Game Reviews

Act of War: Urban Defense

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Act of War: Urban Defense

Urban warfare is a messy business.

Attempting to outsmart your enemy is hard enough when you’ve got the freedom of a battlefield, but when space is limited and you’re forced to skulk behind buildings and rubble, things become even more brutal.

It’s this particular brand of conflict that Act of War: Urban Defense tries to glorify. Amid the tremendously crowded tower defence genre, the game finds itself in a similarly disordered position, unable to break free of the limitations of its type.

City hunter

Taking place across ten different urban settings, Act of War deviates little from the near-exhausted tower defence blueprint. Enemies flood in from pre-defined entry points and take the quickest route to your vulnerable headquarters.

Your job is to lay down defences which fill enemy units with hot lead. Strangely, none of your opponent’s forces is capable of returning fire, despite taking the form of monstrous tanks bristling with weaponry.

The game’s sole unique selling point is the muddled and often confusing nature of its environments. The urban sprawl provides many different paths to your base, and mastering your surroundings is part of the challenge.

Funnel fun

A good tower defence player knows that you need to funnel your enemy along the longest possible route to your base to ensure you get the maximum amount of time to destroy them. In Act of War it’s satisfying reading the map and devising a defensive plan, blocking off certain entry points and forcing enemies down specific roads.

Speaking of which, the streets offer a good indication of potential routes, but units are also capable of trundling across grass and fields. To add a little spice there are also aerial enemies which are of course not bound by the limitations of their land-based brethren.

There are ten defensive towers available from the word 'go' - a questionable move as it harms longevity. It would have made more sense to drip-feed each tower as the levels progressed, giving you something new to experience on each stage.

It’s also daunting to have access to all of these towers right from the start: it’s a good job the initial tutorial is re-watchable because you’re likely to find it a little overwhelming.

Stealthily does it

Despite its lack of originality and questionable pacing, Act of War still manages to entertain. There are unique challenges to face in some of the later stages.

For example, enemy units that use stealth technology are capable of driving straight past your towers without rebuke and can only be targeted by constructing a special radar tower which allows your units to see through the trickery.

Beyond that, the game’s lifespan is painfully limited. Despite the presence of unlockable achievements – as well as OpenFeint and Game Center support - it’s unlikely that you’re going to want to return after conquering the available environments.

Ultimately, Act of War doesn’t do enough to distinguish itself amid the flood of similar titles already available on iPhone and iPad, although hardened tower defence veterans will find it enjoyable while it lasts.

Act of War: Urban Defense

An urban setting gives Act of War: Urban Defense appeal, but its lack of originality and short length ensure that it quickly gets lost in the fog of war