by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Furthering the genre
I don’t know what happened. I used to like Tower Defense games, but then somewhere along the way the fun just dried out. It’s probably because there are too many games like Defense Technica out there. Games that do little else but repeat and emulate what was done before do nothing but stagnate the genre. Sure, you can add a few inconsequential gameplay mechanics to it, but if there are other problems with the game as well, it’s not going to make up for it.
Such is the case with Defense Technica.
Defense Technica follows the same premise is any other Tower Defense game: you are trying to defend enemy units to reach a core. In this case, it has a couple of special abilities. With one button you can heal up some of the damage it has taken. With another you can fire off a huge blast, taking out a huge area. Other than that, this is a Tower Defense game, pure and simple. You choose which towers to build in defense of the core, you place them in one of the predetermined locations, and hope that they are enough to hold off the waves of enemies that will come trying to destroy it.
When you destroy enemy units, they drop small cubes which you can pick up using your mouse cursor. These add to your overall resource score, which also increases by the very act of killing the units. It’s nice to have something to do while enemies are throwing themselves against your defenses and there’s even a satisfying little sound that plays whenever you pick up a resource cube. You can also speed up time to cut down on wait times, but the very fact that these time-saving and time-wasting mechanics have to be implemented uncover an underlying problem with the genre. It’s like admitting “Yeah, this bit of the game is boring. Here’s a mindless activity you can perform until you’ve got enough money to buy a new tower.”
The first few levels were easy, of course. Then there was a more challenging one. Followed by two insultingly easy levels. After which there was a level that took me at least ten goes to complete. So much for smooth difficulty curves. I eventually completed that level by abusing the AI. Enemies follow the quickest path to your core, so I continually built and removed a cheap barricade, causing the enemies to confusedly walk backwards and forwards along the same path while my full arsenal fired upon them. I don’t know whether this is intentional or not, but it certainly didn’t seem like the most elegant solution. During this level I got a good look at my foes by zooming in on them as they marched up and down my killzone. A lot of them looked remarkably like low-res, slightly reskinned StarCraft units.
You can earn up to three medals by performing well on each level. These medals are used to unlock upgrades for towers. If you have played a Tower Defense game before, you’ll know what sort of towers you can get. There’s the ‘one that shoots everything’, the ‘area of effect one’ that spews flames, the ‘short range but high damage one’, the ‘anti-air one’, the ‘slowing down the enemies’ one, the ‘long range one’, and ‘the one that shoots everything but slightly better than the other one...one’. The very first upgrade I decided to unlock was for the Laser Tower, because it sounded like that would be pretty good at destroying stuff. It turned out I hadn’t even unlocked the tower yet, but it still allowed me to upgrade it, and I wasn’t able to undo my action. Sometimes your towers would kill something outside the range of where your cursor can go, meaning you can’t pick up the resources from it.
There were just so many infuriating aspects of the game… and they aren’t limited to gameplay either. Whenever you load the game, you have to skip through pages of text which outline the story. You’d think after having the story appear so many times while I’ve been reviewing it I could tell you what’s going on. Not really. It’s a sci-fi story, and bad guys are trying to destroy your stuff, and it’s the future. And when I first reached the menu, I had to check the game was running in the correct resolution, the menu looked that bad.
There’s not a lot to get excited about Defense Technica. It doesn’t look or sound particularly good, there are loads of issues, and there’s barely anything original about it. But when all is said and done, this is still a Tower Defense game. If you want to set up structures which blow up tons of dudes, then this does it competently. That might be enough for some, but it shouldn’t be. Where’s your ambition?
I kinda like the sound it makes when you pick up resources
Where do I start?