REVENGE OF THE TITANS / Puppy Games / PC
I'm an old RTS vet from the Dune 2 and original Warcraft days, but I've actually never played a "tower defense" game prior to this one. I only mention that because I'm sure there's points of comparison to some of the other games that came before Revenge of the Titans, but I'm not really familiar with them. From what I've been reading on the interbutts though, I might have just spoiled the genre for myself by playing one of the best ones right off the bat.
If you're new like me, the game is somewhat like an RTS in that you have to mine resources and build defenses around a base to protect from oncoming hordes. Everything is much simpler than a RTS though, and completely focused on defense - no ground troops, no attacking of enemy bases. Each level is basically just a huge horde you have to fend off, once they've all been killed, the level is over. You basically just have to place refineries near any crystals you see on the map to suck up their goodness for your cashbox, then strategically place gun turrets to defend both them and your main base from the attackers.
The twist with Titans is that in the game's fairly lengthy campaign mode, your cash reserves roll over from one mission to the next. In between missions, you get a chance to research one new technology, usually which costs a pretty considerable chunk of cash. So you have to be as efficient and frugal as possible in your defense, otherwise by the time you get to the later stages with the more heavily armored enemies, you won't have the upgraded guns, shields and barricades you need to take them on.
The game is designed with an intentionally retro feel, and it reminded me of the kind of oddball strategy game you'd see appear on the Sega Genesis, just with much better graphics and music. Characters speak in a cute parody of Banjo Kazooie voices ("bla bla bla! bla!") and the music is this pretty good spacey rock that reminded me strongly of Metroid Metal.
The game is pretty much a blast, I've only got a couple of minor gripes with it. It might be because I'm new to tower defense, but it feels like the difficulty is out of whack in terms of the cost of researching new weapons v.s. the minimum you have to deploy to fend off the tougher waves, particularly bosses that take a ridiculous amount of hits. This could maybe be tweaked by reducing cost of research a little bit, it just seems insanely high right now. Of course, the offset is that if you lose a mission you can opt to play a less difficult version of it, but that's kind of a lame way to go. The other problem is that in campaign mode, if you replay an earlier level, it wipes out all further progress in that campaign. As of right now, even though they're selling the game at retail, it's still officialy in "not quite final" status and purchasers get access to all new builds, so I assume this will be fixed in a future build. If you're reading this past Dec. 2010 then it may have been fixed already in whatever the latest version is.
* Official Site
* These guys have chutzpah. I like this.
* Gameplay Video