Version Reviewed: 0.1.7
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2
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Tower Defense games are plentiful on the iPad. Whether it be zombies and horticultural anomalies or the ever pretty Fieldrunners, choice isn't a problem for strategy fans. While Age of Defenders follows the typical path of a tower defense game, it offers one fundamental and potentially compelling difference: a focus on multiplayer gaming.
Age of Defenders does offer a single player campaign of sorts but the main fun stems from the online multiplayer functionality that allows players around the world to compete against each other. Before we delve into that side of things however, let's take a look at how Age of Defenders plays.
The game offers a more PC friendly appearance, echoing such RTS classics as Starcraft. Unlike many other titles on the iPad, there's no sign of cutesy characters or even a plot to speak of. All the player needs to know is that it's kill or be killed. The player has a base on one side of the screen while the enemy has a base on the other. It's then a matter of sufficiently defending the base while simultaneously attacking and ultimately destroying the enemy base. Thus begins a careful endeavour of juggling resources adequately.
The single player campaign doubles as a form of tutorial explaining each part of the game. It's quite simple to get to grips with anyway but the tutorial and subsequent campaign offers something to play when away from an internet connection. 6 different tower types are available to defend with, while the same number of offensive units are also provided. The early stages of the campaign focus on defensive before a return to the offensive capabilities available. Dragging and dropping is all that's needed to place units with few restrictions placed. Resources can also be regained through placing mining style units on the revelant square to rejuvenate the resource stocks. The enemies available range from fast yet limited suicide drones to airplanes and powerful tanks, keeping things interesting throughout. A simple upgrade system coupled with secondary firing methods goes one step further in adding depth.
With only five single player campaign missions plus the tutorial level, the focus in Age of Defenders is very much on the multiplayer mode. It looks pretty promising too, assuming the community remains steady. This is where I encountered trouble. Set up was a breeze, a chatroom providing the main way to communicate, but I struggled to find anyone to play against. For a new title, it's clear why this is the case but it does make me mildly concerned for the future. It's a lag free experience that's certainly enjoyable but Age of Defenders is also a title available solely for the iPad 2 thus reducing the user base.
The developers behind Age of Defenders have already stated their intentions of adding new maps (currently, there are only two to choose from but they are good ones), extra single player levels and new towers and units. Such regular support is what will define this game and ensure that it achieves the success it richly deserves. As the version number, 0.1.7, denotes, this is a game that's still got a lot of growing to do but it already has a fine foundation to fall back on.