Star Wars games on the iPhone have taken a strange turn lately, with Diner Dash-style time management game Star Wars Cantina, and now Battle For Hoth, borrowing heavily from previously established genres. If you’ve played a tower defense game before, you know exactly what to expect: Battle for Hoth has very little direct action, and a whole lot of digging trenches to funnel enemies past your defenses.
Battle For Hoth takes place during the events of The Empire Strikes Back, where the Rebels must hold off the Empire’s assault of their icy hideout. You can build snowspeeder hangars, and the Empire will send AT-ATs to test your defenses, but they’re not the focus of the game like they were in the movie. Most of the time you’ll be lining your trenches with Rebel gunners, who will open fire on probe droids, snowtroopers, and other targets that appear within range. As you defeat waves of Imperial troops, they’ll drop command points for you to pick up that will let you purchase more defenses.
What is it about Star Wars and fighting in trenches?
Unlike in most tower defense games, the Empire shoots back in Battle For Hoth, and can damage your defenses if you don’t take care to protect them. Placing them in trenches will help, as does building an expensive shield generator nearby. The heavy weapons you can buy require power generators, and the Empire is at least smart enough to target those first whenever possible.
You can also call in air support in the form of X-Wings, but we were disappointed by the way they’re utilized. They simply fly straight at any oncoming TIE fighters, performing no impressive maneuverings. They’re just another extra layer of defense, and lack a lot of the importance they do in the films.
Like the iPhone 4, these AT-ATs look great but contain a critical design flaw.
The main campaign is 15 missions long, and even after you’ve won, the Rebels will still lose their Hoth base, since that’s what happens in the movie. You can replay these missions again with a finite number of command points in Fortress mode, and post high scores online, but that’s the only gameplay variation.
This tower-defense game feels more like a basic mobile game than the more complex fare we’ve come to expect on the iPhone. A tactical strategy game with Star Wars characters could be pretty great on the iPhone, but The Battle For Hoth is simply another tower defense game with just a few new ideas.
Battle For Hoth is well-implemented, with smooth controls, but it also suffers from a dearth of creativity (as opposed to a Darth). You can buy slightly better sci-fi tower defense games on the iPhone like Sentinel 2 and Star Defense, if you don’t mind that they’re not official Star Wars titles. In this game, you’re paying largely for the license and not for the unique gameplay.