Overall Score 62%
Defender - Fight for Earth
It's a little bit alarming, considering the amount of time that I spend in front of a computer screen typing, that I'm not very good at it. When I'm on a roll I can punch out a staccato 20 to 30 words per minute but often punctuation, formatting and other obstacles (such as words uncooperatively containing z, x, n or m) can conspire to drive my skill at the keyboard to almost embarrassing levels of incompetence. I was never going to be a stellar defender of the Earth in this week's review game, but I wonder just how hard it is?
The Earth sits forlornly in the centre of the screen and before long it's being attacked by projectiles coming at it from both sides. Now, I have never been able to progress much past the fifth day of the attacks, and therefore the only enemies I have seen are rockets and asteroids. They appear with words attached to them that need to be typed to destroy them. The rockets move fairly slowly but appear in great numbers. Asteroids tear in at a terrifying pace and the words attached to them are usually longer. Destroying threats earns the player points. Occasionally, an astronaut floats by that can be rescued for bonus points. “Days” are simply an arbitrary measurement of time, and act as dividers for a scaling difficulty level. It starts out at a fairly taxing pace for a casual typist like myself, but will have even the most proficient touch typists (such as my wife) sweating after just an in-game week or or so. An average game would last me around 3 to 4 minutes.
As the player progresses through the days, successful defence of the Earth is rewarded by a few powerups that can be activated with the function keys. I have seen the shield, the temporary slow down time device, and the Earth repair tool. Judging by the amount of room left on the screen, I'd say there were 3 others as well that I'm not good enough to unlock.
It's a very simple game that doesn't have any pretensions of grandeur. Type the words to kill the enemies and rescue the astronauts. Fail at defending the Earth after a few minutes. Rinse and repeat. The graphics have a cartoon style and are reasonably attractive. Sound effects compliment the gameplay nicely. DEFENDER plays in fullscreen or windowed mode. There is only one default difficulty mode. The game will keep track of your highest score, but there is no high-score table saved locally nor an internet high-score table so that you can challenge others. There are no persistent unlocks between games and little motivation to keep playing aside from attempting to better your own best score. It's a shallow and somewhat unrewarding experience.
A common theme that this game shares with many others in the tower defence genre is that there is no way for the player to actually win the game. It's more of a case of just seeing how long they can hold out before losing. Gamers want to be able to win, right? I don't like the template where time spent playing a game is simply prolonging an inevitable defeat. There's just something conceptually here that doesn't sit well with me as a gamer.
Although the game relies on typing skill as the primary weapon for the player to use as defence of the Earth, there is no integrated feature in the game for the player to measure improvement in this skill over time. Similarly there is no feature or tool included for the player to use as a training device to increase typing skill (such as touch typing drills or exercises). Either of these inclusions would have made the game a little more interesting to me.
DEFENDER – Fight for Earth is a simple game that can entertain for very short periods of time. When played in conjunction with other software or instruction to increase typing skill it might be a little more engaging than when simply played alone. For me, after the initial interest of an unusual genre died down, there just wasn't enough in this title to make me want to play it repeatedly. It's a decent execution of an idea that just hasn't been taken far enough to provide for gameplay that will keep players coming back for more.
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