App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
I think it's safe to assume that we all know what we can expect from Elf Defense. It's got stationary upgradable units (i.e. towers), set paths, waves of various types of enemies and a single location that the enemies need to be kept from reaching. I couldn't fault anyone for thinking that it's more of the same, because in many ways it is, but there's just something about it. The way each of its elements come together make it what I would easily consider my ideal tower defense game.
In a slight twist on the basic "plot" one would expect from a game like this, the humans are encroaching on elven lands and must be driven back. Yes, people are the badguys here. Players assume control of the elves in an attempt to protect their sacred homeland via strategic unit placement and upgrading, while new units/towers are unlocked every couple of levels.
There's so much I love about Elf Defense it's hard to know where to begin. I'm a big fan of the cartoony/boxy visual style. I'm a sucker for visual indications of upgrades, and every single unit changes appearance when it's improved. The difficulty in each level ramps up steadily, giving me time to set up basic defenses before the tough guys show up. Cash is earned at a decent pace so I almost never feel like I've been left twisting in the wind thanks to being broke. Yet it's still very much possible to get overwhelmed so planning is still essential. Special items can be earned and used to "break" the rules a bit, such as shovels that can dig up tile-occupying rocks or hearts to repair a damaged base.
There's quite a bit of content outside of the gameplay, too. Each stage yields Holy Leaves, as I've mentioned, which can be spent to unlock new mercenary characters (powerful units that each have a unique special ability), permanently improve a specific tower unit and even boost the amount of leaves or coins earned in battle. On top of all that there are also three different worlds, each with their own unique levels, and they each have their own "Crazy" variant. Even assuming someone doesn't go nuts with trying to get a three suns (stars) rank for every stage that's still a lot to do.
Since I'm not a tower defense connoisseur I can't say for certain whether or not this will excite people who are. But as someone who tends to skirt the genre I can admit that I'm absolutely obsessed with Elf Defense. Aside from the lack of enemy wave previews that are typical of the genre, I've got no complaints. All of the little details come together to make a TD game that's perfect for me. Hopefully there are those out there who would agree.