geoDefense Review

Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Price: $2.99

In the last few weeks, WP7 users have been treated to some of the best tower defense games around. Mainly, with the release of Plants vs. Zombies, most people will be satisfying their tower defense fix. However, to leave the praise just to PopCap’s gem would be a disservice to Critical Thought Games’ geoDefense. The brunt of the media and adulation will go to (deservedly so) PvZ, but allow me to give geoDefense it’s deserved due praise as well. If you are looking for a traditional tower defense game, and want it to be hard as nails, look no further than geoDefense.

Gameplay

In geoDefense you have the very hard task of defending a spot from the rushing advance of enemies. These enemies will come through a pre-determined path, always in waves, and always getting a little stronger to defeat with each passing wave. At the end of this path lies the finish line, a place that once an enemy reaches, it reduces your pre-allotted lives. You start with fifteen lives in the early going, but believe me, even at the easier levels, fifteen seems like not enough. When I say to you that geoDefense is brutal, and not for the feint of heart, I may be simplifying too much. No, geoDefense is infuriatingly psychotic and harsh. It brings forth a level of difficulty that is hard to find in the swath of casual games that are the norm for this type of platform. It may even warrant phone insurance for some of the more knee-jerk reaction-ists amongst us. geoDefense will kick your butt, and it will do it with a smile.

All of this would be meaningless if you were up against an unmovable mountain for a challenge, but alas it all can be overcome with planning and thought. For all the harshness that can be found in this game, it can be directly linked to a lack of planning by the player. However, if you take the time and plan a measure of attack that will allow you to stop the enemy in its tracks, you will be rewarded with victory. It really comes down to upgrading and tower positioning. Understanding what sort of range, power, and money involved to upgrade said towers is key to creating a working strategy. And believe me, you can’t fall asleep and take it easy, keeping a watchful eye on all your towers and empty spaces is also instrumental. I’ve lost many a time because I thought I had a strong enough foundation, then just eased up on my vigilance only to see my defenses compromised and the enemy run me over.

The towers you use are useful, but they’ll need a lot of help from you for them to be effective at the end of each stage. Instead of having a multitude of towers to choose from, geoDefense gives you 5 types of towers, but each tower has a level that you can upgrade them to. As you defeat enemies, there is a small cash reward for each of them you destroy. This cash can be used to upgrade each tower to it’s maximum of seven levels. The towers are your usual types of gun turrets, missile towers, laser beams and such. As you upgrade through the levels, the guns themselves start to evolve and become more lethal in their damage given. Their range is improved, as well as the cash that you can get back if you decide to recycle the turret to free up space or money. It’s a good system that is mostly about evolving your defenses to the ever increased difficulty that each passing wave of enemy brings. Be on your guard, upgrade your towers, and repeat.

Placing towers is a simple matter too. Once you have enough money to purchase a tower, just click the tower of your choice from the menu and slide it to the location that you want. The game will limit how close you can place a tower next to another one, so be careful about tower placement. Space is a premium, and the more towers you can place in the smallest of spaces, the better you’ll be off. A little bug that I found through playing the game is that you’ll have to be careful how many fingers touch the screen when placing a tower. If you are dragging a tower onto a location and you accidentally touch a place on the screen with a loose finger, that tower will end up on that last tap of the screen. Just be careful where you touch and it will be okay.

Overall, the game is satisfying just on the sheer amount of difficulty you’ll encounter, but undoubtedly overcome if you commit yourself. It isn’t easy, but this level of brutality is refreshing to see on a phone that usually boasts its casualness.

Graphics, Music, Presentation

It’s pretty.

That’s all you have to know. If you like the visual style of Geometry Wars and OMG: Our Manic Game, you’ll love geoDefense. The simple graphics and smooth play allow the action to run at a pretty nice framerate. The colorful explosions, lasers and overall moving, flashing things onscreen is magnificent to watch. Particles fly, and enemies fragment into thousands of pieces when they explode. There is even a cool looking wave effect after each major explosion. Definitely, screenshots do not do this games visual style justice.

As for music, there is none to speak of. The only sound you’ll hear is the constant explosions, shots fired and the mechanic female voice indicating that you’ve lost a life. It’s a dry experience, and one that would spruce it up with a techno beat in the background.

Aside from the levels at hand, which there are 36 to choose from, there isn’t much else to do in the game. You have your limited leaderboards, and your options menu. Does the game need more content? I don’t think so. If you want to master all 36 levels, you’ll need an awful lot of time to defeat the waves you’ll encounter. The difficulty is staggering, and the commitment to defeating each level will take time.

Achievements, Extras, Etc.

As stated above, there isn’t much of extras to speak about. On the achievement side, you have some pretty intense achievements if you want to complete the 200 gamerscore. The hardest achievement is Hard Owned. This requires you to defeat each level without losing a single life. It will give you 30g’s for it, but you’ll probably give up your spare time for some while. I commend you if you achieve this…you have game.

In Closing…

geoDefense is hard, sadistic even. It will pressure you into a corner and pummel you into submission. It will undoubtedly destroy a few phones in the process of playing it. However, if you give it time and some brain power, you’ll come away from it pleased and addicted. It’s the sort of game where you have to scratch that itch, even if starts to bleed a little, just because releasing that pressure will make it feel good. geoDefense will probably get lost in the shuffle of the bigger games coming out this summer. The likes of Angry Birds and Plants vs. Zombies will always sink the attention of the media when it comes to powerhouse games. However, praise has to be given to geoDefesnse because it goes the route of hardcore. It doesn’t flinch, and it stays true to its difficulty through out the entirety of its 36 levels. If you value a good deal and truly, who doesn’t, you need to download this game right now.

Brave souls, that you are, bring on geoDefense.