Colony Defense Review

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Colony Defense Publisher: Mana Bomb Games Studio
Developer: Mana Bomb Games Studio

Platforms: PC and Xbox 360
Reviewed on PC

Windows System Requirements: 1.5 GHz Processor, 1 GB RAM, DirectX 9.0c compatible video card with 128 MB RAM, 300 MB HD space, Windows XP SP2 or more recent operating system

Defend an entire planet from the onslaught of an alien invasion in this tower-defense game set on a series of spherical planets.

Kyle Ackerman

Colony Defense distinguishes itself from the many other tower defense games by wrapping the tower-defense formula around fully spherical planets. Clearly built using Microsoft's XNA development tools, Colony Defense can be downloaded for the PC or as an Xbox Live Indie Game (even on the PC it's more easily played with an Xbox controller than with the keyboard and mouse). Despite Colony Defense so obviously being a freshman effort, it does so many things well in the tower-defense genre that it's a real pity the spherical planets that serve as the game's selling point are its biggest detractor.

As in most tower-defense games, waves of oncoming enemies follow pre-determined paths toward the player's base, while the player constructs armed towers in an effort to defend against the mindless onslaught. In Colony Defense those paths meander around spherical planets. So, unlike most tower-defense games, that means you can only see half the play area at any given moment, and not everything in that hemisphere is clear, meaning that only a fraction of the total play area is visible. So, the tactical variation that the spheres make possible is more than offset by the massive irritation of only being able to see a fraction of the play area.

The graphics in Colony Defense may be simply adequate, but the ideas behind the Colony Defense work well. The levels are well designed and balanced, with an extensive skill upgrade system that introduces considerable replayability. Completing a level grants a single point that can be used to unlock tiered skills that decrease the cost of towers, increase damage or increase the effectiveness of your special super-weapon, among other things. Completing a level without allowing a single colonist to die grants an extra skill point, and there's the real incentive for replaying levels.

The introductory levels are fairly easy, but the more advanced levels require a number of advantages purchased with skill points to complete them. Thanks to the additional skill point awarded for perfect completion, and the difficulty of doing so on later levels without sufficient upgrades, there's a reason to play through the game scraping by as best you can, and then replaying levels you completed earlier to earn that extra skill point, making it easier to complete even more, later levels, perfectly.

Colony Defense is a perfectly decent tower-defense game, but it would have been far better if it had abandoned the one gimmick that distinguishes it from the competition.

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