I’m a sucker for tower defense games. I mean, who doesn’t like watching waves upon waves of creeps meet their inevitable doom passing through a maze of your carefully orchestrated death traps? Today, I’m looking at Radiant Defense, a tower defense game for the BlackBerry PlayBook by the gaming wizardry of the folks over at Hexage. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
Hordes of deadly alien creeps are attempting to invade Earth! Oh no! In order to protect the human race, you must destroy all the aliens coming out of the invasion vortex who head directly for the blazing hot spiral reactor. Even though they’ll burn up and disintegrate in the reactor, if the reactor goes out, there will be no way to close the invasion vortex and then its game over. Why not just keep them all closed?
Well, there’s an incredibly persistent (and borderline hilarious) “Supercreep” bent on taking over who tends to opened up invasion vortices and flooding them with creeps. This is a creep who loves to be bad, and it fairly bad at being bad. And you can’t help but laugh at his trash talk and futile and immature attempts at psychological mind games.
With the help of a commander and “doc” to guide you, it’s up to you to save the world!
This is a pure tower defence strategy game, complete with customizable paths and a varied array of weapons which hold advantages and disadvantages against certain enemies and scenarios.
At the beginning of a mission, you’re given some blocks called “modules”. Using modules, you can create detours for the creeps. You may be supplied with only one or perhaps many.
By killing creeps, you get money. By finishing the level, you get an additional 10% of your total money (up to 50$). Providing some incentive to keep a stash of cash handy and play efficiently.
You also get a score. This score depends heavily on your total money after each wave. If you’re ridiculously good at this game, you may be able to see your score in the Hall of Fame. Clearly, my name isn’t on the list.
If you do happen to let a few enemies touch the reactor, its no big deal. The reactor can typically take 10-20 enemies before showing you the “game over” screen. If you know you’re not going to survive the wave, you can retry the wave as many times as you like.
Don’t confused this as a sign of an easy game. You can definitely come to a point where you will lose no matter what you do and be forced to retry the entire mission. Your strategy and positioning from previous waves is crucial in ensuring you are in good position to survive the next.
The key information is located at the top of the screen: your score, number of available modules to place, how many creeps you can let through, and have many more waves to go in the mission. There are 11 mission in total, with anywhere from 8 to over 50 waves per mission. You also a star rating, ranging from 1-3 stars depending on how well you completed the mission. I made it a point to get three stars on all levels, and it was challenging.
There is typically a huge, ridiculously-hard-to-kill boss creep during the last wave. Be prepared to have enough firepower to kill it, because it isn’t always a walk in the park.
Strategy cannot be underestimated in this game. Without it, you will never come close to beating the game. There is very, very little luck involved. Which is what I like. While the game starts out fairly easy, it does get progressively harder. You will undoubtedly have to revise your strategy to account for things you have overlooked, or when situations change. While I have definitely struggled on a few levels at the beginning, I have found that clever use and stacking of the more advanced weapons is the key.
Once I have beaten the game, I did find the levels too easy and longed for a “Hard Mode” where the defense strategies I developed can be improved further.
Unlike most tower defense games, Radiant Defense kicks it up a notch in the weaponry department. The array—no, the arsenal of weapons at your disposal is outright diabolical and ungodly. From the Pandora Biocid Dispenser, to the Judgment Day Gauss Gun, I’ve found myself revelling in my evil laughter upon the very thought of using them.
With money, you can buy weapons and other structures designed for maximum creep-annihilation. Without buying any of the in-game upgrades, you’ve got three main weapons:
Beliah Gun Turrent
Solaris Disruptor Laser
The gun turret is your bread-and-butter creep destruction tool of choice. The cannon is a slow, but powerful gun. The laser is a precise weapon, ideal for those fast enemies.
While these weapons are useful and sufficient for the beginning of the game. You’ll soon feel longing for some deadlier weapons. Luckily, after saving up $200 and buying a research unit solves this problem. You can then deploy:
Pandora Biocid Dispenser: a poisionous gas gun
Stormguard Tesla array: an electric shock generator
Tachyon Warp Generator: slows down your enemies
Judgement Ray Gauss Gun: fires a super-strong laser pulse
Neutron Core Megablast: damages all enemies on the screen
With weapons like these, getting a research unit in later missions is pretty much a necessity.
