Overall Score 93%
Defense Zone 2 HD for iOS
Enemy forces are moving in. Between us and them is a small area of no man's land. We know the routes the enemy must take. With our resources stretched, you must place our defenses where they can do the most good. We have a range of turrets to choose from and they can be further upgraded - use them to stop the enemy getting through over a series of waves. Welcome to the Defense Zone.
Defense Zone 2 HD (presumably a sequel to the original Defense Zone) is a straightforward tower defense game in which you place a variety of turrets on the map to destroy the approaching enemy forces. Different turrets have different attacking styles, from the cheap and simple minigun turrets to more powerful lasers, rockets and electrical turrets, and more "special" support such as mortars, the Tornado launcher (neat!) and the liquid nitrogen sprayer (to slow down the troops). Turrets can only be placed in key areas of each map and have limited range, but you can increase both range and power by upgrading them. And if things get particularly hairy, you can call in an airstrike.
This is not the first tower defense game I've reviewed for Bytten, though it is the first for the iPhone/iPad, and I have to admit that I've taken quite a liking to it. Since I'm using the iPhone version I'm stuck with a smaller screen - however, this isn't really much of a disadvantage. The playing field is scrollable and zoomable, allowing more careful placement of defense turrets, and you can see the area of effect for any existing turret simply by tapping on it. There's little risk of planting a turret accidentally, as you need to "drag" one from the selection bar at the foot of the screen to the play area and the firing range is shown as you are placing it. Each turret has options to upgrade, view details, sell or choose the targeting method - nearest, strongest or weakest enemy. Upgraded turrets can also use "Hellfire" mode every so often, massively increasing their rate of fire and damage for a short period. Use it wisely!
Controls also feature a pause option and a "fast forward" that doubles the game speed (ideal for speeding up the last stragglers of a wave). Enemy waves are separated by about ten seconds, but you can trigger the next wave manually if you wish - you also have as long as you need to set up your initial defenses before pressing the same button. One nice touch is the way, on starting a mission, the routes taken by the enemy are highlighted - footprints for ground forces, flightpaths for airstrikes.
I'm very pleased with the graphics. The HD in the game title has clearly been well acted on, with the backgrounds and details all very clean and clear - though there is an option to turn HD mode off if you wish to. I've seen a number of tower defense games use a more abstract style - Defense Zone 2 has no truck with that, preferring to use real tanks, soldiers and so on - though the walker units (think ED-209 from "Robocop" or those miniature AT-ATs in "Return of the Jedi") are a touch outside of today's military. Still, so are Tesla coils and lasers! Each mission has its own graphical style, ranging from jungle to arctic... or my favourite so far, a set of walkways around a helipad (mission 5).
Sound comprises both music and effects, which can be individually switched on/off. I found the music, while suitably warlike, can be drowned out by explosions when the screen gets busy! As well as the typical bangs and booms, the different turrets all make their own firing sounds and there's a sexy female computer voice announcing whenever a turret is built or updated, or the airstrike ready for deployment.
When I first installed Defense Zone 2 HD, it came with 20 missions, each of which has three difficulty levels. Since then I've already received an update boosting this to 22 missions. No doubt there will be more to come! Missions are locked to begin with, and you unlock them by completing the previous mission (on any difficulty). Earlier missions limit the turrets available to you. Some missions have enemy airstrikes, which need rockets or lasers to shoot them down. Plan ahead!
The modular style of play works well for the iPhone. A mission can last about 7-15 minutes, meaning you can easily fit one into a lunchbreak. You can also replay any mission as often as you like, perhaps to beat your score or time, and the multiple difficulty levels can make an older map a challenge all over again. Completed missions are marked with medals - silver for completing, gold for completing without losing any health... you can do that, right? Just one more go. Your strategy nearly worked last time...
I think Defense Zone 2 HD is likely to stay on my iPhone for a long time, and whether you're new to tower defense games or an old hand, I can imagine it enjoying a long stay on yours. Get building! The next wave is about to start...
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