A few days ago we were invited by ngmoco:) to enter a competition against several other gaming sites by playing an early release of their highly anticipated tower defense game, Star Defense.
The rules are simple: ngmoco:) posts a challenge in the morning, we all survive as many rounds as we can, then post our high scores on Twitter. Each day the highest scoring competitors advance, and whoever does the best by Friday will be the Star Defense champion!
(To keep track on my progress as I represent Touch Arcade in the Mayday! Twitter Challenge, follow @hodapp. If you want to see how I'm comparing against other people competing, either check out the #StarDefense hash tag, or go to the ngmoco:) Star Defense site and click the "Mayday! Twitter Challenge" link.)
If you've already been following my Twitter feed, you've no doubt noticed I've been playing most of the day and I really like what I've seen so far. Star Defense takes the tried and true tower defense genre that many iPhone gamers have come to love and mixes things up by having your enemies path along a 3D sphere.
I'll admit, when I saw the first videos, I was undecided as to whether or not this would turn out to be an amazing gameplay element or merely a gimmick. But after already losing track of how many games I've played, I can safely say that it's going to be very hard to go back to my former non-3D tower defense favorites.
The camera controls are remarkably intuitive, and anyone familiar with the classic iPhone gestures will be right at home without any kind of tutorial. Everything works exactly how you would expect, complete with inward and outward pinching gestures to zoom, using two fingers to rotate, and dragging your finger to pan the camera. Your array of towers to choose from lines the right side of the screen, and the left side displays information about the current wave of enemies as well as how long until the next wave emerges.
Like most games in the genre, Star Defense features different damage types from each tower, such as the "Neo-Plasma Blaster" setting enemies on fire and the "Phase Coil" inflicting electrical damage. As you progress through the waves of enemies, you eventually encounter some that are resistant to certain types of damage. While it may seem like a good idea to amass "Gauss Turrets" since they're so cheap and seemingly effective early on, heavily armored enemies will later walk right by them without breaking a sweat.
The tower types and the variety of enemies, while being pretty cool, aren't what make Star Defense what it is. The 3D viewpoint, and only ever being able to see half of the world you're defending at a time, creates an amazingly hectic and fast paced experience. Between zooming in to precisely place towers and manage upgrades, and zooming out and quickly panning the camera around to see if any enemies got by your existing defenses, you rarely have a chance to rest between waves.
New Trailer Video
I'm really blown away with Star Defense, and what I've seen so far is only a fraction of what the complete game is going to be. This early build is not a full release and only allows access to the designated challenge levels. With any luck, I'll fare pretty well in the tournament. I'm currently holding the highest score having survived 49 rounds, with the second best only coming in at 34.
With a little refinement to my defense strategies, I think I stand a good chance at bringing home fame and fortune to Touch Arcade! Wish me luck!