Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Union of Armstrong (XBLIG): "A Unique Space Oriented Tower Defense Game"

I was recently contact by Travis Rogers of "Domain of the Infinite" about reviewing his latest indie game "Union of Armstrong". I wasn't sure what the game was about, but I was glad to do the review for him. After playing the game for a brief time it kind of grew on me. It's the type of simple game that you can sit back, and relax to as you play it. It  featured one of the most unique music soundtracks I've ever heard, and I quite enjoyed listening to it's mock radio station setup. As I did my playthrough of "Union of Armstrong" I tried my best to make it far in the game but failed since my mind wasn't focused at that time. I have plenty of things to worry about in my everyday life, so trying to become an expert at a tower defense game as involved as this one definitely proved to be a hopeless task. Regardless of that fact I quite enjoyed the playthrough, and will try my best to explain the core mechanics of the game to you guys, and gals.

Union of Armstrong is a tower defense game built around the conflict of an Apollo 11 moon colony, and a greedy corporation called Luna. As the gamer you control the defenses of the Apollo 11 colony in a final battle against Luna. The game starts off with a 3D surrounding that Travis Rogers/Domain of the Infinite is well known for. After you consult the robot behind the desk of the space station you will have a brief discussion with Luna's commander as to whether you want to surrender or not. The answer can be given from a variety of choices within a 3D menu, but ultimately it leads to the tower defense game that is the core of "Union of Armstrong". As the Apollo 11 colony's last hope you must use your limited resources, defense, and power to survive 40 waves of assault from the Luna Corporation.

The tower defense part of "Union of Armstrong" consists of a path that you must place various turrets on in order to halt the progress of incoming attackers. The path itself has many turns that must be covered, and constantly tended to as you  face each wave of attackers. At your disposal you have "resources" which are what you use to build the turrets, "defense" which is the amount of hits the Apollo 11 colony can take before being destroyed, and "power" which is what keeps the turrets and defenses running. You can relocate the resources, defense, and power among each other in order to better manage your survival. Setting up the appropriate turrets in the right places is your key to surviving all 40 waves of attackers though. You'll also have to constantly keep a watch on your power level as it declines at a steady pace from turret, and defense usage. There's also a large attacking satellite that passes over from time to time that must be dealt with by using your shield (B). As the waves of enemies continue to attack the will become more resistant to your defenses/turrets, and as a result you will need to upgrade your turrets via an in-game menu (Y). Keeping a constant watch on what is going on onscreen is definitely a mandatory thing.

The controls in "Union of Armstrong" seemed to be fairly complicated to me at first. After getting into the actual game though I was able to understand it much easier. I can only recall some of the controls, but what I tell you may be able to help you better understand the game. I found during my playthrough that you basically use the top bumper buttons to rotate between the three available turret types. Once you have selected the type of turret (slow, basic, advance) you want to use you place it along the outside of the path by pressing the (A) button. If at anytime you wish to recycle your resources/turrets you can simply press the (X) button. The recycling process goes by the order in which you layed the turrets though, and as a result the cannot be recycled individually or at random. Aside from those basic controls you can also defend the large Apollo 11 colony that's located at the very end of the path by holding down the (B) button when one of the attackers runs into it. The (Y) button is used to bring up the transfer menu with which you can transfer the resources, defenses, and power amongst each other. For the placement of the actual turrets you'll guide the onscreen cursor with the (Left Thumbstick), or the (D. Pad). Those are the basic controls you will use, but if I left any out you can find them on an in-game controller diagram that the developer has included in the game.

In conclusion I found "Union of Armstrong" to be an oddly enjoyable game. I wasn't very good at it, but something about the game definitely held my attention. I believe it may have been the music, and the mock radio station that was playing during gameplay though. Whatever the case I found the game to be fairly decent. The sound quality, and visuals were both impressive for an indie game. The control scheme was easy to pick up on once I got started, and I only had to visit the "How to Play" section once before doing my playthrough which was nice. If you've ever played tower defense facebook games like the ones that can be found in "Mafia Wars" then you'll be right at home when playing this title. In the end I think this game is very much worth the asking price if you are a tower defense gamer. Keep in mind though that this isn't like 3D RPG tower defense games you may be used to, but more like the 2D old school genre.

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