Saturday, 19 March 2011

Review: Revenge of the Titans

Revenge of the Titans

Developer: Puppygames
Publisher: Shaven Puppy Ltd

They came out from outer space and without warning, unleashed an unprovoked worldwide assault upon the Earth. We developed defensive towers to defend ourselves from this threat we called The Titans, for no apparent reason! Oh wait, it's because you find out that they're coming from Titan!

Developed by Puppygames, Revenge of the Titans is a Tower Defense game which spans a full 50 mission campaign waged over four different planet locations, contains some devilish resource management and a total of 40 different technologies and 29 buildings to research.

The Planet Select screen. Everything looks so peaceful from up here...
Not following your typical Tower Defense approach there are no defined lanes of attack, money earned or saved carries on to the next mission and you can actually pick your own technological upgrade path. Enemies come from various marked points but form a ragged battle line as they approach your position, often advancing along a path which boggles the mind and completely baffles your defensive line. Each level tends to be an interesting challenge when you know that Titans can destroy your defensive turrets if you place them in their path, especially when the turrets have only a short range.

The research element is great fun with plenty of different options to explore, adding to the replayabilty factor in the game. However, as you'd expect it has some flaws. The biggest flaw with any tech tree design in such a game is that a few wrong moves early on can take a few missions to iron out and sometimes you can't afford the time, so you have to replay earlier missions to iron out these issues. The fun is also slightly dulled by the fact that you can't really see what research will lead towards. If you know what you want to aim for then finding the prerequisite researches is a simple matter but trying to understand what a research will unlock or do for you is not easy.

The Research screen. Plenty of choices to make here
The money mechanic is handled quite well and is an enjoyable part of the game. During each mission you need to harvest crystals whilst protecting your base from the evil Titans. This is not an easy task and any money you have left after each mission gets added together with certain bonuses depending on your performance and that is carried on to your next mission. This presents problems if you've overspent in missions, not harvested enough, chosen a less effective research path etc.

As a saving grace, you are automatically thrown up onto the very hardest difficulty straight away and if you struggle, you can choose to replay the mission on the same difficulty or a lower difficulty setting. This is a great little feature which I haven't needed to use yet but I'm starting to struggle on the third planet and it's there if needed. There does not seem to be any penalty to do this other than you get a slightly less flashy medal and the achievement (soon to be a Steam achievement) will be lesser.

Interesting and informative briefings between missions help keep you clued up on the opposition
Between missions you are briefed by a rather interesting General type chap and a boffin from the laboratory who always has an interesting tale to tell. These interludes provide you with some information on the monsters you have faced or are likely to face in coming missions and to help add to the story which is unfolding around you. These are pretty basic briefing sessions but very effective and add some great humour to the mix.

Enemies vary in speed, hit points and armour ratings which means that you need to mix and match your choice of turrets, perhaps adding in cooling systems or reloader stations to assist in the culling of the Titan army. Reloading? Yes, each turret has a finite amount of ammunition which, once expended, must be reloaded (automatically or you can manually reload earlier) and this creates a little bit of a logistical and positioning nightmare when it comes to preparing for the invasion. Add in AI controlled drones, mines and barricades, as well as superpowers in the form of random drops, to the mix and you'll soon see that Revenge of the Titans gives you a plethora of options with which to keep your HQ safe.

The Survival mode in the game is pretty great. It turns the game into a slightly different animal. Playing like one of the 'they're coming at us from all sides' missions but with the added problem of randomly spawning resources and wave after wave of enemies coming at you, it ends up feeling crazy. An online leader board of the fastest times is available but there is not much chance of me getting that far. Kudos to those that do, it's a rough ride!!

Titans come at you in great numbers and not in an orderly fashion
Graphically, Revenge of the Titans isn't going to be competing with games like Crysis or even Defense Grid: The Awakening, but the art direction fits the game to a tee. It is dark and gritty, making you feel like the Titans are a terrifying and panic-inducing evil to which you are the Earth's only hope of surviving. Functional and interactive, the game looks as good as it needs to and gives enough detail to readily identify objects and Titans alike. The sound compliments this perfectly with the musical score of adding atmosphere; The terrifying roar of the massive Titans and the crunch of metal and explosions as they crush buildings, making you wonder if your defenses will hold out long enough.

Conclusion

Revenge of the Titans is unique in it's own, bringing new life to a classic genre. The aspect of reloading, harvesting crystals during the mission and the fact that monsters can destroy your carefully arranged defensive line really makes the game interesting for me. It is more intense and more hectic than other Tower Defense games and has a difficulty curve that can be curtailed if necessary.

However, the game and the mechanics that surround the money and the research may not be for everyone. It adds a certain complexity to the game and can feel similar to the experience you get when you've created a "bad build" in an MMO. Whilst Revenge of the Titans is more forgiving in this respect, it is an aspect which might turn away more casual or traditional gamers.

For me, it was certainly worth the asking price.

ElcomeSoft Score:  8.5/10 

Check out my Research Guide for Revenge of the Titans.

Check out my other previews and reviews here