February 13th, 2012 | By Doug Walter
One of the pleasures that comes from sampling a broad variety of games is to see a number of permutations of a common game mechanic. Case in point: tower defense. If first person shooters are the genre that is in the greatest need of a broader spectrum of gameplay elements, tower defense is quickly becoming a close second.
The sheer number of tower defense games on the indie and mainstream markets suggests that it just might become the new dominant genre of the market before too long. Not that this would necessarily be bad for the genre, since at least a fair amount of variations are to be had in how to defend a base from attackers. You can mirror the game against friends in DotA and League of Legends, take the attacker’s role in Rock of Ages and Anomaly: Warzone Earth, defend in the first person with guns in Sanctum and Orcs Must Die, and now, defend yourself in SPACE!!
A trio of alien races have sectioned Earth under the galactic equivalent of lebensraum for various reasons. It is up to you, in the role of space commander Adam (I see what you did there) Huxley, to protect the earth, the moon, and various human colonies all over the solar system from attack. This being a defense game, you’ve probably guessed by now that defending these places involves setting defenses of some kind and right you would be. Instead of towers or traps, the Gorg are stopped (ironically) by placing defense satellites around your hold.
As is typical, there are a variety of satellites, each with strengths and weaknesses, to place and move around. Around each planet or space station are several concentric orbits that you can place defenses on and then rotate the whole ring when enemies come from a new direction. It’s this crucial part that prevents the whole game from just being another tower defense cut-and-paste.
As with many of the titles previously mentioned, the best way to deepen a game in which you only occasionally participate in order to even the odds of success is to add more means of getting in on the action. Here, planning satellite placement, moving combat satellites towards enemies and support satellites away from them all allow the player to be more proactive in any given scenario. However, it’s important to realize that this is a comparatively small addition to what is otherwise a well-used gameplay template. Tower defense as a genre has had some memorable gameplay enhancements over the past few years and the additions to Unstoppable Gorg are primarily cosmetic.
The aesthetic of Gorg is that of 40′s and 50′s camp science fiction with its tin rockets, UFO’s on strings, flat starry cloth backgrounds, incredibly cheesy alien costumes, and period style news broadcasts and newspaper headlines describing the war among the stars. The effort that went into the inter-mission cutscenes, as well as all of the graphical assets, deserves credit for creating an enjoyable context for the main campaign. This, however, mostly distracts from the fact that the gameplay is by and large brought over from any number of well-played flash and mainstream games.
If you’ve never tried a tower defense game, then Unstoppable Gorg would be a great entry point into the genre due to its appealing aesthetic and just-above-average gameplay. On the other hand, if you’ve played more than your fair share of this genre on consoles, PC, flash, and handhelds; like I have, then it will feel incredibly familiar while playing. Altogether, Gorg is enjoyable but lacks depth when compared to other games employing similar mechanics.