IS Defense is a game that almost makes me root for ISIS. This is a problem. Developed by the same guys who made Hatred, IS Defense is supposed to be their “personal veto against what is happening in the Middle East.” In reality, all IS Defense manages to be is one very long, very boring turret segment that makes me just makes me want to get myself killed so I could end the game quicker.
The game takes place in the year 2020. After ISIS sees a recruitment explosion, they take over large chunks of the Middle East and Africa. Now they’re trying to take over Europe and you have to play as a NATO stationary machine gun operator and hold back ISIS’ forces for as long as possible. That’s all there really is to the plot. Shoot ISIS because reasons. There is no exploration into the conflict in any way, there are no characters, there’s nothing. Just shoot ISIS please.
The basic idea is that you’re in a turret and you need to hold off an endless ISIS assault for as long as possible. You’re equipped with two weapons to do this: a machine gun for general infantry and unarmored vehicles, and a rocket launcher for armored vehicles or large clumped groups. There are no other weapons in the game at all, just those two. The enemies you gun down only come in a couple of varieties. I counted, total, only four different enemy types in the game. Sometimes you’ll be attacked from behind and you can rotate the whole turret, but this is about the closest the game comes to a change in gameplay. Yet there’s so little here that IS Defense is only one thing: overwhelmingly boring. There’s nothing to this game. You point your gun at the enemy and hold down shoot until they are dead. Sometimes you shoot a rocket, but they’re rarely necessary.
Each of the game’s three levels has “objectives” that you need to complete, but for the most part these are just grinding so you can unlock the next level. The only two objectives in the game are to kill terrorists, and destroy vehicles. Want to unlock the second level? First you need to kill 2000 terrorists overall, and destroy 100 vehicles, in the first level. Want the third level? First kill 3500 terrorists and 200 vehicles in the second. It quickly becomes a grind where I felt like I needed to kill an absurd amount of enemies for little payoff.
The first level of the game is a beach where enemies arrive by boat. You can shoot their boats and they blow up. For a while it’s a hilariously easy event, though eventually armored personal carriers and side attacks will cause so much stuff to happen at once that there’s no reasonable way to respond to it. IS Defense tries to make up for this by including a killstreak-esque feature. The more kills you get, the more the bar fills, and you can use chunks of it on different abilities. The most vital is calling in infantry, who will take some of the heat off the gun and help defeat the regular ISIS troops that tend to swarm the field. They keep the battle from getting too chaotic against you, but hilariously you can call as many as you want so long as you keep filling the bar enough, so you can quickly make it almost impossible to lose. Any enemy soldier is just going to get gunned down long before they reach you from the swarm of your own soldiers, leaving you to deal with the rare vehicle spawns. Other killstreaks are iffy in how useful they are. I never saw the artillery manage to kill anything, and it instead served only to produce random explosions everywhere. The airstrikes have a short and undefined range that severely limits its usefulness.
After I met the requirements to move on to the second level. I figured the game probably could only get better from here. Much to my surprise, it only got worse. The second level takes place in a shipping yard of some sort. Instead of invading from a beach, enemies just sort of pop up from behind cover. Enemies would spawn already taking shots at me, causing my health to constantly be dropping. It was nearly impossible to tell where I was getting shot from, new enemies and vehicles would just sort of show up with no notice, and the whole thing became a mess of trying to squeeze out a minimum amount of kills before I got killed. After a couple runs on the second stage I only had about two hundred of the required 3,500 kills, and only about ten of the required two hundred destroyed vehicles. I will admit that’s the point where I couldn’t take IS Defense any longer.
The game isn’t even technically competent at times. Bodies often became stuck in the air, and they’d actually block my shots. The AI is constantly doing weird nonsense, such as when a suicide bomber began running laps around a barricade for no real reason. Another point saw one of the soldiers that I called begin to march straight forward into the ocean. I’ve nicknamed that guy Aquaman and I hope he managed to successfully escape the game. At least Aquaman still shot at enemies before he vanished into the depths: other soldiers would stand around and stare at enemies as they get riddled with bullets. As a final note, any attempt to Alt-Tab out of the game caused it to get locked to a strange resolution.
I put about ninety five minutes into IS Defense. I can’t imagine putting any longer into the game, and I refuse to even try. This is a game so devoid of anything resembling fun that I’m not sure who thought it should be released. I played Call of Duty: Black Ops Declassified this year and thought it wasn’t as bad as IS Defense. If you’ve finished this review and decided that maybe IS Defense isn’t that bad and is still worth trying, then I’ve failed as a reviewer.
IS Defense was reviewed on Steam using a copy provided by the developer.
If you adore turret segments more than anything, love grinding, and have an absolute hate-on for ISIS then IS Defense is the video game for you. For anyone else please, for the love of God, avoid this game.