The tower defense genre has been around for decades, with the Defense Grid series and the addictive Plants vs. Zombies being amongst the standouts. These saw you fighting back waves of futuristic aliens and funky-looking zombies, respectively. Aside from the strategic elements though, the latest tower defense game on Xbox One, Assault on Metaltron, doesn’t really have anything else in common with its aforementioned counterparts. Can the uniqueness be the key to success for Assault on Metaltron, or should you give it a miss and let Metaltron succumb to the onslaught?
It depends on whether you’re after a super polished experience that’s full of inventive ideas and can entertain for hours. If so, you’re out of luck because Assault on Metaltron isn’t that game; however it is a cheap and decent enough alternative that manages to rope you in for a quick go here and there.
Assault on Metaltron is a tower defense game set on a metallic and energy-rich planet of Metaltron. As the Defender Golem of this land, you’re tasked by an Elder Golem with protecting the planet from the impending assaults from… humans and orcs. That’s the story according to the store description at least, as there’s not an ounce of narrative explained in-game. It’s not surprising though, given how difficult it would be to make sense of such enemies traversing the galaxy together to steal energy. It’s utterly bizarre, which is why the premise is a definite weak-point.
After a brief tutorial, which doesn’t help an awful lot, you’re thrown into the over-world map containing 40 stages; this is split into four areas, with each area unlocked by completing a certain amount of stages. The aim throughout is to stop the enemy waves – either alone in local co-op – from reaching your energy resources and stealing them. Fortunately, there’s a pathway that they must follow, making it slightly easier to curb their attacks. These paths become more convoluted eventually, ensuring layouts aren’t too samey. In order to halt the thieving swines and decimate their health bars, towers must be built at any predetermined locations by using an in-game currency.
The sheer variety of towers is great, with everything from single-shot cannons and rocket launchers to flamethrowers and poisonous gas expulsion. All the towers are available from the beginning, with different types priced differently depending on how powerful they are. Each tower has its own range, hence the placement is quite crucial in ensuring the maximum amount of sustained damage dealt to its surroundings. Wherever you wish to build a tower, you must navigate the Golem towards a particular spot and open up a rather basic looking menu, before choosing which one to erect.
Once erected, the towers are upgradeable too, with the option to increase power, cooldown speed or range. It seems a bit simplistic by the nature of every tower possessing the same upgrade possibilities and, in doing so, this takes up a fair chunk of the currency you earn by killing enemies as well as surviving entire waves. Given the fact that Assault on Metaltron is tight when it comes to currency, it doesn’t bear thinking about spending it this way. There is a more frugal approach however, involving the Golem standing where the tower is and dancing for a period of time to gain the upgrade. The idea is fun for sure, but practicality-wise it’s slightly detrimental to you being able to move around and build towers in the midst of the action.
As for the enemies faced throughout the levels, and well, it flatters to deceive because what you end up with are knights, orcs, dragons, and some tank-y looking vehicles. Sure there are slight variations of each, but not enough to keep the waves time after time. It’s not helpful to the cause that you don’t really know which enemies have strengths or weaknesses in regards to your weaponry. You know such a thing exists, but it’s another case of a poorly implemented tutorial lacking in true guidance.
That being said, the levels have an intriguing difficulty to them and the fact the early moments of the initial bunch are just as tough as the latter ones means it poses a real tactical test. Oddly though, surviving the first few waves is the hardest part and the rest within the level are much easier to manage. Genuinely, your first purchase or two can make a huge difference to your chances of succeeding. Although it can get repetitive pretty quickly, there’s a sense of achievement to be had in short spells. Any more than a handful of levels, lasting up to ten minutes a piece, and it will do your nut in; especially if you don’t turn off the audio.
The problem with the Assault on Metaltron soundtrack is that it’s just one, increasingly annoying, electro-rock style track on a loop. I figured the music would change within different areas, at the very least, but instead you’re stuck with the same noise forevermore. While your ears are suffering, your eyes won’t be overly pleased either. You see, sometimes there’s too much vibrancy in the colour palette and it becomes tough to focus on what’s occurring.
Assault on Metaltron is not without a couple of technical hiccups either. The dancing Golem occasionally has no effect on filling the upgrade meter, with its smooth moves ignored. For some reason the currency is subject to random deductions, even when you’re defeating enemies with ease, and you’re left in the dark as to why. And the most baffling glitch can happen during the purchasing of towers, where a flamethrower acquisition somehow defaults to a light cannon.
All in all, Assault on Metaltron for Xbox One is a simple tower defense game with a simple UI and a simple structure to its approach – there’s really nothing overly special about it. Fortunately though, the tower variety, the rather challenging difficulty, and the swiftness of each level means that there’s enjoyment to be had in short bursts. Sure, it has a couple of issues and you will find better games of this ilk on the market, but not for such a low price point – seeing it costing just over a fiver. The cheapness ensures that Assault on Metaltron could fulfil your strategic desires for a little while.