geoDefense Swarm Review

geoDefense Swarm is an open-space, maze-based followup to the original geoDefense, a hardcore tower defense game that sparked a “love it or hate it” relationship. If you enjoyed that game, you’ll love this one, and if you didn’t, well, Swarm won’t do anything to change your mind.

Like its predecessor, this game doesn’t pull any punches. The creeps here are relentless, and they’ll rush you at an incredible speed. There’s very little time to build your own maze in the beginning of the level, so expect to restart a few times before you figure out a decent defensive strategy.

Crafting a defensive strategy can be very difficult at first, as the game doesn’t do a very good job of explaining how to play. A few tips pop up on the first couple of levels, but none actually go so far to tell you what the differences are between towers.

For some reason I feel like Honeycomb Cereal…

This will leave you wondering just what, exactly, a thump tower does (it sends out damage 360 degrees, but does so little it’s hard to tell if anything is happening until it’s been upgraded). You also may have trouble understanding why your missile towers seem to miss half the time (they too, need to be upgraded) and why your laser towers don’t efficiently target enemies (ditto).

These intricacies are appreciated, but really shouldn’t be left for the player to discover. As we said before, this is a brutal game that moves at a very quick pace. It’s extremely difficult to notice these things while frantically planning a maze, constructing towers, upgrading existing towers and battling dozens of enemies at the same time.

Once you do understand how to play, expect to have a good time. Crafting your own maze gives you plenty of options for taking out the creeps, so there’s more than one way to beat each level. The levels themselves can get pretty creative, and force you to work around some obstacles. Sometimes you won’t be able to build in a certain spot on the grid, and other spots will heal creeps or make them move faster.

This game gets intense.

There are a total of 30 levels split into three levels of difficulty. The easy levels are still pretty challenging, and the hard levels may spur you to chuck your iPhone through the wall. All the levels end after a set number of waves, except for the final stage of each difficulty level, which go on endlessly until you die. Online leaderboards are supported through OpenFeint, a thoughtful addition.

Graphically, the game is solid, adopting the fireworks filled style of the Geometry Wars games. Everything here looks very similar to the original geoDefense game. Our only complaint is that it’s often hard to distinguish which towers you’ve upgraded and which you haven’t.

Really, despite the initial difficulty, the actual game here is pretty rock solid. If you’re a fan of tower defense games or consider yourself worthy of any challenge, we highly recommend you pick this up. If you’re easily frustrated or need quite a bit of guidance in your games, this isn’t for you.

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