May 9, 2012

[Games] Tower Defense: Lost Earth (Android)

So we recently acquired an ASUS EEE Pad Transformer TF101 and as much as it has obvious business applications in terms of being a handy way to make presentations to potential clients while away from a formal board room or projector (e.g. like when meeting with potential hotel partners at their resorts), naturally I'm curious about the other applications that get into the mix of things, especially the games.

This device counts as our first ever tablet, our first foray into the Android environment and probably the most gadgety purchase I've ever made apart from my Amazon Kindle 3. So expect more Android app reviews in the future, although primarily from the perspective of a tablet user and not a mobile phone user. There will be differences, I'm sure, and this game is probably a good example.

I love tower defense games - and I have Tobie to blame for this particular fascination. I guess it employs that slightly more strategic part of my brain that has enjoyed so many different real-time strategy games over the years. And that's a particular itch that I don't mind scratching, even on a "mere" casual gaming basis.

Tower Defense: Lost Earth is a tower defense game developed by Moonblossom Studios under Com2uS that was released for IOS in 2011 and for Android in 2012.

The premise of the game (and yes there's an actual story) is that the human race is now looking for a new planet to call home and have encountered a variety of alien creatures who threaten their outputs. Thus as you explore each new location, you'll also face a variety of new foes as you struggle to stay alive.

If you've played any other tower defense game, then you're going to experience a lot of the usual tropes of the genre. You have a variety of towers that can be placed in limited locations on the map around a defined path for enemies to traverse. Each tower can be upgraded or sold as needed. And killing monsters gives you more resources which you can use to either purchase new towers or upgrade existing ones. The main bonus of this game are the inclusion of super weapons like nuclear strikes that can have rather dynamic effects on the battle. Plus there are opportunities to actually gather resources from specific tiles much like you would harvest resources in your typical RTS game.

Each stage is represented on a larger map grid that really gives you the feeling of running a military campaign. Before you begin you get a glimpse of the aliens that you'll be fighting and the various towers you can bring with you given a limit of six tower slots. You have all the good stuff like a basic canon, a tower that slows enemies and of course towers that do splash damage, to name a few. But the whole thing has an interesting futuristic feel that has me inevitably making StarCraft references and associations in my head while playing. And that's a bit of a bonus, at least for me being a geek, given it ads another dimension of fun to the game.

And you really get that sense of overwhelming dread in the later stages once the alien armies get bigger and bigger and more and more action seems to be taking place on the screen. I can't quite imagine playing this on a mobile phone given the need to be able to quickly manage multiple towers in latter stages. I'm still having a bit of a struggle on a 10.1" tablet and that's saying much. Plus unlike a lot of the phone-based reviews I've read for this game, I've had no issues with the game crashing towards the end of a stage. Given the rather beautiful HD graphics involved, I can understand why it might be hard for a smaller device to handle the resource demands of the game efficiently.

Apart from the basic Campaign mode that tells the story as you go from stage to stage, the game also offers interesting Challenges that have you trying to figure out how to defend your outpost under various conditions like no starting resources, the aliens walking on the path where you would normally build your towers and so on. Thus it gives you a variety of play options.

So far, this game has been taking up a lot of my time - and this is considering it's free to download on the Google Play Store. Thus the game (as optimized for tablets) rates a full 5 annoyingly fast mini-aliens running across the screen out of a possible 5 and probably just a 4 outside of the tablet environment.
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