Game Review: Fort Defense (PS Vita)

Fort Defense PS Vita

As are so many other gamers, I’m always wary when it comes to games that are ported to the PS Vita from other platforms, especially from other mobile formats such as iOS and Android. Fort Defense is another in that seemingly long line of those to have been ported to the Vita by 8 Floor Games, this time providing us with their first tower defense offering…

As with all other games in the genre, Fort Defense needs to have some form of central theme and in this case it’s pirates! You’re tasked with defending your pirate cove from invading seafaring attackers so it’s your job to build towers, gun emplacements and everything else at your disposal to protect your booty (loot that it, not what some of you might be thinking!).

Being at sea, you’re obviously limited in terms of where you can place your weaponry but fortunately there happen to be some rock formations jutting out of the water at conveniently placed locations for you to position your cannons, over-sized crossbows and other heavy artiliary as well as the occasional cliff protecting your hideout. As you’d expect, the attacking forces come at you in waves (or should that be riding the waves?), with each getting increasingly difficult and larger with a more varied range of ships in tow.

As you progress through the game, you have more defenses at your disposal as well as various magical attacks that you can unleash on specific ships. These can be used by simply selecting the appropriate spell icon on screen and then selecting the target ship. Once used they need time to recharge so they need to be used wisely. As with all games in the genre, your defenses can be upgraded by using coins collected from destroying approaching vessels. Each time you successfully complete a stage, you will also be awarded barrels. These can be used in the mid-level shops to purchase further tower upgrades, spell upgrades and additional boosts and to unlock certain rock formations on levels that you can then use to position selected gun outposts so you need to use the barrels wisely in the store.

I have to say that this isn’t the best tower defense game that I’ve played on the Vita… and I’m not just talking about native Vita titles here. While there is potential for a really fun, engaging game here, it is really let down badly by the controls. As a console the Vita is blessed with the most flexible range of controls of any system on the market with two analogue sticks, a d-pad, a front touch screen AND a rear touch pad but Fort Defense can only be controlled using the touch screen. This would be fine if the controls were responsive, accurate and quick and easy to use. Sadly that’s not the case and all too often I found myself trying to place units and purchasing the wrong one, trying to upgrade units and instead clicking off them completely and even worse not being able to use magic attacks because I couldn’t select enemies to attack. Equally, the graphics are presented on screen rather small yet there is no way – as you might expect – to zoom in. With all the other tower defense games I’ve encountered the play area is either made up of larger elements on a small playfield or allows the player to scroll or zoom in /out using the touch screen but the display here is fixed. A minor frustration but it does make the game even harder to play than it should be.

Navigating the menus were just as frustrating to use as some on-screen buttons needed to be tapped repeatedly to be recognised and eventually it left me feeling as if I was fighting against the game just to try to play it. I mentioned earlier that this game has been ported to the Vita and to be fair, it’s not just an iOS port as Fort Defense has also been released for the PC but being completely blunt this is another one of those games that shows its iOS origins. Certainly when playing the game it feels just like an iOS game being dependent on touch screen controls completely.

The graphics and sound continued in that department. With the exception of the towers rotating and very basic animation of the boats sinking when hit, there was no animation whatsoever in the game. No rippling water, when boats changed direction they simply flipped horizontally through 180 degrees and despite some reasonably well drawn backgrounds, the visuals looked as if they had been designed to keep everything down to as small a file size as possible.

Sound is just the same with relatively limited and functional sound effects and the same piece of – somewhat short – music playing throughout the entire game. There’s no variation from one level to the next and repetition soon sets in. Considering the file size of the game, there’s no reason why there can’t be more music or at least a different piece for each set of levels.

Right from the start though the game didn’t feel right. Whether this was an error with the game generally or not I don’t know, but the title screen makes no reference to the name of the game whatsoever (as you can see from the screenshot) and very early on it encourages – almost begs infact – for you to leave a five-star rating for it in the PSN Store. To me, this screams of desperation on behalf of the publishers asking players to encourage others to buy it. Games should sell based on their strengths, not by nagging players to rate it. I wonder how often this screen will be displayed to gamers or whether it will only disappear once a rating has been given. If so, then it’s a rather underhanded move and something that I only expected to find on iOS and Android apps.

I really did want to enjoy this as I do enjoy tower defense games no matter what the subject matter is but no matter how hard I tried, I really struggled with Fort Defense. Looking at this, there are far better tower defense games available for the PS Vita covering a diverse range of themes whether they are available through PlayStation Mobile, PSP or even the Minis range and you’re far better off spending your money on one of those instead of this as you’ll have a much more enjoyable gaming experience and certainly a less frustrating one.

Simon Plumbe

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
  • PlayStation TV Compatible: Yes
  • Memory Card Space Needed: 240Mb

Vita Player Rating - 04

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About Simon Plumbe 908 Articles
Husband, father and lifelong geek. Originally from the West Midlands, now spending my days in South Wales with my family and a house full of animals. Passionate about video games, especially retro gaming, the Commodore 64 and PlayStation Vita. Love pro wrestling, sci-fi and I'm an animal lover and vegetarian.Enjoyed this and my other articles? Why not buy me a coffee: http://ko-fi.com/simonplumbe

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