Developer: Plow Digital
Version Reviewed: 1.04
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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A silent rule was set long ago by games like GeoDefense Swarm and Fieldrunners (after they added additional levels) stating that successful TD games should be hard, especially at later levels, and that units should look different when you upgrade them. These rules are really what people come to expect from TD games now, and when they aren't followed it really shows.
Last Front: Europe is a Tower Defense game that, at first glance, looks like a really solid foray into the genre. It has polished graphics, a style that works well with the genre, a bunch of missions, and even some little tweaks that add some spice. Based during WW2, Last Front: Europe has you fighting in all sorts of locations around the European and African theater, fighting the Nazis and their tank/plane/flame thrower driven army. Like any Tower Defense, you can build machine gun bunkers, rocket towers, and AA guns, but this one goes a bit further and lets you build individual troops that can be moved between turns, barbed wire and tank barriers to slow troop movement, and walls to help wrangle in troops.
On the hardest difficulty, called "General," the enemy troops actually do a good job of navigating around your fire. If you leave a spot unguarded, they'll find it. I found that if you just start at the end of the map though and build out from there (not leaving any gaps), it becomes very difficult to lose. So difficult to lose in fact that after about wave 30, I would often set my iPhone down and grab something to eat. Occasionally I would let a person or two through, but there was never any cause for worry.
The real problem though with Last Front was that it broke the second, and possibly the most important, silent rule: changing the look of the towers when they upgrade. The Tower Defense genre is a fairly stagnant one where you have to look at the same towers for long periods of time. Once you have too many on the screen they just get lost in the wasteland of towers, so without some sort of visual reference there's really no way, other than clicking on them all, to see which towers are upgraded and which aren't. With no dev experience, I don't really know how challenging a feat this is, but it's something that is critical to Tower Defense success.
As far as Tower Defense games go, this one sits right in the middle. The Sentinel series, Fieldrunner, and GeoDefense's of the world are definitely on a different level, but Last Front is definitely better than most of the others. If you're just craving a Tower Defense to play while waiting for the next great thing, you won't be too disappointed with Last Front -- just be sure to make your snack while, and not before, you're waiting for the final waves to arrive.