Area 51 Defense Review

Our Review by Rob Rich on December 23rd, 2011
Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: ALL TOO FAMILIAR
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Area 51 Defense might feel like Epic War TD with a new (ish) coat of paint at times, but it can still hold its own... right?

Developer: AMT Games
Price: $0.99
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating: starstarstarstarstar
User Interface Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Gameplay Rating: starstarstarblankstarblankstar
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

Overall Rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar

AMT Games' Epic War TD is a pretty popular tower defense game on the ol' App Store. Area 51 Defense is meant to be a more "mature version" of the original, but what does that mean exactly? Well to be perfectly honest, after playing quite a bit of it I'm still not entirely sure about the answer to that question.

As far as mechanics and user interface goes, Area 51 Defense is practically the exact same game as its older counterpart. Turrets are still placed using a hexagonal overlay, certain ones are more effective against certain enemies and they can each have three different aspects (damage, range and rate of fire) upgraded. A mix of enemy types will pour in from one part of the screen and follow a set path to the exit, and the goal is still to keep them from doing that by force.

The first thing anyone looking into Area 51 Defense on the App Store will notice is that it's friggin' gorgeous. And it is. The maps, turrets and enemies all look great. It's also impossible not to appreciate the fantastically detailed animations. Slap it over a fairly standard tower defense game and we have ourselves a winner. Only this isn't quite a "fairly standard" tower defense game, and that's a problem.

Right off the bat, I had issues with it. First it was the 3-lane paths: many turrets have trouble hitting enemies following the center line, and they seem to prefer taking turns over attacking simultaneously. Which led to plenty of misses. Then there was the realization that none of the maps actually indicate which direction enemies will come from or which path (if there are many) they'll use. Sure I can wait for them to start moving, pause and throw down towers, but it still seems like a massive oversight. After that it was the complete and total inability to upgrade a single tower until the ninth mission. What the heck is that about? Finally, thanks to iOS 5's handy top-of-the-screen tap, I couldn't place towers anywhere on the topmost portion of a map. The buttons just wouldn't register.

I had reasonably high hopes for Area 51 Defense, due in mo small part to the drool-inducing visuals, but the experience has dashed them to pieces. It's not a terrible tower defense game, but it's hard to recommend over the glut of other more user-friendly and downright enjoyable titles out there. Plus it kind of falters right out of the gate since it's so ridiculously similar to Epic War TD, which is free right now.

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