PlayStation Plus has been giving gamers a great selection of titles over the years – PS Vita owners have been treated to classics such as WipEout 2048, Uncharted: Golden Abyss, Gravity Rush and many more including some stunning indie titles. However, what many gamers may not realise is that in the early days of the service before the advent of the Vita that games were included in the Instant Games Collection for the PS One and from the Minis range. One of those games was the futuristic tower defense title Vector TD…
Set in the future (2067 to be exact), Earth is being invaded by an alien force that has been dubbed the Vectoids. Yes, I know we’re human but does every futuristic game always have to involve Earth coming under attack and if so, why is our planet such a dangerous place to live on in the future? Makes you wonder if colonising space is really such a good idea afterall if we’re hell bent on annoying so many other species. Anyway, I digress… Taking a novel approach to the tower defense genre, rather than actually defending Earth, the game plays out in the form of a defensive computer simulation of Vectoid attacks – with you taking on the role of an Earth bound commander training to see if you are up to the challenge of defending the planet.
Okay, what follows is really nothing more than your standard tower defense format – aliens following a set path from their entry point towards the final goal using a range of weapons at your disposal. There are a total of 8 different maps to choose from, each with varying levels of difficulty and in each map you have to battle your way through 50 attack waves (or at least try to). To do so, you have a total of 11 tower types at your disposal to defend against seven different types of aliens and – as you’d expect – the further you progress through the game the faster and more resistant to your towers they become.
In addition to the towers themselves, bonus points are awarded every few levels which you can spend on enhancements to use in the game. There are four on offer – a cash boost which allows you to earn a monetary bonus for each kill, extra lives, plus two non-tower units that you can place on the map. The first of these is a damage booster and the second is a range booster. Each of these does exactly what their name suggests and allocates that attribute to all of the towers within a set range. The effect is cumulative as well so if you place multiples of any of these a significant boost can be achieved although you have to choose these boosts wisely.
On screen, you can see the power and range displayed for each unit that you have once you select them as well the strength of each adversary in the upcoming attack waves. As you upgrade each tower you will see these increase to their maximum potential and again, choosing which towers to upgrade during what attack wave is key to completing each map. Different towers are more effecting against some types of aliens than others so having a balance is critical.
Being a game from the Minis range, all of the controls are done with the d-pad and action buttons but everything is quick and easy control and is incredibly intuitive and even when the game is running at full speed in the latter waves you never feel as if the game is running at a rate that you can’t control it. Everything can be accessed with just a couple of button presses and its simplicity itself meaning that you can concentrate on just playing the game.
Visually, the game takes its inspiration from the old vector-based arcade games and computer simulations from the 80s and works extremely well. Despite their small size, all of the towers and alien invaders are well animated and not only do their job well, but each is easy to identify and even when the screen in incredibly busy, it never looks complicated or confusing and there’s never a moment’s slowdown. Sound is limited to just a single piece of music playing throughout with no sound effects and while it can be repetitive when you’re playing a single game for 30+ minutes, it’s never annoying and fits the pace of the game well enough.
As I mentioned earlier, this was given away freely with PlayStation Plus several years ago and despite being a genre that has been around for many years, ths was the first tower defense game I really spent any time playing. It’s an incredibly addictive game and one that I have found to be very tough to put down. Even though I’ve completed most of the levels in the game, there’s something compelling about it that draws me back to keep playing it to not only continually try to beat my previous high scores from levels I’ve played but to try out new strategies and different ways of completing each level. Infact it’s this variety of ways to play the game that has kept it fresh for so many years and meant that it’s been a permanent fixture not only on the Vita but on my PS3 and PSP as well.
The only real drawback with this game is that it’s a port. While that’s not something that would normally bother me at all, in this particular case Vector TD is a port of a free web-based Flash game. The question you have to ask yourself is whether it’s worth paying a couple of pounds for a game that you can carry everywhere with you and play any time you like rather than having to play it on a best laptop for gaming or desktop PC. I have noticed slowdown issues with the Flash version of the game when things get extremely busy on-screen, there’s no advertising and it loads almost instantly (whereas the Flash version has pauses while each map loads in) in so there’s no denying that the Minis version is superior, but if cost is a factor for you then that may be something that would put you off.
However, while this is a fantastic tower defense game and one that I personally have no hesitation in recommending to anyone, getting hold of Vector TD is a little complicated. This is one of those strange titles that doesn’t show up in the Minis section of the store on the PS Vita. It does show up in the results if you search for Vector TD in the store but still doesn’t allow you to purchase it. However, if you go through the web version of the store it’s there ready and waiting to buy! Yes, it’s a great deal of messing about to buy the game and then download it to the Vita having to go through your download list, but it’s well worth the effort. Without a doubt I would have to say that this is one of the best tower defense games you can buy to play on the PS Vita right now.
At A Glance
- Title: Vector TD
- Publisher: Funtank LLC
- System: PSP Minis
- Format: PSN Download
- Cross Buy: No
- Online Multiplayer: No
- Local Multiplayer: No
- Memory Card Space needed: 13Mb