Back in September, we reported on the soft launch of Star Wars: Galactic Defense [Free]. Developed by the folks at DeNA, Galactic Defense is a freemium tower defense title complete with classic Star Wars heroes and locales to visit. While there’s a certain amount of fan service that makes Galactic Defense appealing on some level, the game’s actual execution leaves a lot to be desired.

On paper, Galactic Defense appears to have all the tools necessary for a great TD game. There’re plenty of maps to play through, each with various difficulties to encourage replay. A hero system vaguely similar to the likes of Kingdom Rush lets you take Star Wars icons (as well as a few obscure heroes and villains) into battle complete with special moves and a leveling system. There’s even a robust power-up system with a large variety of in-game upgrades and boosts to choose from (for a price, of course).

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Unfortunately, in practice everything mentioned above didn’t quite meet my expectations. Maps felt woefully generic, with little in terms of variety and character to distinguish themselves from each other. Speaking of characters, I was also disappointed with Galactic Defense’s heroes, both in terms of execution and selection. While most of the heroes obviously have a lot of backstory and clout to rely upon, the way they are used in Galactic Defense doesn’t do them justice.

To make matters worse, unlocking characters requires a great deal of in-game currency, and you can’t simply purchase them; you must buy a chance to unlock a randomized hero. I’m really not a fan of this type of unlocking mechanism and the fact that it requires IAP-levels of currency to purchase the “premium” heroes (coupled with the fact you could spend all that coin and get an already unlocked person) just kills a lot of the potential excitement.

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Speaking of IAP, Galactic Defense throws so much at the player in terms of power-ups and IAP, the whole experience felt a bit overwhelming. Tactics such as a one-time “special” when you launch the game the first time and encouraging IAP as one of the first things to do when playing the game places the emphasis squarely on IAP and less on actual gameplay. This is also evidenced by the fact that the hardest difficulties almost require players to invest heavily in those one-time power-ups simply to pass them. In fact, the most fair thing I encountered in Galactic Defense was the game’s energy system (yes, it has one of those too), which replenishes relatively quickly.

Finally, the TD gameplay itself feels quite basic and doesn’t offer anything novel or even interesting. Galactic Defense employs the standard types of towers and associated upgrades with little in terms of surprises for any TD fan that’s invested in the genre. While it’s been done before, a customizable experience system to improve towers and heroes would have gone a long way towards providing some motivation for play. As it stands, the leveling system doesn’t offer much (if anything) in terms of customization and doesn’t do a good job of giving the impression that your towers are actually improving with each passing level.

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I’m a huge fan of both Star Wars and Tower Defense, so a game like this seemed like a slam dunk in my mind. Unfortunately, the game feels more like a cash grab of a true TD game in the Star Wars universe that actually focused on gameplay or story. There’s nothing inherently wrong with Galactic Defense (assuming you don’t have an issue with freemium elements), but the entire experience feels so bland that it’s not particularly enjoyable, let alone being a game worth investing in. It’s truly a shame, because I feel like there’s a waste opportunity here. Of course, being freemium, you can certainly check out Galactic Defense with little risk, but I don’t think you’ll find much to enjoy.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Morgan01

    Exploit the Star Wars name as a cash grab? Who would have thought?!?

  • http://www.googlepants.com/ Wizard of Odyssey

    I never got into Kingdom Rush, but I like Star Wars. Reviewer is a bit jaded, as this is fun enough for people who haven't already played a dozen similar games already.

    • Morgan01

      That is the problem, there are already dozens of games just like this already. IOS games are becoming a fad and many lacking originality. One developer comes up with a new and popular game format, then dozens of copycat games with similar style and game mechanics appear, jumping on the band wagon to can in.

      • Onikage725

        It's kind of a weird problem for mobile. On consoles, a "genre-defining" title shows up, and numerous games try to emulate. But these are unique games, generally. They usually have some hook of their own, different feeling to the mechanics, etc. On mobile, it feels like for every successful game there must be x number of reskins with increasingly insulting IAP models. It's like buying a new Monopoly or Risk board. Do you like Clash of Clans and Kingdom Rush? Well now they come in Star Wars flavor!

  • xdynamiicxios

    This game is cash grab, iOS gaming is dead, only good year of it was in 2012z

    • Morgan01

      I have to agree. IOS games have become a cash grab fest with many games putting gaming mechanics behind, focussing more on bleeding wallets. I have gravitated back towards PC gaming with my laptop. PC games may be pricier initially with way better gaming mechanics, however, the way Freemium models on IOS has gone, a full price PC game is actually better and cheaper in the long run.

    • TeddyNYC

      I read a rumor yesterday on MacRumors that the next iPhone will have a 3D display. Imagine Tim Cook introducing Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aime at next year's iPhone 6s/6s Plus introduction!!!

    • Reaganomics

      I've been thinking the same. Maybe not in 2012, but the golden era of ios gaming has definitely passed. I had some of the best games on my iphone 3G!

    • Themostunclean

      As a formerly staunch defender of iOS gaming, it pains me to agree with you. I've almost entirely moved back to Vita and 3DS for my mobile gaming. iOS has become a ghetto of clones and cash-grabs and it's now become entirely too much work to sift through the garbage to find quality when I have a vast catalog of great titles on other platforms.

  • PoloBaquerizoH

    F2P free to waste your money and time

  • Teras

    It would keep crashing for me back when I tried it that made me after a couple of days to delete it. I could ignore for that time the huge amount of coins it needed for anything and the timers just to have my fun with a sw theme but yea those crashes made me delete it. Was it just me? I was playing it in an ipad mini.

  • dibdib

    You could have begun and ended the review with "DeNA"

  • http://adamsimmersive.com Adams Immersive

    "coupled with the fact you could spend all that coin and get an already unlocked person"

    Wow! Far from acceptable. That's all I needed to read.

    • Vain

      He left out that getting the same character isn't a bad thing (unless you were hoping for a new character). I got Darth Vader for free and then again with credits from achievements/completing levels. This raised Vader's max level from 15 to 20, and he's now my strongest character.

  • JCat_NY

    Wow! I left the ios camp for a year, as I had a 3rd gen iPad and lost interest because of the flood of freemium games. Fast forward-- now own an iPad Air 2, and love the unit. Suckfully, however, the premium nonsense has only gotten more prominent than ever.Well, at least if you search around, there are still gems among the greed like the recently released Super Glyph Quest and board games like Talisman.

  • uFinKnow

    I heard about this a long time back, I was really hoping they would set it up like Metal Slug Defense. It could have been Amazing if they followed that model. Oh well. Another crap Pay to win. I do really hope someone follows SNK's model on another great strategy/ defense game. Cheers.

  • ovalprocess

    Agree with the review completely. I found the game to be very bland.

  • klepp0906

    In app purchases? Bad? Who woulda thought? Make them free or make them cost... But this faux free IAP crap is ruining games almost as bad as the casuals are ruining the mmorpg genre.

Star Wars™: Galactic Defense Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 2.5