App Reviewed on: iPad
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Tower defense has been an enormously popular genre on iOS. Many can attest to this fact. As a result, I've met each "new" game of this type with increasing amounts of skepticism. What more can these games be than an exercise in money management and patience in a rinse and repeat cycle?
Enter Pirate Legends TD. In this game, players defend a pirate ship from enemy vessels much in the same way many would expect from a tower defense game, but for a few key reasons it doesn't feel tired. There's just so much to do at any given time in Pirate Legends that it breathes a bit of new life into a somewhat stagnant genre.
To play Pirate Legends, players simply build towers in predefined areas on a map of meandering waterways. Towers start as one of four types: a basic gun tower, an area-of-effect cannonball tower, a progress-impeding slime tower, and a armor-piercing voodoo tower. Despite the relatively low number of tower types, each one is specialized and can be upgraded in specific ways to make each feel increasingly unique and necessary. Plus, there are 16 additional types that present themselves further along in the game. That being said, sole reliance on towers won't get players very far in Pirate Legends.
To effectively complete each level in the game, players must take advantage of relic powers, aerial assistance, and other powers to defend against the armies and bosses they encounter. It's through the use of these tools - like a turtle cannon, a kraken, and hired mercenaries - that makes playing Pirate Legends more active and fun than traditional tower defense. Instead of building towers and waiting to upgrade or build more, players can be adjusting flares for their aerial support, launching turtles, and even aligning their ship's cannons to fire on enemies coming from a specific direction.
By providing players with a lot of options and variety, Pirate Legends in turn becomes a more successful game. Players do not have to rely on any one specific strategy to win, but a strong sense of challenge persists throughout the experience. Luckily, as players complete levels they can purchase upgrades for towers and powers that they like using the most so they can keep up with the increasingly difficulty level, but sadly some of these upgrades seem gated by real money paywalls; which isn't great for a game that already costs $3.99.
Bottom line: Pirate Legends is a really fun tower defense game that also looks pretty great. That being said, it's still very much a tower defense game and it asks players that want full content access to shell out more beyond its sticker price. For players who like tower defense games and don't mind paywalls, Pirate Legends is most certainly worth getting. Otherwise, they might want to look elsewhere.