iPad Game Review: Tower Defense: Lost Earth HD
Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Tower Defense: Lost Earth HD (TD: LE) has the distinction of being the only tower defense game that can use the words Tower Defense in the title now that Com2uS has cleverly trademarked it. This little move has raised many an eyebrow in the mobile gaming community, and has unfortunately raised expectations beyond a reasonable amount. If you ignore the naming controversy, however, you will find a solid tower defense game that mostly succeeds, although primarily through a kitchen sink approach.
In Tower Defense: Lost Earth you are tasked with placing defensive structures in order to stop the onslaught of enemies that spew forth from the edge of the screen. There are nine different types of towers, all of which are upgradeable. There are also ten different enemy types, although all of these can be distilled down to only three categories: slow, fast, and very fast (with varying levels of toughness). Each of the 10 enemies has a vulnerability to a particular tower type, and figuring out which tower to use is essential to success, much like an iPad-based game of rock/paper/scissors with lots of explosions.
There is a campaign, of course, complete with a fairly standard back story; something about survival of the human race, exploiting resources on an alien planet, blah, blah. It?s not groundbreaking, but, like the game itself, it?s got lots of polish. Herein lies my only real complaint with the game; there?s nothing really new here. Don?t get me wrong, this is a complete package with a very high production value. As you play it, however, you?ll have an unmistakable and disappointing feeling of d?j? vu, even as you plow your way through a very generous and well-balanced campaign and seven challenge maps.
As you play through the campaign, you will encounter various maps that offer one of four different game modes. These consist of: Standard, Survival, Resource-Gathering, and Attack. Of the three, only the Attack mode brings something new to the table. In it, you will set up your defenses normally, however, to complete the level you will need to expand your towers far enough to take out the Boss. If you?re somebody who prefers to upgrade before you expand, you may want to rethink your strategy here. Most of the missions have pre-determined path, though parts of some missions let you place towers anywhere on the map to lead or block enemies. Lastly, for those competitive souls, TD: LE supports leaderboards through Apple?s Game Center.
The graphics in TD: LE are adequate, but a bit disappointing for a game with such a high profile. The units and enemies aren't as smoothly animated as some other offerings, and everything has a sort of cartoonish, low rez look. Again, perhaps my expectations were set too high but I found myself feeling distinctly underwhelmed. Surprisingly, this is in stark contrast to the game menus, which have a crisp, high resolution look.
The in-game music is pretty standard fare, and I found myself turning it off almost immediately. When it comes to game soundtracks, I am notoriously hard to please so your mileage may vary. Unfortunately, I also found the sound effects to be surprisingly generic, and not very memorable. Within 30 minutes, I was playing in complete silence with no discernable loss of enjoyment; not a good sign.
Tower Defense: Lost Earth HD is a solid tower defense game with a ton of gameplay; although it's almost complete lack of innovation is a serious concern. If, however, you're a fan of this genre and subscribe to the adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," you're likely to find a great deal of value here. While the graphics and sound are disappointing, there is literally hours of gaming here so turn down the music, lower your expectations regarding the only official Tower Defense game, and dig in.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 3 - Underwhelming, but adequate.
Sound: - 2 - forgettable soundtrack, and unimaginative sound effects.
Controls: - 5 - An accurate touch interface, with a good, uncluttered design.
Gameplay: - 3 - D?j? vu; and not in a good way.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Upgrading existing towers is almost always a better strategy than spamming low level ones. If you're having trouble with a level, familiarize yourself with the available towers; chances are, you're missing something vital.
Release Date: May 25, 2011
Buy App: Tower Defense: Lost Earth HD
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