Hexage cleverly implements in-game expansion packs that give you access to the more exotic and cruel weapons for a more complex strategy. Each costs 99 cents.
There are four expansion packs:
Burning Pack: Flamethrowers and Searchlights
Science Pack: Omega cannon and Power Blades
Explosive Pack: Seraphim Missiles and Mines
Xenobiology Pack: Psionic Terrorshock and Recuperators
As recuperators and searchlights can drastically improve your game, I don’t know if I could have beaten the game without them. Since this game is free, buying these expansions seems almost a no-brainer.
If you manage to beat the entire game without these expansion packs, I salute you. This game can get hard without these advanced weapons.
The three special rechargable weapons (Psionic Terrorshock, Omega Cannon, and Neutron Core Megablast) provide some real-time gameplay to the mix. You can use these weapons during the level when they are charged. They can be extremely useful at times, yet remain a very expensive initial purchase.
The enemies are as varied as you can imagine. From regenerating space slugs, to psychic creeps with anti-kinetic forceshields. After you’ve played this game, you’ve seen it all. The in-game descriptions of the enemies may reveal their weaknesses and strengths to certain weapons.
While you start off fighting against seemingly harmless aliens, more and more strange-looking aliens emerge in later mission. Some are armored, some are fast. Some regenerate and some come by the hundreds. You may fight only three extremely powerful aliens in one wave, or face swarms of hundreds of minion aliens.
Some enemies can wiggle around and move fast, making it more difficult to hit some of them. As soon as they exit the invasion vortex, they’re cannon fodder. Having the perfect combination of weapons makes all the difference.
What’s neat is that as you progress in the game, you’ll start seeing more and more enemies on the main menu screen. With each 100,000 points, another enemies appears and can “dance” on the screen. This is a charming addition that you’ll have fun with as you try to populate it as much as possible.
Like most Hexage game, the graphics are top-notch. Despite the simplicity of their games, the graphics are rich in detail, fully-animated, and follow a dark futuristic space theme, complete with supersaturated colors and heavy contrast. Each monster glows with a presence, foreshadowing the extraterrestrial evil within. The glowing explosions and fiery embers of the weapons burn brightly in truly arcade fashion. Running on the spacey all-black-everything PlayBook, the graphics were almost designed for it.
The weapons are all distinctly unique. The animations are smooth and very responsive. There is actually nothing to complain about here. Radiant Defense is extremely polished, as with all Hexage’s games. This does come at a cost though. While running the game, the PlayBook will heat up and battery usage will be quite high. This is especially true with a 4G PlayBook, which has a smaller battery. I don’t think the battery would last three hours with this game running.
The modern, minimalist design is carried out throughout the game. Each object has a 3D looks, providing some real depth to the playing field. The contrast on the object icons on the bottom bar is well done, making it easy to distinguish each deadly gun or tool.
The soundtrack of the game resembles trace-y futuristic elevator music. It’s good but gets annoying pretty quick. I end up just turning it off. I find it helps me think. With the awesome speakers on the PlayBook, this game’s music sounds pretty good though. The only problem with the music is that it’s not epic at all. Remember the music on StarCraft? Yeah, its not that epic. But then again, this game ( and probably ever other game) isn’t as epic as StarCraft.
The sound effects are decent and don’t take anything away from the game. That’s a good thing though. You don’t want annoying sound effects. They have to be subtle and realistic. You can also control the sound effect levels from the options menu.
When I first started playing this game, I was addicted. Hook, line and sinker. Despite loving most tower defense games, this remains my favourite out of all of them. The enemies are unique. The graphics are stunning for 2D game. The weapons are sinister. The Supercreep is evil in his intentions, yet human in his amateur ways. The animations are polished. The strategy is complex. The game is hours and hours of fun, and fulfilling to those who strive on turn-by-turn strategies with each wave of enemies.
In short, this is my favorite game on the PlayBook at the moment. Angry birds, shmangry birds. Hexage has a very compelling tower defense game that is almost impossible to dislike. The in-game purchases and expansion packs are ingenious additions. Not only are they decent value, but this strategy definitely allows you to try out the game for free. After reviewing it, I have no doubt that many that play it will feel the need to buy the expansion packs; not only because it feels good to support developers, but because it is actually worth the money.