegames but most of the copies I've seen are Jaguar CD versions. I did have a brief play on Iron Soldier 2 CD at Play Expo 2013 and from what I could tell it is more of the same with slightly better graphics and sound. There's a cartridge based version available too, which is virtually identical but doesn't have the FMV cutscenes and I'd really like to get hold of it and give it a proper play through...but as usual with the rarer Jag games, prices start silly and increase to comical levels. Maybe if I win the lottery it'll get it's own page here! There was a further sequel - Iron Soldier 3 - released on the PlayStation and Nuon in around 2000...but I haven't played that one...yet.

You can also check out JagCorner's video review here if you so wish.


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