Well soldier, did you follow your orders from James to take a look at MACE tower defense? I know some of you obeyed, played the game and reported back to him. For those that did, I'm glad you made it back; trying to prevent an alien invasion is no easy task. MACE tower defense is one in a long line of tower defense type games; but it stands out with impressive graphics and an in-game purchasing or upgrading system that continuously tempts you to get stronger; more efficient at holding back an extraterrestrial onslaught.

Find the most strategic tower placements and the best combination of tower types to push them back. It's all up to you how you want to defend the Earth, just so long as you don't let those aliens successfully make a mad dash to the finish line. For those that didn't follow orders, consider this a debriefing of sorts. There's still time to join the fight; the people of Earth are counting on you soldier, so start building!

Each level is centered around a specific road or path that enemies follow. There are a set number of enemy waves that must be survived in order to complete the level. In addition, you are given a set number of life points for a level. Each enemy that makes it to the end of the path reduces your life points by one. If your life points reach 0 it's game over, leaving you to try again. In each level you start out with $300 in the bank, enough for two towers. Each enemy that you destroy gives you more money. The more money, the more towers you can build. Surviving each level grants you Credits towards upgrades and purchases. Credits are also earned by destroying boss vehicles and by the number of lives you have left. Initially, you can only set up towers on the either side of the road (granted there are no obstacles preventing you from doing so), but there are other items that can be purchased and placed on the roads as well. The first two towers you have access to are as follows:

  • Gun: Rapid Fire, Low Damage, Low Range
  • EMP: Slows down enemies with Electroshock

With Credits, you can then purchase these towers:

  • Laser: Damages multiple enemies if they are in a straight line
  • Fire: Set enemies aflame
  • Cannon: High Splash Damage, medium range
  • Rocket: High Slash Damage, High Range
  • Flak: Rapid fire rate, high range
  • Artillery: Slow fire rate, high damage, high range
  • Power Support Tower: Non-offensive. Increases fire power of a nearby tower
  • Range Support Tower: Non-offensive. Increase the range of a nearby tower

As I said, towers are placed beside the road, you can also purchase items to be placed on the road:

  • Mine: Explodes upon enemy contact
  • E Field: Slows an enemy when they pass through the energy field (limited used compared to EMP tower)
  • Wall: Stops enemies for a limited time

Pay-per-use items are available for those frustrating times, when all seems lost.

  • Big Bomb: Used on a specific location
  • Air Support: Also used on a specific location
  • Atom Bomb: Causes damage across the entire playing field

For each tower there's a value for damage, fire rate and range. In the shop, you can increase these with credits earned through game play. Unfortunately, you cannot use credits to upgrade items that are placed on the road, nor can you upgrade the support towers. During the level, the money earned can also be used to upgrade these towers, not just for building new ones. Upgrading increases the damage, fire rate and range even further, but only until the tower is sold or the level ends.

The alien vehicles vary in size, speed and durability. Many of the enemies that traverse down the gun loaded gauntlet can be seen in the space shooter MACE. That being said, it was a bit funny to see the once agile cosmic battle ship now slowly crawling along on its belly.

One feature that stood out to me was the ability to commandeer a tower and direct it manually. If you let the game play out, sometimes you see the towers may not focus on the enemies you want it to. The closest one is not always the biggest threat. Perhaps one is about to slip past and make a break for the end. If you press and hold your finger on a tower, you can then control its direction of fire. This may be the difference between winning and losing.

Another feature that I liked is the free play mode that is available for each level. After beating the level, an option pops up offering for you to keep going. In this mode, the waves are endless, with only your life points to worry about.

The Good

  • Manually override a tower for direct combat
  • Quickly add/sell/upgrade towers in battle
  • Great accompanying soundtrack and sound effects
  • Credit system to purchase towers, support and more
  • Games tips are provided on loading screens

The Bad

  • The game pace may seem slow after a while. There is an option to double the game play speed, but sometimes, that's not enough
The bottomline

MACE Tower defense is a great addition to the tower defense game genre. There's something about the strategy involved that keeps me hooked on it; should the tower be placed closer? Should I use this tower instead of the other one? The high quality, yet retro, graphics give this game a classic feel. MACE Tower defense comes in two variations; a free version that includes in-game ads and a full version for $1.99. The full version is ad free and also lets you start off with 3000 Credits to use in the shop. With those credits, the upgrades you can afford will help you get through the first 3 or 4 levels with little effort. Both versions are available for the Z10, Z30, Z3, PlayBook and the Porsche Design P9982.

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