Star Defense

Star Defense, developed by Rough Cookie and published by Ngmoco, is a space-based 3-D tower defense game with one of the most innovative visuals ever seen for the genre. You must defend your colonists from the ravaging S’rath aliens long enough for a successful evacuation. The invading S’rath waves follow a set path on each planet, and you strategically place your defense towers beside their path before they reach the colony door.

Your weapon choice is fairly standard, featuring bullet cannons, flame-throwers, laser cannons, tesla coils, and slime cannons. Also standard are the types of enemies, where some are resistant to bullet damage, others resist fire, etc. The game is balanced enough that you will need to use all the tower types to survive the various S’rath waves.

What’s really amazing about Star Defense is the planet design and presentation. Planets are either spheres or cubes and enemy paths wind over all sides of the planets. You rotate the planet in any direction by swiping the screen. Details are a little blocky zoomed in, but since the action is so spread out, you probably won’t be using this view much. Zoomed out,  you see various space phenomena fly by in the background. This game has one of the best 3-D graphic engines on the iPhone and it really feels like you’re out in space. The soundtrack is also fantastic and fits the space-theme well. Certain tracks are tension builiding with ambient echoes and long haunting tones, while others get the heart pumping with militaristic drums and guitar. Everything just feels good about this game.

The options and extras sets for Star Defense are also good with one glaring exception: No fast forward! Although for the most part the action is already going pretty fast, a fast forward button really is a staple of quality tower-defense games. My guess is Rough Cookie couldn’t avoid slowdown during a fast forward mode so they nixed it; the graphic engine is already doing some impressive things. Options do include 3 difficulty levels, an achievements list (called commendations), and the ability  to continue “punishing the S’rath” after colonists have been evacuated to see how long you can last. Also included is a challenge mode, where you call out another player online to defeat more alien waves than you on a planet of your choice with the same settings. You can also log into Facebook or Twitter from the options screen, if you want to become the developer’s friend and/or stalk them.

Since this app is such a large download, there is some load time for each stage, about 10 seconds. Also, maybe it was just my imagination, but I’m pretty sure my battery life got eaten up noticeably faster while I was playing this game for hours. Either that or time just flies while you’re having fun. With these georgeous settings and fantastic 3-D gameplay, every self-respecting tower-defense fan should own Star Defense. I highly recommend Star Defense to any iPhone gamer.

View the comments on the forum…