Developer: Phenom Studios
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Ocean Patrol tries to upend the old tower defense formula by skipping the pesky towers themselves and putting its firepower right at players’ fingertips. By cutting out the middleman, the action theoretically becomes faster and more direct. However, while this decision doesn’t sink the game, it creates more problems than it solves.

IMG_0587[1]Most of Ocean Patrol‘s design sticks closely to the tower defense template. Enemy battleships and submarines snake their way through predetermined paths in the water, and players must blast them to the ocean floor before they reach their goal. From the cute yet uninspired cartoon artwork to the forgettable music, a cursory glance suggests this is merely a generic also-ran. But, the game’s most prominent mechanic is also its biggest deviation from formula. Instead of placing towers on the battlefield to autonomously deal with enemies, players plant each torpedo by hand. 

Through this intriguing twist, Ocean Patrol changes the way players will strategize during each encounter. Different torpedoes, like the unlockable depth charges and multi-attack lightning bombs, take different amounts of time to activate. When spacing out their attacks, players must keep these timings in mind. Players can also upgrade the torpedoes and gain new perks like extra ammo per respawn. Once a match really gets going, this more hands-on approach brings some of the flavor of more involving strategy games to tower defense.

IMG_0588[1]However, the game rarely stays in that sweet spot for long. In the easy opening rounds, players can simply and lazily tap in the general area of the handful of ships they want destroyed. When the tough final wave rolls in, players will still just be tapping, but now faster and more desperately. For every moment of gameplay that’s engaging there’s another that’s equally tedious. By shifting the time-consuming grunt work of manually shooting invaders from the towers to the player, the player is then robbed of the long-term satisfaction that comes from actually planning out a defense and watching it succeed.

Ocean Patrol offers up a fun enough vision of tower defense without towers. But, it fails to show why that even was necessary in the first place.

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