X-Morph: Defense Review

X-Morph: Defence is a fresh take on the tower defence genre combining it with a top down shooter. It brings the genre to the console with ease, with controls being fluid, easy to follow tutorials and entertaining gameplay.

I must admit, I booted up the game with low expectations. The art work looked impressive, but the title screamed ‘too badass to be true’. Lately the Xbox store is flooded with so many games with titles that offer beautiful visuals but poor ports from Japanese developers or the coolest title you’ve read turning out to be a dating simulator. I’m happy to say however, this game is not one of those. X-Morph: Defence begins with an ominous glowing meteor bolting through space, shooting shards across the galaxy, scanning planets in that evil, Transformer voice. A space defender? I thought. A ‘kill all aliens’ type of game? Then the rock lands on Earth in South Africa and you control the alien spacecraft! Fair play, game, fair play.

Controlling the craft was natural and easy, a duel analog stick, point-and-shoot deal similar to Asteroid. Immediately Earth fights back with all it has for the tutorial. The first wave starting with helicopters and anti-air trucks and the final wave with a giant mechanical spider of death, naturally.  A strong start, I thought but much to my disappointment the giant mechanical death robots are far too few in between in the missions to come.

The towers are easily placed with a subtle grid system, often barely noticeable. There a few restrictions to tower placement, with rooftops also being a viable option. The game encourages you to divert the enemies path with fences, built via connecting two towers together. Often a simple button press I had minor issues with enemy forces merely stepping around my tower of death with ease – an easy fix and a minor nuisance but notable.

Amidst preparing for each wave with the construction of towers, jumping in the fight yourself as a valuable weapon in the fight and attempting to collect debris following blowing up the enemy, the game provides a surprisingly challenging experience. Whilst difficulty is selectable and easy is an option, I myself – a true gamer – chose very hard mode. If you too enjoy chaotic destruction, lasers and bullets flying everywhere and getting angry at a video game, you should try very hard mode too. Following each mission, you are offered upgrades for both your ship and your towers, providing the incentive to progress.

The game itself is visually pretty impressive for a top down, tower defence game. I was surprised at how good it looked whilst I was blowing up tanks with my lasers. When you think tower defence, one thinks of flash or java, with cute cartoon characters or balloons to pop. With destroyable landscapes of cities from London to Moscow, the game incorporates the skyscrapers as ‘destructibles’ that once blown up can be used to block the path of the enemy much like a fence would. The maps are relatively small per mission, some expand as the war rages on. The small space however allows for details such as stray bullets destroying homes or even just parked cars being caught in the crossfire to be appreciated.

Surprisingly X-Morph: Defence also boasts a co-op story mode – highly unusual given the genre type. Not only that, the co-op is local and not online! Forcing you to sit down and play with someone – the cheek! I wasn’t sure how it would translate given the hectic nature of the single player and how I’d lose myself in the constant fire. The answer? More hectic and more losing myself. I invited my flatmate to partake and we had a fun time. It brought back memories of before online gaming and how social it used to be. I’m not saying the developers thought of my memories in development, but it was a nice and surprising element to the game.

The game however, suffers from what all tower defence games do – repetition. Whether you’ve played the game once or a hundred times, the experience is the same. There is, of course, natural progression in both enemy and tower types and yes, for a while it offers something new in each mission but once you’ve seen the bosses and the stealth bombers strategy is all that remains.

If you are a fan of the genre and are looking for some tower defence action, then this game is absolutely for you. It’s fun, fast and full of missions set in all major cities throughout the world for you to destroy and conquer!

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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