This week’s games are a little more complex than the usual Monday Flash fare, swapping twitch-based gameplay and the thrill of running over prehistoric predators for a bit of strategy and tactical thinking. They might take a bit longer than normal to fully get the hang of, but that’s all right. Since at least one of them has the potential to consume all the time previously promised to things like working, eating, sleeping, etc, the few extra minutes it takes to learn your way around can hardly hurt.
Desktop Tower Defense has become something of an institution in the last several months, which isn’t too surprising – in many ways, it encapsulates everything great about the tower defense genre (a wide variety of oncoming creeps and towers to stop them with, the sense of out-thinking the inevitable) while branching out into several fantastic new directions (dozens of play styles, no set paths to have to build upon, fostering a community by way of forums).
There’s some who would argue that Desktop Tower Defense
perfects the gametype originally born out of Warcraft III
mods passed between fans still to this day. It’s not hard to see where such an idea comes from – no matter how you want to play tower defense, odds are good Desktop
will let you do so. From the more traditional play of Easy, Medium, and Hard modes, to the inventiveness of Challenge Mode’s unique trials and the chaotic, nigh-unbeatable madness of Fun Mode, no other version of tower defense offers up as much versatility and original thinking. And it’s all free, accessible at any time via whatever web browser you care to use.
StormWinds is a different take on the genre entirely: while there’s still towers, and still things what need defending from, it offers up a 2D view of the battle field and a far more hectic (and potentially more exciting) experience than most of its forebearers.
While the game makes the unfortunate decision to beat you over the head with tutorial text from the very start, try not to be intimidated – play is simply a matter of purchasing towers, placing them in one of the slots available on the current level, and then pressing the number keys to switch to which one you want to use at a particular time while using the mouse to fire. Each tower has a different means of attack, and some are more interactive than others – while the ever-faithful double machine gun fires as long as you hold the left mouse button down, the heavy cannon requires you to click and hold to charge it up before it can lob a shell across the screen. The first level is gentle enough, allowing you to buy just a couple of towers at first so as not to get too confused while tossing weaker but still challenging enemies at you. That said, it can still get a bit messy as you try to work out the best combination of towers while under fire, but once it clicks it settles into an extremely satisfying groove of steam punk-esque artillery fire. Well worth sticking with into the later levels, if only for the increasing madness behind the towers you’ll be able to buy with more money.