The Good: Cheesy, entertaining homage to golden-age science fiction movies
The Bad: Wrapped around average tower defense game
The Ugly: Nothing.
There are, just to pin a rough number on it, a hundred and twenty three million tower defense games available on the web. Doubt me? Start at http://www.flasharcade.com/tower-defence-games.html or http://toptowerdefensegames.com/ or http://www.supertowerdefense.com/ to name just a few. Try out Bloons or Villainous or Revenge of the Stickmen. All free. Sure, there’s a lot of chaff among the wheat, but most of the web sites have a ranking system of some kind or tell you how many times each one has been played. So, why in a world of millions of free TD games does a company try to market a TD game? Good question, and I’m not sure I know the answer. Some companies have had some success by mixing TD elements with, say, RPG (like Dungeon Defenders) or FPS (like Sanctum). And then we come to the game at hand, Unstoppable Gorg, which is more or less, beyond some clever elements, just a TD game. Sure, they’ve worked really, really hard and done an admirable job of making a send up of golden-age science fiction movies complete with rubber scare masks and spaceships on wires special effects, and the game itself is actually pretty fun, but I’m not sure it reaches the threshold of paying for it.
To start with where this game goes right, and it’s really not part of the game itself, I’ve got to talk about the plotline and the cutscenes. I’m sure a lot of gamers younger than I am won’t recall Chiller Theater or the black and white science fiction movies of the forties and fifties or the old Buck Rogers serials. These things were famous for overacting that would make William Shatner cringe and awful special effects that involved plastic spaceship models with sparklers jammed into their engines. The alien monsters were nothing more than actors in rubber Halloween masks, masks so cheap that they had no moveable mouth or just a slot that you could see the actors lips through. Cheese, but fun. The guys at Futuremark have really captured that sense of zany peril and cartoon heroism.
But enough talking about the cutscenes, right? This is a game review. And first and foremost Unstoppable Gorg is a game, I suppose, a TD game. The playfield is round, the thing you’re trying to protect lying at the center of a number of concentric orbits. Each orbit has a number of points where you can place satellites, i.e. your defensive (and support) structures. As in all TD games, your enemies travel a circuitous route in and around your defenses on the way to the thing you’re trying to protect, and your defenses have to destroy them before they get there. To Futuremark’s credit there are, oh, twenty different satellites. Many of them follow the standard TD formula: rapid fire with low damage, slow fire with high damage, long range, short range, area effect, that kind of thing. Others are not defensive towers, but support structures, like a satellite that repairs other satellites, or one that projects a shield. Others generate research points (which are used to upgrade satellites) or generate cash (which buys them).
The gimmick to this game, the thing that they’re going to push in all the trailers, is that you can rotate the orbits individually to bring your high power defense satellites nearest the enemy route or distribute your defenses to cover multiple enemy routes. Then some levels throw in the monkey wrench of locked orbits that you can’t rotate or ones that rotate beyond your control. It works pretty well, but can obviously get a little frenetic when there are a lot of enemies coming from a lot of different directions. There are also some satellites that work in proximity to other satellites (the shield, for example, can only project its shield so far) that requires you to move multiple orbits, which you have to grab and move individually. That’s awkward.
Like many TD games, you rapidly pick the handful of satellites that work with your playing style. There is also an economics at play – some towers give you a lot more bang for your buck while others seem to be priced far too high to be practical. You only get to bring a certain number of satellites into any given level, so some of them I hardly even tried. I’m also probably not giving anything away by saying that Gorg turns out to not be your only enemy, and some weapons work better against other enemies which brings a little extra strategy into the game. But none of this is anything that hasn’t already been seen in any of the millions of TD games already made. Sure, they’ve thrown in some arcade modes and some achievements, but I don’t see that it adds up to very much extra.
Look, Unstoppable Gorg is a pretty good tower defense game. The graphics are flashy, and the mix of towers and enemies are good, but I often found I was playing the game to get to the cutscenes, not to enjoy the game. That’s the wrong way around, isn’t it?
Reviewed By: Phil Soletsky
Publisher: Futuremark Games Studio
This review is based on the PC version of Unstoppable Gorg provided by Futuremark Games Studio.