Tower Defense: Clone Wars

by Tsfreaks
Tower Defense: Clone Wars
Tower Defense Game
Keywords: review
Since the introduction of Castle (or maybe earlier), Tower Defense clones have been popping up all over the place on BYOND. If you couldn't tell by the obvious pun in the name, Tower Defense: Clone Wars by tsfreaks is, you guessed it, another Tower Defense clone.

So now that we all know what to expect, lets break it down and see what this game is really made of.

Tower Defense: Clone Wars starts off with a lot of options. You have a wide open area in which to build, and its up to you to create an elaborate maze of defenses that will keep the enemies occupied long enough for your towers to turn them into confetti. There are six different tower classes to choose from, and then there's walls, which any sensible player will be building their towers on top of.

Its good for a start, and it remains fun until you've filled the entire map and your maze is complete. Beyond that, though, all that remains to do is upgrade towers and repair damage where it happens. Upgrading towers is a simple process of determining which towers are going to get the most use, and pumping extra cash into them.

You'll also realize that some tower classes seem to be doing most of the work, while the others seem to be sitting around wasting space. Why bother building those other towers you may ask? Its when your endless rows of Guard Towers aren't destroying everything quite as effectively as you'd like, in spite of their seemingly unbalanced nature, that you'll notice that each enemy can have a resistance to certain tower classes. So its a good idea to have some variety in what you build, otherwise you'll obliterate most enemies while others meander on through without a care in the world. The trouble is that you can never seem to build enough of every tower class to stop everything, so you might as well stick with the tower class that stops most things.

As far as difficulty goes, the game comes in three levels, so its really up to you whether you want the little monsters to put up a fight or not. If you play on the easiest level, you've got a fair chance at winning even if you're not a Tower Defense veteran. Anything harder and you'll probably lose, simply because the enemies don't like to die at that point no matter how many towers are thrown at them.

The controls work well enough to get the job done, and if you pay attention while you're reading the manual you'll realize that there are some shortcuts that you can use for upgrades and repairs, which helps a lot when the enemies start flowing. But there are some clunky issues with the controls that bear mentioning. The first is that when you're trying to select a tower, sometimes you end up selecting the wrong tower. The edges of the tower selection icons are all black, so you can't tell where one icon ends and another begins. Make sure you pay attention to which one you've selected before you start building them en masse.

There's also the issue of monster lag. The more monsters, the more the game lags, probably due to the game's pathfinding AI running constantly, so the more monsters there are, the slower everything gets. The trouble is, that slowness is reflected in the interface and, although you may have clicked to upgrade or repair a tower, the tower won't acknowledge that until a few seconds later. Same goes for tower construction. Hopefully some of these issues will be resolved in future updates.

The visuals are simple but reasonably well done. Nothing too glitzy, but at least they're original artwork! Most of the graphics consist of towers with rotating turrets, or mutant clone-things that face whichever direction they're walking. There's not a whole lot of animation beyond projectiles impacting their targets and the occasional exploding creature.

There are visual cues to show when towers are being repaired or upgraded, as well as little dots to indicate the level of each tower. Still, it would be nice if every tower had unique graphics for each level.

Unlike many BYOND works, this game plenty of sound effects and music. Everything from building sounds to bullets flying, monsters appearing and the dreaded "boss" grumble. There are also occasion bits of "old movie" style commentary to spice things up.

Although as stated earlier the game comes with three different difficulty modes and an open sandbox for building your clone-shredding tower maze of death, in the end you'll likely find that once you have an effective tower arrangement, its hard to beat and you'll want to keep reusing it over and over. And since the enemies always come in the same pattern, everything is predictable.

The meat of this game's replayability comes from its high score table, where you can compete with other players across the world for the best scores. Sure, you've got an effective arrangement and you know how to win every time on the impossibly difficult hard mode. So how did that other guy manage to blow away your high score? He must know some trick that you don't, so now you'll have to hunker down and work on a strategy that outscores his, so you can reclaim that championship throne. Either that, or he cheated somehow.


In the end, if you like spending your time upgrading towers and fighting off the same waves of enemies time after time, all the while struggling to come up with new ways to kill critters more efficiently, then you'll feel right at home with this game. But if you're looking for graphical splendor or deep game mechanics, then you should look elsewhere. Aside from the slowness that happens when the map gets full, and the general imbalance that the game currently displays, it seems to be a fairly solid tower defense game, if not a bit simplistic. Its still fun in the beginning, if not so much later on - but that's what the promise of high scores is for.

Well, it's long, but it seems interesting...
I can't help but wonder if the inspiration for this game is Xenotactics.
Vermolius wrote:
I can't help but wonder if the inspiration for this game is Xenotactics.

While I got a lot of inspiration from a lot of different games, this was not one of them. :) Today was the first time I've ever seen it. 'Desktop Tower Defense' is the leader of the pack as far as I know.
Now this is a review. Thank you!
Uncanny similarity nonetheless.
Thank you for taking the time to review the game. I wasn't expecting anyone to review it so soon. :)

I don't want to come across as being defensive so I'll resist the urge to comment on every little thing. A quick note on the big ticket items should do.

There has been a ton of wonderful feedback from other folks so I've been able to work 'in' a lot of improvements while working 'out' a lot of bugs during a mostly quiet beta release.

Performance is of course on the top of the todo list.

The perf issues have been a combination of things. The first was my extensive use of icon based text output. I've recently switched over to using interface labels and the perf improved significantly.

The second is in fact the path finding. The primary issue is when 50+ mobs try to update their paths at the exact same time. I do stager the updates but it's not enough. I intend to work on this next.

As for the balance, it's in there but it's just difficult for players to comprehend because I provide no information about the critters just yet. This has been a top feature request and is next after the perf work.

One of the big things that will be on my mind after the perf push is how to make the game more strategic. I'm open to suggestions. The forum page linked off the hub is open and everyone is welcome to submit any kind of feedback.

One of the big things missing is multiple entrances and exits. The addition of which would increase both the strategic possibilities and the difficulty.

Thanks again.