Revenge of the TitansESRB:
Platform: PC Games
Category: Real Time Strategy
Maybe I'm behind the times, but... a Tower Defence game with... research? Individual achievements? Even though I don't generally like Tower Defence games, this one caught my interest. It's by no means perfect, but it's still damn good, and let me tell you why.
As you'd expect from an indie tower defence game, the graphics are fairly simple. But they're clear, and you know what should go where. On top of that, the clash between the angular, oh-so-serious, airbrush textured graphics and the very british humour that Puppygames have put into the game makes it quite amusing and interesting, even though all I'm actually being given is a bunch of stats of monsters and weapons. It's done with charm, and that's important.
Gameplay wise, it's mostly your standard tower defence fare, with the addition of research and resource gathering. There are five chapters, with ten levels each in the campaign mode, a survival mode, and a score-attack Endless mode. At the time of writing, I'd played up to the middle of Chapter 2 twice, and had two different experiences. In the first, I've not been able to afford many guns, because my resource gathering stinks ($10 every 3 seconds, with even the smallest gun costing $250? Geddoudahere!), but I've been supplementing it since mission 5 of chapter 2 or so with mines, and have only just started to lose buildings.
The other playthrough, I had more than enough money and guns, because I'd concentrated on resource collecting, but my guns stank, and so, by chapter 2, I ran into big trouble, because, no matter what guns I had, I was facing armoured creatures that were guaranteed to trash everything I threw at it. Mines helped, but not an amazing amount. Looking at what I know so far of the research tree, I can see about four or five different ways to plan it, just in the first chapter.
But there are some flaws. If you don't research armour piercing by the second chapter, you're a bit shafted... but it doesn't tell you that until the level where armoured beasties begin turning up. The titans don't start turning up until you've either spent all your cash, or put down your resource collector, but this isn't implemented very well, as I found that, instead of a free first resource collector (which would only make sense), it takes what money you have left (even if it's not enough for said resource collector) to build something that's apparently necessary to start the level. Not well thought out, guys. Luckily, these flaws will only annoy you either the first time you encounter them (like the armoured titans), or if you're not aware of them (like the resource collector thing).
One thing that definitely needs work, however, is resource collection. As it stands, it's incredibly difficult to get enough resources to break even with the costs of collecting, and as such, resource collection begins to look more like late game research, an afterthought, rather than the important game changer it could have been. This is one of the few areas of the game that still needs a bit of work.
The sounds and music of the game contribute with the angular graphics to give a sort of b-movie feel, with synth versions of classical music like toccata and fugue, the roars of the Megatitans, and the various noises of the weapons combining to create a symphony that's quite pleasing to the ear, and fitting the mood (think Sgt. Rock, mixed with B-Movies... IN SPAAAAACE!), so the aesthetics, both visual and audio, mesh together quite well, creating an experience that's quite fun for the price.
The difficulty curve is a bit erratic, due to the aforementioned problems of not knowing what you're going to be facing until the level you face it, making some research paths a lot more frustrating than others, but I'm confident that there's something for every sort of tower defence player here, with several building types, classes of weapons, and ways of getting more money. The random powerups, which fall fairly slowly (I'm not quite sure if they fall too slowly or not) are quite useful, and can be carried between levels, and my only criticism of the boss levels is that, since you don't have a clue which path the boss monster is going to come from, it's very hard to set up a proper defence, especially in the early levels.
Still, the replay value is excellent, and the game is that good mix of simple to learn, but hard to master that will keep people coming back. A definite thumbs up from Game-Boyz, although we really would recommend Puppygames work something out with the resource collection.