A marriage of twin stick shooter and tower defense, Comet Crash melds the two popular downloadable genres with mixed results. Following their recent update, we took the defense with a touch of offense for a spin.
Towers and units, while abundant, are standard TD fare. You know the types: fast and weak, strong and slow, or enemy specialized. Tech for new units and towers is acquired as you progress through the stages providing a gentle learning curve for an otherwise overwhelming amount of resources with many levels serving as lessons in how to use the latest tech to the greatest advantage. More often than not the TD side of the game is a matter of using your towers just to survive until you can build an army large enough to make it to the enemy base with enough remaining troops to take it out. Fortunately, the towers that serve only to manufacture units take a sky’s-the-limit view on things, allowing you to amass improbable numbers.
These offensive units so integral to victory are created by towers that can be upgraded to create more advanced units. You begin with the versatile scout, which can infiltrate effectively but are susceptible to tower fire. Other units include the tank (which is slow but dishes out more damage while taking more fire) and even an airborne unit. Units, once created, are teleported to your base where they hang out until you dispatch them – which you can do at any point, and in any quantity.
Units and towers are revealed piecemeal as you progress, and each stage is essential a study in how to effectively use the tools at your disposal. With nearly 30 levels this means that by the end of the game your arsenal is incredibly deep. This complexity makes the game interesting and challenging, but it doesn’t imbue it with that addictive quality found in other tower defense titles. As always budgeting and appropriating the available space are as key to success as knowing which towers to use.
Interestingly, every level has a hint. Well, sometimes it’s more of a cheat, but in general it’s a handy reminder for those struggling that they probably need to revamp their strategy. From time to time a rather quirky level makes it into the mix, the result of the game’s offensive component and the tutorial nature of the progression. For example, early on there is a level that simply requires you to sprint a unit to the enemy base before the first wave even gets within striking distance. It’s not really tower defense. Sure, it teaches you the value of the one-way gate, but it’s not…fun.
Towers can be built just about anywhere on open ground so long as you don’t completely block the path from one base to another. This allows you to create some weaving paths, prolong the journey and maximize the damage. Friendly towers can be constructed near enemy towers to take them out, but you must quickly replace the destroyed enemy tower with one of your own or they’ll build afresh in that spot. This is were the controls can get annoying.
The vast offensive and defensive options are paired with the controls of a twin stick shooter. While fast, they’re just not much fun to use because they’re often imprecise and it’s possible to lose a round just because you couldn’t select the right tower fast enough in real time. Great for quickly sweeping around and collecting comet cash, but really annoying when trying to repair a tower before getting shot down by the surrounding enemy towers. Using the D-pad becomes key.
Currency, Thorium, and the game’s namesake are derived from comets floating over the board. Destroy them with your towers and collect the goodies, but you don’t have to wait for them to float in the right direction. By using you ships beam you can lock on and drag the within firing range. Of course, flying over enemy territory and towers comes with some risks, and while getting your ship destroyed doesn’t lose you the level it does cost you precious time.
Aesthetically, Comet Crash takes a hit. The sound is unimpressive and graphically it’s the sort of dull gray washed out look that my eyes get so darn tired of, and the tiny units are barely distinguishable from each other. Releasing a wave of Scouts and Tanks looks like something for pest control to handle rather than a gratifyingly formidable offense. Though, I surmise this teeming mass of ant attackers is the point of the underwhelming graphics: quantity over quality.
It’s true that there are better tower defense games to play, and there are better twin stick shooters to play, but there aren’t any that got thrown in a downloadable blender quite like Comet Crash. The experience is a new one for PSN, so while it’s just not as magical as the likes of PixelJunk Monsters it does offer a fresh spin – like bringing the pain to the enemy’s gate. If you fancy your tower defense with a touch of offense, Comet Crash is the right take on the genre for you.
This review based on a free copy of the game provided by the publisher.