Friday, October 7, 2011

Anthill; Tactical Trail Defense - 2.99 (Image & Form)

Line drawing and tower defense genres really seem to go together quite well from the couple of titles that merge these two genres I’ve been able to check out. Phoenix Defense Force, Boom Brigade, A.I.R. Defense, Into The Blue, and the ever popular Axe In Face come to mind, and now fans of the genre have another game to add to that short list of incredibly well done line drawing/TD games; Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense, by Image & Form International.

To start things off, the graphics and animations. I&F has done an amazing job creating some very vibrant and layered environments. You get an idea of this right when you get to the main menu. The very well done environments match the equally well done bug models and animations. It’s actually so well done that you might end up finding yourself just staring at the screen watching them move around. The bugs are also very colorful, matching the vibrancy of the environments perfectly. It’s easy to tell that a lot of time and effort went into making the movement, look, and flow of everything within the game just right. To top it off, the music is Disney-esque, and almost like something that would have fit very well within A Bug’s Life. It compliments the atmosphere and feeling of the game perfectly.
Now onto the gameplay. You start out looking down at an anthill, surrounded by shrubbery. The tutorial is well explained, learning the basic mechanics in the first level, and then new mechanics when new units are added. You’ll need to draw a line from the top of your anthill to your desired location, and then decide what units to send out on that line. You’ll need to constantly collect food in order to send out more units, and there is almost always a leaf close-by that you can snag about 100 food points from over a short amount of time. So to start things off, you’ll usually draw a line from your anthill to that leaf, and then decide to send out your collector ants on that line. They will go out to the leaf, and start bringing the food back to the anthill. Now, to keep those ants safe, you’ll need to drag your finger across the screen, or pinch to zoom in and out, to scan the area for enemy bugs that will kill your worker ants and deprive you of food. Once you find out where those bugs are coming from, or where they might come from, you’ll need to draw another line starting from the top of the anthill to an intersecting point between the bugs and the worker ants, and then send out your attacker ants. These guys will kill whatever bugs are encroaching on your territory, and leave their bodies for your worker/collector ants to pick up and take back to the hill. So after your attacker ants have cleared out an area of enemies, you’ll draw another line to their bodies, and choose the collector ants to pick them up, and take them back to the anthill for some major food points. Once you’re done with a line, you hold down on it, and select the “X” that pops up. You are able to draw as many lines as you want, but the more you draw, the more spread out our available ants will become, so it’s best to erase the lines you no longer need in a timely fashion. You can also use bomber ants, who fly out of the anthill, and drop goo wherever you tap on the battlefield. A direct hit with the goo can kill an enemy instantly, but to do this, you’ll need to hit a moving target who has the ability to change direction at any point in time. Which brings us to the AI. Each of the bugs behaves differently. This makes learning how each of your enemies moves, and attacks essential in taking them out successfully.
After each level, you’re given a star ranking based on how many points you’ve collected throughout the level. This is more important than usual because you can then use these stars to upgrade your ants. The speed of the collector ants, brutality of the attacker ants, and more. If you don’t want to battle it out to gain stars, you can purchase them through an IAP, 20 stars for $0.99, which can upgrade your ants quite a bit, but it’s not necessary, and the game isn’t pushed toward you buying the stars at all. The difficulty is set just right, and you can replay levels to earn stars that you didn’t earn the first time through. You can not, however, re-earn stars, so if you got all the stars available in a level, you can not replay it and earn those stars to use for upgrades again.
Anthill: TTD is GameCenter enabled, and has leader boards for all 21 of the levels that are spread across the 3 different environments. There’s also a leader board for your total score, which combines all of your best level scores. Having a board for each of the levels, as well as a star ranking that gives you stars for upgrades does add quite a bit of replay value to the game, especially if you’re a high-score chaser. With the game at $2.99, and on sale right now for $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy for the amount of content and gameplay you’ll get. If you’re a fan of line drawing or tower-defense games, this is one that looks beautiful, and has an insane amount of strategic elements. The controls are nice and tight, and really, everything within the game is so professionally done that it’s hard to not call it one of the best, if not the best line drawing tower defense title available for the iOS.

Anthill: Tactical Trail Defense gets a perfect score of 10 out of 10.


Version Reviewed; V 1.1
Reviewed On; 4th Generation iPod Touch - iOS 4.3.3


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