Starfall HD
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| Starfall HD

The worst thing about the tower defence genre isn’t so much the saturation (although that is an issue), but that nearly all the titles are exactly the same to play.

While it's not always important for a game to be innovative, in an over-subscribed genre like tower defence it’s vital that a game offers something fresh in order to stand out from the crowd.

Starfall HD has the turrets and the windy corridors of death favoured by its peers, but it does at least try to break away by offering up a few original concepts of its own, even if it stumbles in the process.

Trendsetter

You start with a headquarters possessing 20 hit points. Every few seconds, waves of enemies descend on your base. Your aim is to buy turrets that slow them down and kill them. Each wave gets stronger, which naturally make upgrading and expanding the defences key to success.

Where Starfall HD makes its first move away from this simple formula is that most of the buildings are locked from the start. Over the course of the long 20-mission campaign you're awarded research credits based on mission performance.

Spending these on extra turrets, modes, maps, upgrades, and sub-systems is as absorbing as a good upgrade system should be. Each purchase is a heartbreaking decision since there's so much to unlock and so few points earned.

Crafty tactics

Another interesting element to Starfall HD is the use of power stations to keep turrets firing. These non-aggressive buildings charge automatically, but become overstretched if nearby turrets fire too frequently.

This can be tempered through judicious use of upgrades - up to five levels for most buildings - and other support buildings like the research and development lab. There are always extra tactical considerations to bear in mind while playing.

It would have been easier to apply these tactics if the game was better at visually communicating key features. In other words, the graphics are too bland to effectively communicate unit function, strengths, and weaknesses.

The enemy ships each have their own weakness to a certain type of firepower, but this only really becomes apparent on the hard difficulty level. Much of the problem boils down to graphics that are too samey to pick out specific units from a crowd.

Star power outage

Other than the sudden power shortage that kicks in around the halfway point, Starfall HD rarely surprises.

The maps are lifeless grey masses with no tricks or special sections to differentiate them, and the three extra modes - Skirmish, Sudden Death, and Sandbox - are merely minor variations on what the campaign offers and won’t hold interest for long once all the upgrades are bought.

Then there are rather nasty bugs that put a damper on things, including one that effectively prevents you from completing a level by making it impossible to place units.

While Starfall HD is engaging at first and throws a few interesting concepts down, it doesn’t do enough to stand out from the mass of similar titles.

Starfall HD

An excellent upgrade system will keep you playing, but strip that away and Starfall HD reveals itself as a run-of-the-mill tower defence game
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