Tower Defense is a popular app genre on the mobile platform, and for good reason – quick games with a lot of depth and strategy are a great platform for a game to go. A lot of the TD games available now are a simple variation on the basic formula, offering a different theme on a typically identical system. So it’s always worth mentioning when something comes along that shakes things up and introduces us to a new gameplay style. Tower Defense: Lost Earth, from com2us, is just such a game, bringing beautiful graphics and a whole slew of enemies and towers to combat them with. Is this enough to make a great game, or does it simply complicate things?
To answer that question, let’s take a look at the basics that Lost Earth brings to the table. The basic gameplay is there – you have waves of enemies trying to move on your base structure and destroy it, and you can purchase stationary defense towers to repel them. Killing enemies awards you with credits with which you can buy more towers or upgrade the ones you have, making them stronger.
However, Lost Earth isn’t content to rest on the genre’s laurels, and what’s been mentioned so far is just about all it has in common with every other game in the Tower Defense category.
For starters, the game has a great selection of game modes to try. There’s a full-featured campaign, spanning 40 levels and actually featuring some semblance of a story. In the future, Earth’s natural resources are dwindling close to nothing, and you are part of an exploration team sent to examine and colonize a new planet. However, this entails establishing bases across the planet’s surface and fending off the natural wildlife with – what else – towers. The campaign does a great job of showing you the ropes, teaching you something new every step of the way while avoiding the feeling of hand-holding. The gradual unlocking of additional tower types also keeps the entire campaign feeling fresh, and it never drags.
Unlike many other TD games available, there’s multiple ways for you to approach combat besides simply planting towers. Tapping on an enemy will have your towers focus on it; this is a great way to target down bigger, tougher enemies, and there are even some enemies that require this tactic, as towers won’t automatically fire on them. Most stages also include a super weapon you’re able to deploy once per mission. These weapons are usually tuned to the stage they’re on, such as a nuke for tightly-winding paths or carpet bombs for eradicating a group of enemies on a longer path. Used wisely, these weapons can turn the tide of a near-defeat.
There’s still plenty to do once you beat the Campaign. For starters, Challenge mode lets you compete on seven unique levels with the world, vying for the top spot on the global leaderboards. These levels are a cut above the Campaign in difficulty, and will definitely test your expertise with your full assortment of towers, as well as manipulating enemy movement with intelligent placement of your towers. Similar to Challenge mode is a selection of Special Missions that also support Leaderboards. There’s only two stages at time of writing, but more may be added later via in-app purchases.
TD:LE does a great job of showcasing the graphical power of mobile devices. The game’s graphics are all 2D sprites, but boast an incredible level of detail and some present the illusion of depth. Towers and enemies look unique and animate fluidly. Towers and special weapons unleash their firepower with spectacular intensity. All in all, Lost Earth is a treat to the eyes. However, its audio doesn’t quite live up to the same standard. The firing sound of each tower is appropriate to its level of power, and the main menu music is fantastically catchy, but otherwise, there isn’t much to speak of. The sound lacks punch, and enemies make generic snarling noises when defeated. The sound in-game serves a more functional role rather than contributing to the game’s aesthetic; if you don’t hear anything, it means nothing is happening. Otherwise, if a tower is firing, an enemy is dying, your base is getting destroyed, or a super weapon is inbound, you’ll know it.
Tower Defense: Lost Earth is an excellent example of where the Tower Defense genre can go. By taking the gameplay beyond the basic formula, Lost Earth injects a much-needed breath of fresh air into a genre generally lousy with carbon copies. With a generous campaign and loads of challenges to take on, Lost Earth is one of the best values you’ll find on the App Store or Google Play today.
FINAL SCORE: 8.5 / 10 = BUY IT!