App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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When aliens meet up with mankind they tend to have ominous intentions. Not so in ERA Deluxe. This time the aliens have come to humanity in desperate need of assistance. Of course that ultimately just means having to fight a totally different bunch of aliens while protecting the friendly ones. So no galactic peace this time, but at least it makes for a pretty cool tower defense game.
ERA Deluxe is a mish-mash of genre mechanics that work together to create an incredibly replayable game. Some maps use predefined enemy paths, others are totally open and force players to create their own using their defenses. There are quite a few enemy varieties that can fly independently (i.e. not on a path), turn invisible, and even damage towers, but there are also ways to counter them. All structures can be upgraded to improve their range and overall effectiveness. The same structures can also be permanently upgraded from the main menu using experience and currency earned through play. And, of course, the action can be paused at any time to take stock and make a few careful executive decisions. On top of all that, there are also three modes (Campaign, Challenge, and Endless) to really put players to the test.
I'll admit that while I've seen most, if not all, of these tower defense ideas before I don't recall ever seeing all of them crammed together like they are in ERA Deluxe. I'm even more surprised at how well they all seem to balance each other out. Playing on the default Casual difficulty is a great way to cut one's teeth on the campaign, and the experience earned can be used to power-up towers for the tougher settings. The Challenge mode is also a great way to build up skills and rake in experience. The enemy and tower types are varied but still feel familiar to anyone who's spent time with similar games. The heroes (giant, moveable flying saucers) are also a welcome addition that can really help in a pinch with special abilities but aren't so powerful that they become a game breaker. It's like a love letter to tower defense fans that also caters to genre virgins.
About all I can criticize ERA Deluxe for is the speed with which players can upgrade their stuff. At least in the beginning it can take a while to earn enough to start upgrading towers and heroes. Of course it's not exactly necessary on the default difficulty so this is a fairly minor issue.
ERA Deluxe is pretty much a one-stop shop for all things tower defense. What's so crazy about it is that all of the incorporated elements work so well together. It offers something for everyone, provided they have even a vague interest in tower defense. What I want to know is, where can it go from here?