Fort Defense is a castle defence game available for download from the PlayStation Store for the PS Vita. Your task is to destroy waves of incoming ships and enemies before they are able to complete their journey to enter the castle with the power of turrets and spells at your disposal across an entire campaign.
The basic premise of the gameplay is to destroy the boats before they reach and dock at the castle, while the tactical positioning of turrets and turret upgrades is essential. Turrets can be positioned in certain areas for a particular quantity of gold that you must spend to attain the types of turrets that you want to set up in areas of the level to help strengthen your defences against the waves of ships and enemies. Turrets are also referred to as towers in the game with the ability to create a crossbow turret for 50 gold pieces, while you can create a cannon turret for 100 gold pieces; and artillery turrets for 150 gold pieces, while there are phases of in-game upgrades to enhance the immediate performance of turrets from 200 gold pieces upwards, alongside many more turrets and offensive weaponry. Everything can be purchased through spending the gold pieces that are earned from destroying boats and enemies with the harder, larger enemies providing you with more gold pieces than the smaller enemies as the smaller enemies will provide you with three gold pieces, the medium sized enemies will provide six gold pieces and the larger enemies will usually provide you with ten gold pieces after they have been destroyed and even accepting the new wave of enemies within a few seconds of the fifteen second countdown timer to the new wave of ships and enemies, although you will have to progress a few levels into the game before you are able to unlock all of the turrets for purchase.
Alongside the barrage of offensive weaponry that you will use to protect the castle; there are also spells that you can cast upon the ships as they are sailing towards your castle. The spells include a rain of meteors; deadly vapour; icebergs and more besides. The spells are unlocked, rather than being paid for using gold pieces, which is a positive design choice as it is an additional reward for progressing further through the game and also helps to change the game up a bit with another variation of strategy.
You can purchase upgrades from the shop with barrels that are earned through the quality of your performance from each level in regards to how many ships and enemies were able to manoeuvre past your defences and into the castle. The upgrades are split into three separate categories including: towers, spells and common with upgrades usually starting at a cost of four barrels and increasing to as much as twenty-four barrels; as the upgrades are based upon a five star rating system. The towers upgrades include increasing the amount of damage the towers are capable of inflicting upon enemies and increasing the range of towers in order for the towers to be able to reach a greater distance with their ammunition, while also decreasing the cost of purchasing towers during a level. The spells upgrades include increasing the amount of damage the spells are capable of inflicting upon enemies and the period of time it takes to cool down, while also decreasing the time taken to reload, providing a longer duration of activity and more besides. The common upgrades include an increase of gold pieces available as your budget to implement your defences at the start of each level, more gold from each ship or enemy you sink and increased durability for your castle resulting in an increase of lives for each level that allows more ships to dock and enter the castle without having to restart the level and therefore increasing your chances of completing even the most difficult of levels.
The fast mode allows you to speed up the game in real time anytime you want to do so and on any of the levels that you have previously unlocked, therefore providing you with less time to implement your strategy and defence against the oncoming onslaught of ships and enemies for a faster and more difficult experience.
A standalone campaign called the Arctic Ocean campaign will be released in the near future providing new levels, enemies, turrets and spells for the same price as Fort Defense, so it will technically be a sequel rather than downloadable content.
The controls are simple and easy to learn as they consist of a purely touch screen based control scheme. The controls consist of tapping on one of the bases will provide up to four building options for turrets and tapping on one of the turrets will allow you to create the turret of your choice for the payment of the appropriate amount of gold pieces; tapping on the turret will allow you to purchase an upgrade for that particular turret of your choice for the payment of the appropriate amount of gold pieces; tapping on an enemy to instruct the turrets to focus their aim on that particular enemy; tapping ok on any of the on-screen prompts to move onto the next segment of information; tapping the cog icon to the bottom left of the screen to display the navigation menu screen that contains shortcuts to everything you may want to navigate to; tapping the pause icon to the right of the cog icon to pause the game; tapping the play icon to the right of the pause icon allows you to resume playing after you have paused it or returning the game to a normal speed; tapping the fast forward icon to the right of the play icon allows you to increase the speed of the game into a fast mode; and tapping any of the icons to the bottom right of the screen allows you to select a spell, followed by tapping on whichever area of the level were you would like to cast the spell.
