Developer: Puppy Games
Revenge Of The Titans piqued our interest at last year's Eurogamer Expo when, despite only being playable on one computer, it distracted us from the likes of Killzone 3 and Gears 3 for over an hour. Sorry if you were queueing behind us, by the way. Even though it's billed as a tower defence title, we were absolutely blown away by how refreshing and solid its mechanics turned out to be - and gushed wildly about it in our hands-on preview. Much has changed since then... and we're delighted to report that it has all been for the better.
The premise is beguilingly simple and reassuringly familiar. Extraterrestrial invaders, the titular Titans, are taking over the planet - and it's up to us players to stop them in their tracks. To this end you'll need to deploy a series of turrets around a battlefield as the Titans march towards your home base, as well as refining resources from gems and fallen foes to finance your war effort. The enemies descend on your precious base station in enormous numbers, and you'll quickly need to erect a series of gun emplacements, barricades, upgrade towers and ore refineries to fend them off. So far, so solid and predictable.
However, Revenge Of The Titans is much more than just a standard tower defence title. The Titans are as unpredictable as they are menacing, and though they prefer to travel down ready-made roads, will merrily take a diversion to munch on your turrets and shred your meticulously-placed defences before your very eyes. Rather than just sitting back and proudly watching enemy waves get pulverised by massed firepower, you'll need to continually upgrade, boltster, sell and relocate your defences; identifying new choke points as they become apparent and hurrying to close avenues of attack that you hadn't considered. Turrets can't take much damage, and you'll need to stay on your toes in order to survive.
Clever identification of terrain is also an extremely important skill that you'll need to learn quickly, as the Titans prefer to travel along roads and to avoid marshes and swamps whenever they can. While the invaders excel at breaking through (or just ignoring) choke points, it's soon possible to work out the best places to create killzones and fire traps.
In fact, the action plays out like a tense real time strategy game. As well as agressively responding to enemy incursions, players need to keep an eye on their turrets' ammo reserves. Emplacements have to undergo a lengthy reloading process once they run out, but can be reloaded manually by clicking on them during lulls in enemy waves.You'll also be able to collect sporadic powerups that occasionally appear on the play field for a few seconds. The resource collection mechanics, whilst basic, add an extra element of strategy into the mix - though we're very glad that Puppy Games have removed the need to manually empty refinery silos (which would have led to an unbearably stressful experience).
There's nothing quite like it.
Completing each level rewards players with medals and persistent money that can be spent in the next stage, but an sprawling tech tree also allows savvy commanders to upgrade their technology between missions. New (and better) turrets, add-on modules that can improve nearby structures and new blockades can all be researched - as well as more oblique concepts that can unlock the top tier firepower over time. It's an incredibly deep and immersive mechanic that allows players to invest in their growing defensive capability, but at the risk of sounding a little ungrateful, there are arguably too many options to choose from. Some upgrades are plain better than others, and failing to choose them early on can lead to frustrating weakness in the mid-to-late game. Luckily you receive upgrade points simply by completing levels rather than having to spend your hard-earned persistent credits - another much appreciated change from the preview build. Regardless, we still feel that less would have been more in this case.
Ooh, while we're on the subject of frustration, it's time to grasp the nettle and face the issue head on. Revenge Of The Titans takes no prisoners and quickly becomes extremely difficult. Strategy fans (especially those who also enjoy tower defence titles) will likely relish the challenge that Puppy Games have lined up, but be aware that it poses a seriously gnarly learning curve that rewards patience and punishes those who don't pay rapt attention. Thankfully it's possible to reduce the difficulty if you absolutely need to - though it will cost you a medal as well as your pride.
Puppy Games are famed for their eyecatching visual style that blends classic retro pixel art with slick, modern bells and whistles. Revenge Of The Titans is easily their most impressive effort yet, since it boasts gloriously crisp graphics and characters that are both charming and gritty at the same time. The sprites (especially the Titans themselves) are detailed yet reassuringly clunky and chunky; bringing back memories of yesteryear's 8-Bit videogame nasties. There's no doubt that it lacks punch compared to the likes of Defence Grid, StarCraft II and other strategy outings - but we're absolute suckers for faux-retro art styles here at Dealspwn. A good sense of humour underpins the core of the game - and even though the action is all business, you'll frequently crack a smile at the witty writing and descriptions.
- Half tower defence, half RTS, all awesome
- Loads of missions, upgrades and content
- Stellar art style and graphics
- Punishing difficulty and learning curve
- Impenetrable and fickle tech tree
- Nu-Retro visuals might deter shallow idiots some gamers
The Short Version: Tower Defence is dead. Long live Revenge Of The Titans. By blending traditional TD with tense RTS mechanics, Puppy Games have managed to provide the best of both worlds.
If you're a glutton for sprites and punishment, that is.