Tower defence games are a regular addition to my review tray – so much so that I’m becoming a connoisseur of the genre. This is no doubt why Save The City was assigned to me. In this most miniature of militaristic marches, you are tasked with saving your city from a stream of tanks and alien spacecraft. Does it add anything new to the genre or have we seen it all before?
Save The City begins with an introduction screen describing the general idea of the game. That is, you have to defend your home from streams of invading war machines – if you let even just one of them through, it’s game over. You are given some coins at the start with which you can buy your first few defence towers. As you progress, more can be bought and sold between levels, but not during. As is the norm for this type of game, towers sell for less than you paid for them. There are three types: arrow, gun and bomb; none have upgrade options though.
Introducing Save The City.
The game map is composed of a real-life aerial photo which has been tweaked to suit the game; e.g. see the computer generated city at the top of the screen which you have to defend. Oddly, the map does not fill the screen and there is no pinch to zoom. Consequently, all game elements are extremely small. This makes it problematic to place a tower because each – and the surrounding geography – become lost beneath your fingertip.
To make things more confusing, the map does not make it clear where you can and cannot place towers. There is a road that runs directly south from the city which one would think is the obvious route to defend. However, when the game begins, all of the tanks and aircraft follow the path of what looks like a winding river to the east. I was surprised to find that towers could be placed in the invaders’ path – I have never come across such a feature in a tower defence game. Given that everything (towers and enemies) in Save The City can overlap, it just feels like a rather lazy design.
Victory and defeat screens.
You gain more coins by completing a level, rather than on a per-enemy basis. Each level brings an increase in the quantity and/or size of enemies, and to deal with them you have to choose which towers to buy and where to place them. The path that you’re defending has sections that twist and turn a lot. So, the trick is to concentrate on these areas thus maximising the time each target spends within reach of each tower. At the same time though, you should spread your towers out enough to make sure you can finish off the stragglers. Choosing which towers to buy is a classic resource management puzzle. Do you spend small amounts on lots of puny arrows, or save up for the big bomb tower?
Preparing your defences!
When it comes to aesthetics, there is a stylistic mismatch in Save The City. You are defending a modern high-rise environment with arrows and guns from tanks and alien spaceships! The visual quality of the game also suffers due to poor animation – the screen only updates once or twice per second. The sound effects are awful too – the speaker (on the Nokia N8) distorts when several guns are firing at once.
Save The City has twenty-two levels and four difficulty settings, which are all played on the same map. At medium difficulty, I completed the game three times in forty-five minutes. In “Expert” mode, it only took me two attempts to complete. Overall, I see no long-term appeal in this game, given its lack of variety and limited challenge. The weak longevity would be excusable if the game was priced at £1.00 or even free. Instead though, Save The City is in the Nokia Store at £3.00. When you compare it to other games at the same price point, you’ll see this title offers little value for money. If you want a tower defence game then there are plenty of alternatives.
David Gilson for All About Symbian, 23rd January 2012.