Price: $2.99/$4.99 Universal
App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
I'm not what anyone would call a tower defense fan. I've always found the general strategic-turret-placement genre boring, with one exception. Actually, that's not true. After spending lots of late nights and battery-draining days with Tower Defense Lost Earth, I now have two exceptions.
Tower Defense: Lost Earth is in many ways a typical tower defense game. There are plenty of towers to utilize, a number of different hostile threats to annihilate, lots of winding paths for them to mindlessly file into and a base (sometimes several) that needs protecting. The one addition (as far as I know) to the formula is the inclusion of both tile-blocking growths that can be destroyed for resources and special resource-gathering towers that can be built on specific tiles to routinely gather the precious purple stuff. It also touts forty levels spread between five different areas (arctic, desert, etc...), so there's little danger of running out of stuff to do. Even if each level is completed, every stage can be replayed on one of three difficulties while special awards can be earned through various actions. Outside of the campaign, there's also a special challenge mode featuring online leaderboards. Completionists will have a field day with this one.
Each stage in Tower Defense: Lost Earth uses the same basic "defend the base" framework, but there are actually four distinct game types available. Defense is the standard experience everyone has come to expect of the genre. Survival removes the wave counter and replaces it with an actual timer, forcing players to desperately hold out until it hits zero. Resource can be tricky because it requires earning a set amount of funds for the round to end, so it's a careful balancing act between building and hording. Finally, Attack places a stationary enemy target on the map that needs to be destroyed. It's essentially a race to see how fast the surrounding obstacles can be cleared before the waves get too ridiculous to fend off.
It's also an incredible-looking game. I know it makes me sound like "one of those people" when I say it, but the visuals are really what drew my attention to it in the first place. The graphics strike that perfect balance between stylized, cartoony and serious. Each turret looks colorful and distinct, telling the difference between stock and upgraded placements is a snap... heck, they're even fun to watch as they tear hostile alien creatures to shreds. It also supports "pinching" to adjust the zoom; whether it's in order to get a better look at the battlefield or just to ogle the great-looking critters and critter-blasters.
Of course, no game is truly perfect and Tower Defense: Lost Earth doesn't change that. The levels can get ridiculously tough, even in the earlier areas on Easy. It's not entirely unexpected, but it does mean that some levels might take hours upon hours of repeat attempts before they're finally completed. Another issue is the occasionally wonky tap selection. Don't get me wrong, the interface is actually fantastic in its simple elegance but sometimes the game will think I selected something I didn't, which usually results in a few turrets shooting at one of those tile-blockers while the real threat meanders by unnoticed. It can be fixed by simple tapping the target a second time or by tapping on an enemy, but sometimes in the heat of the moment that just leads to accidentally tapping on an empty square and pulling up the build menu.
Aside from these minor gripes, Tower Defense: Lost Earth is a fantastic game. One that genre lovers and armchair generals should not miss. Even people who don't generally care for tower defense games might want to give it a try or at least check out the gameplay video below. It's certainly won this jaded nitpicker over.