Tower defence gets highly offensive
Of all the gaming trends that have come to prominence in the last two years, tower defence is arguably the most surprising and certainly one of the most ubiquitous. From simple Flash games such as Desktop Tower Defence to beautifully-presented console titles such as Pixeljunk Monsters and the lengthily-titled South Park effort, all manner of games asked you to deploy increasing numbers of towers in order to stop incoming waves of bad guys from eating your babies/castle/lunch.
With the genre now so heavily represented, it is often very difficult to tell different titles apart, at least in terms of their core mechanics. Trying to put its own novel spin on the idea is Comet Crash, which attempts to break the mould by letting you fight back. Most tower defence games - as the genre's name would suggest - are all defence and no offence, requiring you to simply protect your base from whatever appears on screen. Comet Crash changes up the formula by giving the enemy a base too, which you must destroy in order to progress.
The enemy's base spawns a never-ending series of units, requiring you to defend your own base by constructing a cunning arrangement of towers which blast away at anything that comes close. Different types of unit are more easily destroyed by different types of tower; there's nothing especially surprising here. Having said that, the game really comes into its own when you start to build up your own armies and send them trundling towards your foe. You accomplish this by building non-offensive towers which steadily generate units, of which there are eight types. Units are added to your stockpile and unleashed on your enemy with the right analogue stick, in what is an initially confusing but nevertheless sensible manner.
While doing this, Comet Crash requires you to maintain a constant balance between offence and defence, which is the key to playing the game well and is immensely enjoyable. Spend too long building a defensive maze of towers and your comparatively feeble armies will have no chance of succeeding. Spend too long building up your forces and the enemy will easily break through your defences, bringing the battle to a swift end.
As you might expect, the game introduces the various concepts and strategies available to you with a series of campaign missions. These are largely well thought out and can also be tackled with a friend in co-op, which is great fun. Also in multiplayer, you can also fight up to three friends locally in a battle to the death (there's currently no online component, unfortunately). This proves to be a frantic and often hilarious way of playing the game, as you scrabble for common resources and launch snide assaults on your friends' towers by surrounding them with your own.
The presentation of the title is functional but hardly awe-inspiring. There's generally a lot going on on-screen, especially in the later stages of battle, but thankfully the game does a good job of keeping everything clear. It certainly benefits from a large HDTV though, as small details such as individual towers' upgrade levels can be hard to make out at the best of times. This is certainly one area where a more vibrant design ethic may have helped.
Overall, it's easy to recommend Comet Crash. It has enough originality to make it stand out from the masses of TD games out there, and the wealth of play modes will sustain your interest for quite some time. The learning curve is a little steep, but put in the effort and you'll be rewarded with a surprising level of depth for such a cheap game. If you're a fan of tower defence games, or of the RTS genre in general, then Comet Crash should certainly be near the top of your list.