Archive for the ‘Tower Defense’ Category

Plants vs. Zombies

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Plants vs. Zombies

Two words: buy it. The grueling wait is finally over – Plants vs. Zombies, my 2009 Casual Game of the Year, has now been released for the iPhone platform in (almost) all it’s glory and gets the site’s highest recommendation of Editor’s Choice. What the casual gaming experts at PopCap did with this title was to take the well-known gaming genre of Tower Defense, dissect it, distill it down to its core elements, inject it with an ever-present sense of humor, and then present the whole  package in a way that appeals to players of any skill level. It is a brilliant game; one that is beautifully illustrated and animated, one that allows for both strategic and tactical decision-making, and one that provides hours of enjoyment for kids and adults alike.

The unique premise of this game is that vile and pernicious zombies are attacking your home and you must fend them off with diverse selection of of armed and dangerous plants from your garden. Zombies enter the garden from the right side of the screen, occupying up to 6 horizontal lanes, and proceed to plod toward the home on the left, only to be stopped by an arsenal of plants that have been placed in the space between. The plants run the gambit from simple, unassuming sunflowers (which provide the precious resource of sun that allows the purchase of all plant types) to massive Cob Cannons that lob devastating bombs, which obliterate zombies en masse. The zombies are no less diverse in their presentation and function, starting with the lowly grunt to the white-gloved, moonwalking, Solid-Gold-dancer-spawning Michael Jackson zombie. While this hints at the humorous vibe that the game provides, it really just scratches the surface. There are so many hilarious puns, pop culture references, and quirky/characterful personalities throughout the course of this game that it really is more than the sum of its parts.

The core gameplay is just so perfectly balanced, tuned, and executed. The player must make choices at every step of the way; choosing the most strategic plant load-outs prior to each level, based on the zombie types present, choosing when and where to plant them, and choosing how to respond tactically to situations that arise at each encounter. While it doesn’t provide every single feature of its Mac counterpart at launch, like the Survival Mode and the Zen Garden, it’s still a must-have title that is recommended for just about anyone that owns an iPhone.

SPOILER ALERT – highlight to reveal:

After beating the 50 levels in Adventure Mode, Quick Play Mode opens, which allows allows the player to start at any stage and play a subset of mini-games: Wall-nut Bowling, Whack-a-zombie, Vase Breaker, the Final Boss, and the Conveyor Belt levels (1-5, 1-10, 2-10, 3-5, 3-10, 4-10, and 5-5). Playing thorough Adventure Mode a second time is just like the Mac version; Crazy Dave picks three of your seed packs for you, so that you’ll potentially use a different strategy than the first time you played through.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Dictator Defense

Friday, December 11th, 2009

I bet these guys crunched like Arnold to get this Plants vs. Zombies clone out, prior to the iPhone version of PvZ. It may lack the brilliance of PvZ, but some of the basic gameplay elements are there, and in no way is it a shoddy production. This Casual Tower Defense game, has the player drag offensive and defensive units onto the field to battle the troops entering from the top of the screen that are attempting to blast your base at the bottom of the screen into oblivion. You also have an uber-weapon that can only be used once per battle. If PvZ didn’t exist, I would most likely be very excited about this game, but if that were true, this game probably wouldn’t exist either.

Rating: ★★★½☆ icon
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Navy Patrol: Coastal Defense

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This is a Tower Defense game that I haven’t even played through a full time yet. The interface is poor, which makes it hard to play, but it does add potentially interesting mechanics to the mix, such as upgrading tech and causing storms. To be honest, I don’t like it that much, so far, but it is too early to tell and it is rated very high in the app store.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ icon
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Bloons TD

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

Based on the popular Bloons license, this Tower Defense game is actually pretty decent. Not much in the graphics department, for my tastes, but the gameplay is solid. There are six tower types, each upgradeable down two different non-exclusive paths with visible changes. The inclusion of several low-cost, temporary items is one of the things that sets this title apart from its brethren; pineapple grenades to defeat steel or stone balloons (?), expendable pop tacks, slow goo, and even a tower that increases the effectiveness of all tower type in proximity (!). Some are not actually too cost-effective, but can save you, if a few balloons slip past your primary defenses. And they will too, because there are quite a few balloon types that are sometimes tuned to be drastically different or provide some sort of gimmick. It has quite a few themed maps, versioned for each difficulty level, and it seem like this title may have some staying power.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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GeoDefense Swarm

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The long-awaited sequel has finally arrived (in the iPhone marketplace, one month = one year, BTW). First of all, if you don’t have the first one, get it immediately and play through it; it’s one of my all-time favorite games on the iPhone. I haven’t played this one long enough to truly compare the two games, but so far, I actually prefer the original. For the sequel, they chose to move the game to a build-your-own map system, much like Fieldrunners. I really enjoyed the tight level design of the first game, but maybe the shift in focus to keep this fresh was a good idea, particularly with the popularity of Fieldrunners. I also love the fact that they added a hex grid. Placing towers the old way seems broken now. They added one new tower, for which they never describe the functionality, and new hexes that affect the creeps in some way, such as altering movement speed or health. It feels like the devs assumed you had played the first one, because there is zero hand-holding and the difficulty level is rough. If you’ve beat the first game and you need a fix, this is a no-brainer, but if you can only get one, my advice would be to get the original.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon

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Defender Chronicles

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Defender Chronicles

This is a somewhat innovative take on the Tower Defense genre, as it is presented in side-view, as opposed to top-down. Enemies begin at either the top or the bottom of a mountain, depending on the level, and work their way to the bottom or top, respectively. It uses pre-placed unit “hard-points” and a fixed path, so the decision-making is limited to which emplacement is used for which of the 6 unit types. Units can be upgraded, as well. Enemy behavior is not limited to walking on the paths either, as some enemies fly straight up the middle and others, such as dragons, sneak down the side of the map. This places importance on where and what to upgrade. In addition to the 5+ combat maps, there are a variety of other locations on the world map that serve a number of purposes, such as equipment purchase and secret quests. All-in-all, this is a pretty polished, high profile title, which I recommend.

Star Defense

Sunday, May 17th, 2009

Star Defense

This one is hot off the presses (yes, I was alive in the 30’s, when people actually said that) and had major pre-release hype, so I wanted to give people a heads up, right away. As you can see, it’s Tower Defense on a ball. Controls are good, although I wish it had an ideal default zoom. Units types are obvious choices, which is fine, although the look of them is a bit grainy. There are 5 tower types, each with 3 upgrade states. Is it innovative? Sure. Is it necessary? No. One of my primary criticisms of some TD games, is when they don’t show the entire map and this may just be the worst example of this flaw, but I’m enjoying it anyway. Now…to unlock the BORG ship! JK

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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