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The original castle smasher finally gets a td makeover...

Crush the Castle Tower Defense is, as the name suggests, a tower defense game by developer Joey Betz and Toge Productions released in July 2011. It is based on the very successful Crush the Castle series, which consisted of using catapults and siege weapons to being down different castles in spectacular ways. In the tower defense version of this game, however, you're required to build towers to protect the same castles that you were defending earlier. Here are some of the primary features of this iteration of the Crush the Castle series:

Gameplay

The storyline of Crush the Castle TD starts off where the original Crush the Castle series left off. The King of the Redvonian Empire has finally taken over the land thanks to his Siege Master (aka you) and his catapults. The sieges proved a great way to get rid of all of your King's enemies, but one remained, King Blutias. The armies he amassed want to take down the castles (which belong to your King this time around), and now you're called upon to defend these castles that you so lovingly destroyed brick by brick. So you start off on a map and help different lords save their castles.

The real gameplay is quite similar to any typical tower defense game. You have a path directly leading to the castle along which you can build different kinds of towers that take out the enemy armies as they move towards the castle. The enemies get stronger as the waves and levels progress (both in quantity and quality) and you in turn can upgrade your towers and make them stronger to take on different enemies. The more varied your enemy types, the more kinds of towers you get to beat them up. The castle has its own health and you lose when its health reaches 0. Pretty much same as most other TD games out there in that respect.

There isn't a very great variety of enemies in this game to be honest, but there are plenty of tower upgrades and types to keep you interested. You have the typical catapults, ballistas, arrow towers, wizards and stuff, but all of their attacks can be augmented through upgrades. Upgrading is done through a separate tower called the Quarry, which doesn't fire anything at enemies. Different upgrades are unlocked through collecting XP from winning levels and then using that XP in the game menu to unlock upgrades. The system's quite simple, all in all.

The list of upgrades is where the game makes its mark. You have upgrades to increase your towers' range, the rate at which they earn gold, their firing rates, what they bring when you sell them and best of all, the ability to raise the health and fortifications of your castle. That ability is especially useful later on. The wizard tower can be used for fire, cold and electricity-based attacks and adding these abilities to your already existing towers. The abilities that you choose to go with can have a major bearing on how the game goes for you and hence that sort of strategy is really important.

The toughest part of the Crush the Castle Tower Defense game begins when you move on to saving castles in the second region. The pre-existing paths dry up, which is a signal for the enemies' armies to wander about as they please and screw up all your tower arrangements. To prevent that, you have to use your towers to make a path that they can't get out of. Essentially this makes the game both a free-form as well as a path-based game, which makes it quite different from any other tower defense game.

The best way to earn gold medals though remains quite simple. For best results, use Ballistas with a fire upgrade and Trebuchets with a cool/ice upgrade. Get the firing range upgrade for both of them from the Quarry and use it twice on the Ballistas and once on the Trebuchets. Also, use the Hardened Steel upgrade for Ballistas and you're all set for a gold medal winning streak. Use the same strategy for the final level of the game as well. Just use around 8 trebuchets with ice and splash damage range upgrades and spread them across the route from the beginning to the castle. This will help to keep your enemies slowed down. Fill in the spaces with Ballistas that have the Hardened Steel and Fire upgrades with 2x Range upgrades so as to make the path that the enemies have to follow as long as possible and you should be able to get a gold medal on this one pretty easily.

Crush the Castle Tower Defense is a pretty solid game. It is extremely well-balanced and thanks to all the upgrades there's enough to keep you pretty interested. The main problem with it though is that it isn't exactly special or different than most other games in this genre. It will keep you interested if you love tower defense games, but otherwise there isn't much else. It is a good game, but it doesn't have that inherent interesting quality that comes with it being a Crush the Castle game.

Graphics and Audio

The graphics in this game are, much like the game itself, good but not special. They are clean and polished though. The towers and castles are really well-detailed as are the enemies (who actually look a bit cute, especially the cavalry) and so are some of the plants in the background, but the grass texture quite ruins the effect because it looks more like a load of mashed green particles. The shower of blood that enemies disintegrate into when they die is an excellent effect though and very satisfying.

The audio is a different matter altogether. The part during the game menu is excellent and really puts you in the mood for some medieval fantasy-based killing, but all of that disappears during the game, where there's no music at all and all you can hear are the screams of enemies as they die. Its good, but it's a pity that such good music was otherwise allowed to be wasted.

Conclusion

As mentioned above, Crush the Castle Tower Defense is a good, solid game, but it lacks that extra ingredient to make it really special and memorable. Hardcore fans of the tower defense genre ought to enjoy the game, but it won't be gaining many fans beyond that. Crush the Castle is an excellent concept, but that concept hasn't been fully integrated into this version of the game yet. Hopefully there will be a second one that will do that job more effectively.