Cowboys and Aliens – Silver City Defense is a game that lacks both a cowboy’s quiet charm and an alien’s advanced technology. It doesn’t do much to promote the Cowboys and Aliens movie that’s in theaters, and it’s not enjoyable on its own, either. You’d think a premise as simple as Cowboys and Aliens would be perfect video game material, but this game struggles to be anything more than tedious.
Silver City Defense puts you in the role of Zeke (a character from the comic, not the movie), a gun-for-hire who is protecting a small town against an alien invasion. If it wasn’t for the dull cutscene dialogue, you might not even know the creatures attacking the town are aliens. Your opponents look vaguely reptilian, and the only advanced technology you see are some lasers and floating scooters. There’s also no sense of scale, which is important for an alien invasion story.
Don’t just stand there. Shoot them!
You defend the town by engaging in dual-joystick shooting, which looks and feels terrible. You can aim 360 degrees around you, but the character only rotates to face eight directions. It makes for a dissonant experience, especially when many other App Store shooters don’t have this problem.
There’s also a tower defense aspect to the game, as you try to keep the aliens from destroying any of the four most important buildings in town. You’ll earn money by completing levels, and you can use it to upgrade the other buildings in town to help keep the extraterrestrials at bay. These buildings can be used to attack or slow down your enemies, or to provide Zeke with health.
Can’t say no to a lady in trouble.
You probably won’t need any extra health to complete the game, though. It’s pretty easy to begin with, but the AI is so buggy that your enemies will often just wait for you to kill them. The aliens often get stuck on the environment, each other, or sometimes on nothing at all. They’ll also stack up in the exact same place, meaning half a dozen aliens will fall dead after you originally thought you were only shooting at one.
In addition to the enemy behavior and your character’s animation, the rest of the game looks cheap, too. Cowboys and Aliens’ sole environment is detailed, but most of the sprites look blurry. Most importantly, the game has a very dull, lifeless tone that doesn’t help to combat the repetitive nature of the gameplay.
For $2.99, Cowboys and Aliens simply isn’t a good value. The developers boast ‘hours of pulse-pounding gameplay’, but it’s really just 90 minutes of bland shooting. The game also has no leaderboards, achievements, or anything that could entice you to play through it more than once. Given how unrewarding one playthrough is, we encourage you to spend your time and money somewhere else.