The graphics are well rendered from an isometric perspective with enemies, ships and your turret defences and castle, alongside the surrounding environments and water are all looking great with a level of detail that you may not be expecting from a game of this genre or from an isometric perspective. It is also important to note that everything in the game performs very smoothly even as you play in the fast mode.
The presentation of the game is solid with a great touch screen based user interface across various menus such as the main menu, campaign selection menu, level selection menu, shop menu and options menu, although there is no support for navigation via the left analogue stick, right analogue stick, directional pad, face buttons and rear touch pad. The background of the main menu screen looks very colourful and vibrant as it contains a variety of ships and enemies being fired upon from turrets as they sail across the sea.
The audio is pretty good and consists of climactic and adventurous music, while the sound effects include the firing of turrets; the casting of spells, such as meteors and deadly vapour raining down on ships and enemies; and the sinking of ships and enemies as they have been destroyed by the turrets and spells.
The trophy list includes ten trophies with five bronze trophies, four silver trophies and one gold trophy. The trophies are mostly easy and will be earned even without really trying as the majority of the trophies will be earned naturally through playing the game. Some of the easier trophies include the One thousand demons bronze trophy for sinking 1,000 ships; the Top marks silver trophy for completing a level without using more than five towers; the Favourite tower bronze trophy for purchasing all of the improvements to the maximum level of a single tower; the Warlock silver trophy for purchasing all of the improvements to the maximum level of a single spell; the Strike me down bronze trophy for failing to complete a level three times in a row; the Sea dog bronze trophy for completing a level in fast mode; and the Magic storm silver trophy for casting 200 spells. The major difficult trophy is the Invulnerable gold trophy for completing all of the episode levels with three stars, although it will naturally become easier as you have progressed through all of the levels even with a one star rating on all of the levels; as it will provide you with more barrels to spend on improving your turrets, spells and other areas of your defence. There are two trophies that are not clear cut as the Last chance silver trophy for completing a level with your last remaining life and the Long John Silver bronze trophy for completing a level with only one enemy ship having attacked the outpost gates are both purely based upon luck, rather than skill, strategy or difficulty. I would estimate depending upon skill, a good trophy guide to provide some helpful tips and applying your tactics appropriately that it would take between five to ten hours to 100% the trophy list.
There are no difficulty levels, although the difficulty naturally increases as you progress further through the game with more ships and enemies on screen at once for you to sink. You can also naturally make the game more difficult by giving yourself less time to think by increasing the speed of the game by tapping on the fast forward button at any given time during gameplay, which will see the ships and enemies move faster and therefore forcing you to make quicker decisions to notice where the new wave of attacks are originating from and implementing your defence to fight them off. You can make the game easier by tapping the pause icon, as you are still able to view the positioning of your enemies, meaning that pausing the game every now and then may be beneficial to provide you with additional time to layout your strategy.
There are no online multiplayer modes or online leaderboards, which is disappointing as I believe that this is the appropriate genre of game to have a full implementation of multiplayer and online leaderboards. Online multiplayer could have featured one player creating and manning the turrets, while the other player attempts to evade the fire from the turrets as the route is mapped for the waves of ships that are attempting to dock and enter the castle, therefore creating a direct form of head to head competitive multiplayer. Even without online multiplayer, I could imagine there being a hotseat multiplayer mode in which the first player attempts to complete a level with as many lives remaining as possible, before handing the Vita over to the second player to attempt to beat or at least equal the achievements of the first player. The online leaderboards could have included leaderboards for the fastest times set on each level; the fastest combined time set across all of the levels; the most lives remaining at the end of each level; and the most lives remaining across all of the levels.
The replayability of Fort Defense is excellent, despite the lack of any multiplayer features. The campaign will have you coming back for many hours of entertainment to be enjoyed in short bursts or even longer durations as there are twenty levels with a star ratings system and upgradeable turrets, spells and items to enhance your chances of not only completing each level, but also achieving a three star rating for every level.
Overall, Fort Defense is a fun and entertaining castle defence game that will have you coming back for many hours and it must be said that it is a testament to the game; that no matter how many times you replay a level, you will never get tired of playing it and it will always feel fresh, which is exactly why the low price of just £3.99 makes this a highly recommended purchase.
At A Glance
- Title: Fort Defense
- Publisher: 8 Floor Games
- System: PS Vita
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Cross Play: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space Needed: 240Mb