iPad Game Review: Gem Keeper (Universal)
Reviewed by JadeDragon
Wemo is the mobile social gaming arm of NCsoft who brought us Guild Wars and City of Heroes. For iOS and Android platforms via Wemo, we get bright-colored, touch-friendly games such as Gem Keeper, a polished tower defense game that's fun and addictive. With a good amount of gameplay, eye-catching graphics and equally bright sounding audio, Gem Keeper takes us on a gem keeping frenzy where you must defend your gems from cute enemies like squirrels, turtles, dragons and more.
The gameplay in Gem Keeper is immediately gripping. Though the game introduces you to new defense towers and enemies throughout the game, it puts you right into the battles from the first level on. While you are learning what each tower does and how to best to place them for different enemy units, you feel the heat and frenzy throughout the game. Gem Keeper has four themed worlds (Forest, Ice, Christmas and Mine) with different background settings for the towers. Each themed world has 10 stages, and the first time play through unlocks the Endless mode.
Gem Keeper offers a good selection of defense towers that have enough varied functions to make the battle choices easier. Although in general, more expensive towers have more damaging powers, knowing which tower is more effective against which enemy unit is essential for the more difficult levels. As with many TD games, Gem Keeper encourages players to upgrade their current towers more than building new ones. Add additional factor of speeds of different enemies as well as ground troops vs. flying units, the gameplay is intriguing to say at the least, and warrants replays with different strategies.
Another intriguing aspect of the gameplay is that the enemies need to not only reach your towers with gems but also they need to return their closest base with the gems. If you stop them on their way back, you can recollect the gems with your trusty (and upgradable) transport robots. This is a necessary set-up as the maps are quite short by tower defense game standards, and feels complete when you can get your enemies/gems on the way back.
Gem Keeper has varied maps that keep things interesting, and movable towers, which is a rare concept for tower defense games. The AI keeps the game tempo reasonable, challenging but management, until you play Endless Mode. With some skills and strategies, you should put up pretty good fights in each of the three difficulty levels. But when it comes to Endless mode, the AI seems to have very limited level settings, and no matter how well you master your skills and have all the high level towers in your collection, you will still die after a dozen waves. This is the one letdown in the gameplay where you should be rewarded with dozens if not hundreds of waves. The game also doesn't have a open-map level currently.
Gem Keeper has that console-quality-graphics look with excellent designs and bright colors. The towers look very different from each other and they stand out from the background. The enemy monsters are cute yet menacing at the same time, creating an emotional response from the players who first feel bad shooting at them but then later on try to smack down the bosses that damage your towers. Each themed world has its own environment and the details are noticeable. As a whole package, the graphics in Gem Keeper are very eye-catching. The game looks sharp on both the iPhone and iPad.
The audio package in Gem Keeper matches the visuals with loud tracks with bright themes. The techno action themed music feels natural for the gameplay and the sound FX reflects the tower firing and enemies' actions.
Gem Keeper is a solid Tower Defense game with a good amount of gameplay/replay and a complete visual and audio package. The game is polished with good level designs as well as tower and enemy units. The AI works well in Adventure mode but falls apart in Endless mode. It has Game Center support as well as Wemo social gaming features.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Inventive designs, bright and sharp. Animations are smooth.
Sound: - 4.5 - Nice sound tracks and good FX.
Controls: - 5 - Smooth and responsive, flawless actions with touch screen control.
Gameplay: - 4 - Nice tempo, solid AI until Endless mode.
Playing Hints and Tips:
-Make sure you pick the right spots for your towers, and watch out for those flying enemies.
-Be sure to have towers that take care of both fast and slow enemies, ground and air troops.
Release Date: Oct 14, 2011
Buy App: Gem Keeper
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