Crash Course

Hands-on with Pelfast's funky little tower defense effort, Comet Crash.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: March 2, 2009
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Tower defense games have enjoyed one hell of a popularity boost, mainly due to the fact that they're a simple concept that has birthed more than a few killer variations. Both the recently released Savage Moon and the continually amazing PixelJunk Monsters have demonstrated different but wonderfully effective ways of handling setting up multiple defenses to protect against incoming waves of enemies. Developer Pelfast (based right here in our own back yard and founded by ex-Sony R&D alum John Bates), is taking a slightly different tack for the whole mess, though: they're letting you take the fight to the source of all those waves.

It's probably the biggest differentiator between what their game, Comet Crash, is doing vs. all the other offerings out there. Make no mistake, there are plenty of tower defense games out there now on a handful of platforms -- including their native web-based one where many attempts at refining or building on the original concept are still free. So in bringing said concept to the PS3 and charging for it on the PlayStation Network, one needs to see a demonstrable effort to separate things from the glut of me-toos out there (though it's something of a testament to the service as it exists right now that the popularity of the genre in general hasn't resulted in a tidal wave of efforts). Comet Crash is doing it by upping the number of enemies, turrets and complete chaos of your typical tower defense classes by an order of magnitude.

There's probably no better way to see the sense of scale and ridiculous outcome to some of the tireless planning than to scroll up and click on the video we've secured from the good folks at Pelfast. In our limited time with the game (which will grow considerably if we're to get it properly reviewed by the game's release date a week from this Thursday), we still haven't really approached the level of insanity seen near the end of the video, but if you were rather captivated by the way the swarms of squiddies attacked Zion in the last Matrix flick, then you're going to want to watch this. There's a similar level of density to the waves, and it's really something to behold.

Instead, we'll just walk you through the first few moments of the game as you'll likely experience them if you end up dropping the few bucks it'll take to experience things for yourself. The tutorial lessons aren't a bad start because they'll obviously get you up to speed, but they do so at a rather frantic pace. The idea, the lessons outline while immediately tossing a never-ending stream of enemies your way, is to build a series of basic turrets that force the enemy to take a different route.

This is basic distinction number one in how Comet Crash approaches the basics of tower defense: enemies will constantly adapt to your defenses -- even in mid-approach -- meaning you'll have to constantly shift their path (thankfully illuminated for you so you can see where they'll travel on the way to your base) by placing your turrets in advancing walls and chunks. Since you can't completely block a path off, it behooves players to make the route enemies must travel be as long, winding and littered with defenses as one can get. The more serpentine and complex the route, the longer it'll take those enemies to get to your precious home and the more opportunity you'll have to lay down some defensive fire in the process.
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