Review: Tower Defense
It's called Tower Defense. Striving to be the default version of a popular genre is a bold claim, but this 'self-titled' Tower Defense game has probably earned the right to that moniker. If you're looking for a slice of retro infused tactical gaming on your Windows Phone, this is the one to buy. Here's why.
Version Reviewed: 126.96.36.199
One of the big advantages this title has is the name - developers Com2US hold the trademark on the name 'Tower Defense' and while it would take a very detailed investigation to find out if they were the 'first' to market or the first to the lawyers, it allows them the prime name for discovery and marketing. Which naturally leads to some interesting discussions on gamer and developer forums.
With that acknowledged, this isn't the time to focus on that, it's to focus on the game. And part of me is really glad that this is a cracking implementation of the Tower Defense genre. The difficulty level is pitched correctly, you're taken through the learning curve quickly and smartly, the graphics for all the towers and enemies are all distinct, and the sound is crunchy and punchy, while not becoming overpowering when the screen gets busy.
But there is one issue that has caused me a little frustration. Because the game pushes so much on the single screen, and the game works along a number of pop-up controls when you tap an existing tower, there have been moments when I have gone to select one tower and chosen the tower above it. Naturally I then go to click on the tower below (the intended tower) and instead hit the 'sell this tower' button that is in roughly the same position.
When you have a densely packed field of play, with towers almost on top of each other, all upgraded to the highest powered weapon possible, suddenly selling one for about a third of the value to build it again is tough to take. Part of that is because the balance of each level between the earning of money and how it needs to be invested in your weaponry, especially on higher difficulty levels and those later on in the game, is critical. Disturb that with the unexpected loss of a tower, and you'll be in trouble.
You might think 'slow down the taps and check' to stop this, but Tower Defense is fast paced, with clicks happening all the time to build towers, target specific enemies, upgrade towers and special buildings, access the in-game options, or call up another wave of enemies early to get a better bonus score.
Right then, for those of you who haven't seen a Tower Defense game before, you have a big tower you need to defend, and a defined path that waves of enemies will march along. If one of those reaches the tower, you lose a life. Naturally you need to not lose all your lives to complete a level.
To help defend the tower, you can purchase weaponry and build it along the path, and as you destroy each enemy, you'll earn some credits... which can be used to purchase more weapons, or upgrade the weapons already built.
During the first level you have access to just the cannon, and over the next few levels you will be introduced to a total of nine weapons you can build from direct fire cannons and lasers, to 'slowness' generators that reduce the speed of the enemies, to mining stations that will create more credits to spend. Again, nothing fancy or different in the weapons, it's exactly the mix you expect, with different rates of fire, damage, and range to consider.
You play through a 40 level 'challenge' story, but in addition to these you also have some specific challenge levels and special missions where you only have use of your 'super' weapons... Normally you have one 'super' weapon per level in the regular challenge when the going gets tough, where you can call up a nuclear bomb, or an airstrike, to help clear the enemies. But it's fun to have a level where you have no weapons except an infinite supply of nukes.
Tower Defense is a great and accessible title, so if you've never got into the genre and want to start, this is a good title to do so with. And for experienced players it's great to go back to something that feels old-school, and how these games used to be. In a sense, this is why you fell in love with the genre.
I still think that a trial version should be available - even though it's in the lowest priced tier in the Windows Phone Store, people will be gun-shy of a title that promises to be the definitive version. It's fine for the app listing to say that it is, it's fine for reviewers to say that it is, but the customer still wants to see that for themselves.
Other than that, there's little to complain about in Tower Defense. It does what it needs to do, it meets every single part of the genre tick box list, and while it doesn't push the genre to do anything different, when a title gets almost every one of the basics right, there's no need for the fluffy edges other titles add.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at