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I'm not the world's biggest fan of strategy or role playing games. The last one I actually enjoyed was the original Vandal Hearts and I think I got halfway through Final Fantasy III before realizing I had better things to do, like go meet girls. I've never played World of Warcraft or Civilization. Command and Conquer was more enjoyable to me as a coaster for my drink then as a game. Tower Defense is a pleasant strategy-lite game, but it's also extremely difficult and time-consuming.

(Note from Levi: I will rectify your grievous Civ oversight.)

Monsters are on the warpath and speeding along a trail to your hometown or castle. Your job is to crush these enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of the women. You do this by building your defenses along the trail and praying they kill the monsters in time before they reach their destination.

You have numerous weapons in which to choose from. Arrows are fast and are good for both land and air enemies. Cannons are more powerful -- but are good for ground-only attacks. Air Attack is more powerful than arrows, but is for the air only. I found buying arrows and upgrading them was the most efficient way to go due to their high rate of attack. Earn enough gold (you earn an average of 5g to 14g for every monster killed, plus interest) and you can purchase research skills such as Fire, Water, and Earth. Once learned, you can purchase elemental weapons like fire towers, water towers (which are good for slowing down enemies), and earthquake towers that have a huge attack range. Lightning and Storm are "disaster towers" that can be purchased once you reach Chapter 6. They're more costly but do significant damage.

Each enemy is different, but the one constant is their hit points increase after each subsequent wave. This isn't normally a problem if you have your trail sufficiently defended with upgraded cannons, arrows etc. What is a problem is learning the next wave of enemies is immune to a certain type of attack or is a flying enemy and your ground towers are useless. Let's say you spent a lot of money purchasing flame towers and upgrading them only to find out the next enemy is immune to fire attacks. Now what do you do? You have the option of selling your towers at a reduced price and unless you have wads of cash you're going to have to sell almost everything that won't kill the next waves of enemies. It's a slow process and I wish they had included a 'Sell All?' option for each type of defensive unit because it's really time consuming having to sell off each one individually.

Money management is another enemy you have to contend with. Do you spend money upgrading your current weapons, purchasing more weapons, purchasing an interesting upgrade, or buying research items which start at 100g pieces? Then, once you have the ability to build new towers, those cost even more money. Also, if monsters happen to escape and make it to your castle or hometown, it gets damaged and is very costly to repair. It takes a lot of trial and error and patience to advance in chapters. Once you make it to chapter ten, you can unleash hell on your enemies with the purchase of the Meteor Storm. Good luck making it that far. If this game required quarters after every restart, I'd have to take out a loan.

There are ten chapters to contend with in Story Mode and each chapter has at least forty waves of enemies, with boss battles occurring at after every tenth level. The game auto-saves after every boss battle which is very annoying. Let's say your town gets destroyed on wave 18 out of 40 waves, when you continue you'll continue at level 11, not 18. So you have to go through the motions once again. I don't like it when games do this, it should start me at wave 18 and give me the option of rolling back if I choose. There were numerous times when I had to start a chapter over again from the beginning and completely change my strategy. I factored in the cost of the game compared to the hours I spent on it, and I think the game actually owes me money.

The graphics are very well done. The monsters aren't very pretty (by design, I'm sure), but everything is vibrant and nicely detailed. The absence of any sort of sound effect was disappointing but the music wasn't bad and reminded me of the old school RPG titles I never had the patience to finish.

Once you've completed a chapter in Story Mode, it's becomes available in Custom Mode where you can replay story mode maps or play custom built maps. Once you've beaten story mode, the map editor is unlocked and you can go nuts building your own stages. If you're a fan of the game, that feature alone adds a lot of replay value.

Closing Comments
Tower Defense really put my strategy game playing skills to the test. It pulverized me with its difficulty yet I had to come back for more. No way some dumb monsters are going to best this gamer. If you have the brain power and the patience, Tower Defense is one of those wireless games you can’t delete until you’ve made it pay for all the time it stole from you.
IGN Ratings for Tower Defense (Cell)
Rating Description
out of 10 Click here for ratings guide
8.0
OVERALL
Great
(out of 10)
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