Tower Defense: Wrath of Gods

We've all been wowed by some massive structure that's sprung up in our local city centre. There's just something so strangely appealing about an enormous building, particularly those lofty skyscrapers, thanks to their insistence on changing the landscape you once knew, forever.

Back in 'ye olde' times, these structures weren't built to house a multitude of different brands of lawyers, a handful of internet start-up companies, and other, similarly wealthy buggers who can afford to splash out (pun intended) on a huge swimming pool on the roof.

Nope, back then it was all about aerial defence. Finding yourself a good 20 metres above the battlefield offers a significant advantage over the poor folk scrambling around on the ground. Particularly when you're packing a huge bundle of arrows, and standard-issue pots of boiling oil to drop down on their evil behinds.

Tower Defense harks back to those simple times, when bloody battle occupied almost every field. Based on the much-loved web game of the same name, it tasks you with building towers and traps to keep your citizens safe from the oncoming hordes of beastly monsters eager to cause no end of destruction and death.

Each of the game's 50 levels is set out in much the same manner. Your town is located at one end of the map and a cave containing all manner of gruesome evil beasties at the other. Your opponents eventually burst into life and traverse the gameworld along a pathway, getting ever closer to your defenceless city.

Prior to these hordes spewing forth, you're given some time to build copious amounts of the eponymous towers, and smaller path-based traps to keep them all at bay. The time limits are tight, so make sure you don't waste precious seconds admiring the view and get down to some hardcore defence building instead.

There are numerous brands of both tower and trap to choose from, each upgradeable by a handful of levels, and with many more waiting to be unlocked the further you progress through the game. Often, you'll find yourself pondering whether to upgrade your current defences, or simply purchase a brand new tower and a few extra early level traps to keep your side on top.

Making the wrong decision isn't fatal, because in effect errors can be fixed – all defences can be flogged on for an extra bit of cash in order to avoid having money tied up in useless items. This proves particularly helpful when, say, you realise that your towers are focussed entirely on ground assaults, and are therefore ineffective against flying enemies.

In terms of how the game plays, there are no major differences between this and the huge number of online versions that currently populate the world wide web. But in addition to the extra levels and the new varieties of defences available here, there's a bundled story to peruse as a way of enticing players towards the ultimate prize of finishing the game in its entirety. Mind you, it's standard fantasy fare, and getting the lowdown on the events via shallow text entries isn't exactly enough to keep you progressing through the levels.

The game's addictive qualities, on the other hand, will.

We should also mention that, visually, Tower Defense raises the standard of 2D strategy. The colourful aesthetics on offer are both detailed and imposing, and certainly welcome.

But when a game plays as well as this, even graphical treats take a second row seat. The context sensitive onscreen icon that you move around the map is prompted into action solely by the '5' button, enabling you to keep your focus on the defence placement, rather than worry about handling some complex control method.

This also helps ensure Tower Defense is a fast-paced title, as well as one that encourages players to dip in and out at will. And you'll inevitably dip back in – the title's excellent addictive nature guarantees you'll be eager to return just moments after you've left. Which is always the sign of a towering game experience.

Tower Defense: Wrath of Gods

It might not re-invent the wheel, but why change what's so close to strategy gaming nirvana?