TriDefense in Review – They’re coming at you from all directions!

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Hola folks! As I wrote in a recent review of Dead Panic, the Tower Defence genre is in serious need of fresh blood, and nobody seems to know the direction to go. One of the most promising directions is “open maps” where the enemies come at you from all directions and you decide where to build your towers stop them. I think the first really good game that featured this type of game-play was the legendary Fieldrunners. Well, TriDefense follows the same general idea but features modifiable terrain and land, air and water(!) based enemies. So, let’s dissect it (I’m out for blood!) and see whether it as good as it sounds.

Ok, if you’re reading this review, you probably have at least a general idea about the Tower Defence genre. So what makes TriDefense different? Well, it is not. It is more of the same gameplay, but has a few interesting twists.

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Let’s start with the much advertised modifiable terrain feature. It basically means that you can build water canals on the ground or build towers on water. While at first it may seem that it is basically the same as walling off paths with cheap towers (i.e. as we did in Fieldrunners) or some kind of wall segments (i.e. sandbags in Battlefield) it’s not. You quickly find that out when enemies start coming at you via the maze of water canals you just built to protect yourself from ground troops. And, let’s not forget the aerial ones which can sneak by ignoring all of your cleverly built defences. It is an interesting concept to quite fun to play around with once you get the hang of it.

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The other feature worthy of noting is that the points on the edge of map where the enemies originate are not marked in ANY way whatsoever and you have to rely either on good directional sense of sound if you’re playing in headphones, or just on your eyes to see the enemies as soon as they start coming at you and correct your defences however required. For me, this was more of a downside since I rarely play the games with music or sound and not knowing where the enemies are going to arrive was just very frustrating.

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The assortment of towers, while small at first glance, is actually quite decent since each of the 3 usual types (machine gun, rocket launcher and freeze) has 2 upgrade paths with 2 levels in each path making. So, for example, you could upgrade the freeze tower to have area effect but smaller range or single target and greater range. Also, some towers have minimum as well as maximum ranges so that rocket towers can’t shoot enemies next to them. Tower construction and upgrades are not instantaneous, rather building processes take a few seconds. Overall, tower assortment is on par with most of the other games, though it should be higher and, as I understand, will be as further updates are released.

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The enemies are an assortment of robot-like units and, as noted above, come in 3 flavours: land, aerial and marine. There seems to be about 3 types of each including a super-tough boss unit for each flavour. However, since they look pretty much the same and are the same dark grey colour, you need to go to max zoom to see any real difference which is also very frustrating.

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The overall interface is spartan. To confirm a tower placement, you have to tap a place on the map, choose the tower and place the item again. The real game-breaker in my opinion is the inability to position or add upgrades to towers while pausing – that and the droves of unknown marching enemies who come from… somewhere. There is no hint or confirmation when upgrading which a bit frustrating since you can’t double check the radius of the tower attack BEFORE you hit the upgrade button. The framerate also is not so good on my iPhone 3G which lags when there are a lot of units/towers on screen. To get decent playing speed, I almost always have to reboot my phone before starting up TriDefense. A speed adjustment button would also be nice along with a pause button which could help players catch their breaths.

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In the end, I would like to note that this is still version 0.9.3 (prerelease in the AppStore?) and I did sometimes feel like a beta-tester. On the other hand, there really are some good ideas in this game and I really feel it could become one of the elite among Tower Defenders if the developer as polish to the primer. And while it is still pre-release, if you’re a fan of the genre you can get it at 0.99$ since the price should go up once the 1.0 is approved. All things considered, I declare TriDefense officially touched. Cheers and this was the last of my vacation cycle articles.

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App Summary
Title:TriDefense (V 0.9.3)Developer:Kalio LTD
Price:$1.99App Size:10.4 MB
  • Ground, Air and Water enemies
  • Modifiable terrain
  • Multiple path tower upgrades
  • Hard to distinguish enemies
  • Can’t build while pausing
  • No enemy entry indication
  • Low framerate
  • Only 3 base towers

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