Written by Craig Will, puffkix Wednesday, 01 June 2011 05:00
|Page 2 - Frontier Defence|
Frontier Defence, as you may have guessed by the spelling of "Defence," is not an American-developed game for the Android. Based on language options and awkward English translations it appears to be German built.
Starting the game up you will notice that there is no tutorial. If you want to learn how to play you're going to have to read the Introduction inside the Info menu. If you're reading it in English it may be hard to come away knowing exactly what to do, thanks in large part to the previously mentioned awkward English translation. It's not impossible to understand but it reads like what your elementary school sibling would write. For example, a couple lines from the intro, "Take your hero and defend your land with a couple of different tower. You have the choice. Build cannon tower, spear tower, magic tower or the legendary ultima tower." Not unintelligible, just a little... foreign.
There are 3 difficulty levels to choose from: Easy, Normal, and Heroic; and 4 maps to defend. It is not clear how many waves attack on a single map, nor is there any indication what type the next monsters will be before they start down the path. This is the part where you're glad that you have me (you'll be glad to have me a little bit later too) because I can tell you that there are 30 (or 31) waves and after completing all waves on a map the next map is unlocked.
You start the level with 140 gold, 0 crystals, and 10 lives. It plays like most other tower defense games with a couple twists: First you control a (bear?) builder with arrow keys, keep him off the path when monsters are walking there because if they touch him you lose a life and he drops all the gold you've amassed (but walking over the gold gives it back). Secondly, the most effective time to build is when the game is paused. That's right, you can move your builder around, build towers, upgrade towers, and whatever else you want to do even after you press the pause button. Speaking of the pause menu: when paused the game screen reads, "quit game?" but gives the options in German, "verlassen" and "weiterspielen." Google translator tells me that verlassen means leave while weiterspielen means play on.
Quick tangent: playing this game in German reminded me of how much fun it can be to play games in a language you don't understand. When I was a bit younger my best friend and I played an Inspector Gadget game in many different languages, including German, on the PS1 and half the time we were laughing at the other one stumbling over the words. I will always remember starting up co-op by selecting "multiplayer punkte."
Back to the monsters at hand. With no hands-on tutorial and broken English instructions to guide you the first few attempts at this game will result in frustration. How do I know how much a tower costs? What do all the different towers do? Why can't I build this tower right here? Why am I a bear? What the heck is that creature!? The last two questions don't have answers that I could find... but the others thankfully do. There is a tower guide that needs to be read as it tells about each of the towers. Do it before you start playing as it's not easy to figure out what towers are going to fit the situation you're in while in the middle of a game. ProTip: Spear Towers are super versatile and building 3 of them right off the bat is a sure fire way to destroy everything early on in the first map. In the upper right hand corner there are three numbers inside a box. The first number is how much gold you have, the second is how many crystals you possess, and the third is your remaining lives. When you select a tower to build or upgrade a second number in parenthesis pops up next to the gold (and sometimes crystals). This is how much the tower is going to cost you. Towers can be quite pricey - the spear tower, which is the first option for towers, cost 80 gold. You only start with 140 gold so you can either build one spear tower or one cannon tower, which costs 120 gold. Go with the Spear Towers. Each monster drops 5 gold in the beginning waves and you receive a small wave bonus each time you complete a wave without losing all your lives. This makes for some slow building and weak towers for a long time. On top of that the only way to get some of the higher end towers is with crystals that are dropped by rare, shielded, ridiculously difficult-to-defeat monsters. ProTip 2: When these monsters show up you need to build Cannon Towers, unless they're flying monsters; then you need to upgrade to Spear and Anti-Air Towers. Also important to remember is that you can only build a tower on a tree. Yes, you are basically required to build treeforts to destroy evil, malicious, invading monsters. It's kind of awesome if you think about it. I mean, who hasn't wanted to do that since they were a kid?
This game is brutal and unbalanced when starting out, sometimes downright unfair, with an extremely sharp learning curve that relies on trial and error each time a new monster appears. Despite all that, or perhaps because of all that, it's insanely addicting. Every time I lose I think to myself, "Well now I know what hurts that monster," or, "I have an idea for better placement of my towers," or, "Next time I won't try to fight them in hand-to-hand combat," because even with the difficulty there's a part of me that doesn't want to let a game beat me. Overall it's a pretty fun game, though not super pretty (the colors are all of the earthy tone variety) and mercilessly unforgiving, fun can be had after a few attempts. The most important thing to remember is not to give up. Keep pushing yourself for that one more time. When you finally nail it there is a complete sense of satisfaction at overcoming the odds.
7/10 - Pretty decent for another tower defense game on the phone.