ARDefender in Review – Nibbling at the borders of reality

Augmented reality applications debuted almost a year ago, shortly after the iOS 3.1 update went live. Designed only for the 3GS and above, they brought the world as the futurists envisioned one step closer to reality. The apps themselves, however, still have a long way to go. We saw a few augmented reality navigation apps and several shooting range games, though that’s about it. Until now that is! An indie developer known as int13 has recently released ARDefender – a full blown castle defence style title using augmented reality technology.

ARDefender is a top-down castle-defence style shooting game. There’s nothing as fancy as a story to speak of here but the presentation more than makes up for it. So, instead of going through the mythical explanation of why we’re the good guys and they’re the bad guys, the first thing you’ll have to do after installing the game is to print and cut out a special pad from a pdf file, which is available from the developer’s website.

Having done so just put it on a flat surface and point your iPhone running ARDefender at it. In a miracle of modern technology you’ll immediately see (at least if the lighting isn’t all bad) a tower spring to life from the mystical shapes of the pad and enemies will start coming from all directions. Wave after wave you’ll have to scour the surrounding area through the view of your iDevice and destroy all enemies you see.

The gameplay itself is rather simple – you just drag the target reticule across the screen, aided by moving the iDevice altogether and fire at the enemies. The latter come in waves with gradually increasing numbers and varied types. To help you withstand the onslaught you have the machine gun with unlimited ammo, the area-damage rocket launcher and the laser turret, both with limited ammo. You can resupply the resources from crates dropped by friendly aircraft.

The technical side works surprisingly well. Unless there are issues with the lighting, my iPhone 4 rarely had trouble locking on to the printout to display the tower. The graphics quality is rather good and I loved the fact everything scales as you bring the iPhone closer/farther away. Alas there isn’t any support for the Retina display just yet, which does make a dent in the visual quality. The good news though is that the developers are promising to include it in the next update along with GameCenter support and several other features.

ARDefender is definitely a very interesting and unique title. Despite the Spartan simplicity of the gameplay it showcases how the games of the future might look like. And if int13 adds more depth into the gameplay, ARDefender may even hold out as fully fleshed out Action/Shooter on its own. That said, even in its current state it’s quite the fun and addictive experience shooting those pesky enemies crawling all over your living room and kitchen table.

With this I declare ARDefender officially touched!

App Summary
Title: ARDefenderDeveloper: int13
Reviewed Ver:1.0Min OS Req:4.0
Price:$0.99App Size:3.29MB
  • A unique experience
  • Excellent technical realization
  • 3 weapons and lots of enemies
  • A bit shallow and repetitive gameplay
  • No leaderboards
  • No support for the Retina display

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