Iron Soldier, though often overlooked because of Tempest 2000 and Alien vs Predator, was one of Atari's greatest successes on the Atari Jaguar.
This isn't necessarily my favorite game to play on the Jag, but, not to seem overly derisive to the overall quality of other Jaguar games, Iron Soldier's superiority can be summed up in one word: competence. Top to bottom, Iron Soldier features quality game design and competence on every level of development. This was something rather elusive to the insanely small development teams working at Atari in 1994. The graphics do just enough without trying to do too much. Texture maps are scarce, but used effectively, giving tanks and helicopters cool camo patterns, as well as accenting certain buildings with metallic, welded surfaces. There is plenty of detail draw-in, but simply having that much detail at any distance is a triumph of sorts.
Atari also had some cool ideas for the gameplay. Customizable weapon load-outs allow you to pick two shoulder mounts (such as rail guns or rocket launchers) two hip mounts (such as grenades) and one weapon to hold in your mech's free hand (either a burst rifle or chainsaw). The infamous keypad on the Jag controller is put to good use in equipping any weapon in your loadout with the touch of a button, and the weapon variety allows you to strategically pick the right weapons for each mission. The mission variety is also a plus. Missions range from finding items, to destroying targets, to holding areas from enemy penetration, to protecting convoys, and so forth. The missions are challenging and dynamic.
There's also an undeniable allure to tromping over cities in a 45 foot mech. Anything that's not flat on the ground can be destroyed, and the game encourages you to do so, as weapons and repair crates are often concealed in buildings. The first time you play this game, you may find the way skyscrapers are reduced to a bunch of gray cubes as they're destroyed to be a little funky, but once you get used to it the destructive mayhem becomes most satisfying.
The one reason Iron Soldier isn't my favorite Jaguar game is simply that your giant mech has a clunky, tank like feel to it. Even with the radar, the mech is too slow and clumsy to deftly take out every target as it approaches, which means that it's impossible to completely avoid getting hit, even if your play-style is perfect. Fortunately, the Iron Soldier can sustain enough damage to render this inconvenience arbitrary.
The game is quite challenging, and with sixteen diverse missions of mech mayhem, it is sure to keep you occupied. Iron Soldier easily ranks within the top five games that should be on a Jaguar collector's "must have" list. Since it's relatively easy to find, there's no excuse for a Jaguar owner not to have Iron Soldier as part of their collection.