There have been hundreds of films, TV series’ and games about alien invasions. The human race always seems to get destroyed at first, but then we finish up with Will Smith punching an alien in the face whilst muttering the immortal line “Welcome to Earth”. It’s a David and Goliath story we love to see retold again and again.
But in X-Morph: Defense the focus has been switched, with us playing as the alien who are invading earth, whilst those pesky humans are the enemy. But is it as good as Will Smith’s first contact with an alien race?
X-Morph: Defense is a mix of top-down twin stick shooting and tower defense. The aliens (that’ll be you!) are landing on parts of planet Earth and you must protect the base while your race terraforms the planet. Coming to get you are human defensive armies – on ground and in the air. You are put in charge of a ship that fires on the oncoming armies as you also build up all the defenses for the upcoming battle.
The fight comes in two stages. The first is the preparation stage, where you have a number of resources to spend on the defenses. Using the top-down map to scour the area, you’ll see the routes the approaching forces will take. Resources can be spent on defense turrets, air defenses and diverging pathways with laser walls, whilst many more little special treats are in store as you progress through the campaign.
The second stage takes place through a number of attack waves from the humans, with you protecting the mothership. Each location you invade around the world has around six waves and these attacks gradually build in scale, both in their ferocity and the type of enemies that you have to defeat in that location. The enemies start arriving from all different paths across the map, and your main purpose is for them to not reach and destroy the mothership that is terraforming the land.
You do this by simply attacking with your ship using a twin shooting technique and utilising a special power up attack that comes with limited usage. Then, depending on how well you’ve placed your defenses, you should find them helping out and attacking the enemies as they get near. If your defense turrets get destroyed, thankfully, you can head into ghost mode mid-battle and buy more defenses; at least if you have the right resources. At the end of the wave, you get to rebuild and replace before it starts all over again. Some locations finish with a big boss battle, like a giant robot spider for instance, whilst others will whisk you to another corner of the Earth. You get upgrade points to spend on new tech, extra weapons and special attacks after each location is completed.
The game is all good fun and for tower defense fans out there this a more than solid experience of that type of genre. All the controls work as they should, and the twin shooting arcade action is nothing short of great. The amount of upgrades and new tech you get to purchase as you progress is top notch and this ensures that X-Morph: Defense stays fresh. The problem I personally have though is that I get bored of the repetition very quickly. The first few stages are great and the gameplay is good fun, but then the prospect of having to cope with another wave with a very similar outcome makes me want to cry. BUT for tower defense fans, those who love this genre, then this won’t ever be the case. It’s worth noting that the game has a split screen co-op mode too, which certainly raises the entertainment factor – one can shoot the dastardly humans, while the other builds the defenses rapidly and this adds hours of fun to the whole experience.
Unfortunately, it all looks a bit like a last generation title – at least when you first look at it as it doesn’t do anything remarkable in the graphics department. But deep down you’ll find that X-Morph: Defense has some nice destructible physics that are not to be scoffed at and some decent designs across the locations. The story that unfolds is okay and plays well on the B-movie trope, albeit with an original slant, whilst the sound is good without ever breaking any boundaries. The voice work can get a bit grating mind, with almost a retro feel to the acting.
Overall and I enjoyed X-Morph: Defense much more than I thought I would. The gameplay is easy to control and all the mechanics work very well indeed. There’s a lot to do in the campaign and the co-op mode adds extra relish to an already meaty package. I have to admit to feeling a bit of boredom quite quickly though, but as I said Tower Defense fanatics should ignore my ignorance and add another half star to this review. It feels very retro in both its looks and sounds, but that’s not a bad thing.
At the end of the day though, if you really want to destroy those horrible humans and get your revenge on Will Smith, then you could do worse than buy this game.