To start off I should probably mention my innate hatred of tower defense games. I find them to be repetitive, stagnant and unchallenging. It usually comes down to a simple math/geometry equations of calculating what DPS would be best in this particularly shaped track. With the nerd rage aside, what drew me to Revenge of the Titans even though it was a tower defense is the fact that people called this game hard. I love a challenge and when other people say something is challenging, I’m “that guy” who will best them at it just to prove how much better I am than they are at gaming. That said, this game kicked my ass WAY too many times. It is indeed one of the most challenging games that I have ever played. Instead of the typical tower defense of advancing waves of creeps in a uniform single line across a dedicated path, the roads in this game serve only as a suggestion to what way they should come, and the creeps are by no means bound to this path. The result is a game that forces you to think on your feet and actively position and reinforce certain places depending on the dynamics of the wave. It’s not the armchair general feel of most games but kind of like Starcraft if you could only defend rushes with photon-cannons (holy crap that was nerdy).
So with that first impression aside, let’s go to the heart of the game. Revenge of the Titans (further mentioned as RotT) was one of the games to be included in the Humble Indie Bundle 2 a while ago and comes from the small indie studio Puppygames. The game feels incredibly polished, especially from a small studio. In my opinion the feel of the game surpassed the average casual-game giant Popcap, an accomplishment for any studio. The game consists of three different modes, survival, campaign and endless. Survival is your typical never ending onslaught of creeps, campaign is a linearly progressing level based defenses, and endless is sort of in-between the two.
For campaign you start off on Earth, then go to the moon followed by Mars and Jupiter respectively. The maps change in their make up, so sometimes you’ll have creeps coming in from only one side, two sides or from everywhere. After you finish a mission you get a research point which will unlock new buildings/turrets/etc to help in your defense, or you can buy temporary upgrades like more starting cash next level or extra upgrades. The tech tree however is not about instant gratification and instead focuses on you investing in research that requires about 2 other components in order to unlock the building. For example, in order to unlock the spreader cannon (think laser shotgun) requires a total of 4 different research components: the standard blaster (which you start with), xenobiology, positron beam splitting and alien anatomy. So if you really wanted to power towards it, it would require about 4 levels to unlock (the three unresearched technologies and then the cannon itself). If this sounds confusing, it’s really not and you’ll pick it up with in 2 or 3 levels of the 40 level campaign. My only real complaint about the system is that it doesn’t allow you to reallocate points, so it essentially forces you to research something that you think sounds cool, and if it turns out that it sucks, then you can either replay all the proceeding levels and redo your tech tree or just deal with it.
A neat little feature they have in the game is instead of having different difficulties that you select, the game will default to giving you the hardest version of the map and only after you fail to beat it will it offer you the option of playing on a lower difficulty with decreased rewards. I personally never used this feature as it would hurt my pride too much to do so, but for someone who is more a casual gamer than he/she is a hardcore gamer, the features gets rid of the intensity of the levels and allows for a more traditional tower defense feel.
With the survival mode you are essentially thrown into a map with resources that spawn randomly (which you harvest with a refinery) and an initial sum of money and you try to starve off thousands of creeps that try to destroy your HQ. The feeling of survival mode is a lot more stressful has more tension than campaign mode. There are 3 different size variation of a total of 4 different maps making there 12 different map combinations with different terrain that you can try. The cool thing about this mode is that you can post your highscore online per map so if you can last an hour and set a highscore then you’ll be famous… Online in the RotT community for anyone who checks the highscore in survival mode. But famous nevertheless!
The last mode, endless mode is like mini campaign mode that just gets harder and harder without an end level, much as the name suggests. There are different levels, unlike survival, and it has the technology progression like campaign making it a nice middle ground for casual play.
My main issue I have with this game is that it is a casual game. It’s hard to sit myself down and play for an extended period of time, but it was good while waiting for a download or something else that would allow me to play a less-than-usually deep game yet still have it be fun. I give the game a 15 on the d20 for it’s incredibly solid, if not brutal, game play and quaint graphics, but I don’t find that the game has enough to offer to let you play for hours on end.