An independent games studio, SMG Studio may not be a developer that one would initially recognize. With a background in the development of mobile games, OTTTD is the studio's third game to release for mobile devices. Recently releasing for Windows, Mac and Linux, OTTTD, or Over The Top Tower Defence, may be just the game to garner the small team some much deserved attention.
A tower defense, real-time strategy game, OTTTD places players smack-dab in the middle of a galactic battlefield, pitting the brave souls of the private military corporation HEROCORP against the freakishly, often hilarious enemies of the multiverse.
Embodying RPG elements, OTTTD allows each player to defend the earth from alien scum in their own, unique way. With seven unlockable classes available, players can customize each character to their liking, with two abilities, one weapon and a piece of armor available in each character's loadout. With three of the seven heroes available for use in any one battle, leveling up each of their skill trees is done using XP earned within a match. If a character sees his demise, any earned XP from that round is thrown away and a timer is set, making them useless for a set amount of time. However, if you're uneasy about losing your finest soldier, he can quickly be thrown back into battle for a price.
Each hero is a class of its own, carrying a particular skill or weapon. To name a few: engineer, rocketeer and recon soldiers are made available, each with a generally masculine, chuckle-inducing, randomly generated name. 'Meatbag Avengalist', 'Master of Bulletfist' and 'Mo Crickets' are all examples of the many possible names for your soldiers. Although petty, this small feature immediately gives off an impression of what to expect from OTTTD.
At first glance earth's invaders are nothing special. They are typical, something you'd expect from a game centered around a galactic war. And then there are the teddy bears - giant, mangled teddy bears who shoot lasers from their eyes. Delve deeper into the game's menu and you'll discover an encyclopedia full of every enemy you've encountered, detailing their statistics and giving you a closer look at their physical appearance. Many are cute, most are ugly and the majority will provide a giggle.
On top of the powerful triad of heroes, there're a myriad of towers to use in defense of the planet - twelve in fact. Starting off with a set amount of money allows for the construction of a handful of towers, and through the slaying of enemies, more money is earned, allowing for further towers to be built and upgraded. Upgraded towers are more powerful, shelling out more bullets with longer ranges and generally more strength, but just how you use your funds will determine a win from a loss.
Keeping up with both heroes and towers, necessitates a constant state of awareness. Quickly moving from hero to hero, tower to tower and back again can be tedious, requiring a constant awareness of enemies' whereabouts and a knowledge of the lay of the land. Focus too much on one area and a tower may be damaged to the point of a complete shutdown or worse yet, you may lose your strongest soldier.
Staying on your toes is often difficult with the less than perfect design of OTTTD. Zooming in and out of the map is slightly annoying as it could function in a more helpful manner. Taking a detailed screenshot or honing in on an enemy's intricate features is possible but not perfect. What's worse is zooming out. Some maps are extensive, spanning over the boundaries of your screen, and therefore, they require a lot of clicking and dragging to maneuver your line of site. Much easier, would be if one could simply zoom out further, seeing the map in its entirety.
Sadly, OTTTD's simple mechanics cause more irritation outside of its zoom function. A bar to the left of the screen shows all three characters that a player has deployed, vertically stacked upon each other. Clicking on one of the characters highlights the soldier on the field, however, as would be expected, double clicking does nothing further. In a perfect world this double click would bring you to the hero, showing players his current activity. Furthermore, in an attempt to make the controls more accessible for players, the developers have added the use of the function keys. Hitting F1 brings players to their number one selected character, F2 to the second hero, F3 to the third. This is helpful, yet the screen doesn't center upon the soldier, with him standing slightly off to the side. These are minor irritants in an otherwise spectacular game yet still negatively noteworthy.
Heroes are unlocked fairly quickly and new weapons are made available quite often, with new enemies revealed and more towers made accessible in a seemingly speedy fashion, however, with twenty-five levels available in the campaign mode, OTTTD becomes challenging somewhat early on. Having the patience to find the right combination of heroes, their skills and defensive towers is necessary to move through the higher levels, and often a level will need to be played a multitude of times, testing one's demeanor and sense of time.
Furthermore, the challenge doesn't end there. With each level players are given the opportunity to earn three stars, making a total of seventy-five available throughout the entire campaign. Earning a perfect three star score for each level is a difficult feat, one that only 2% of OTTTD's Steam players have accomplished. In other words, OTTTD will keep players busy for hours on end, frustrating many and providing a sense of relief after a particularly challenging mission is completed.
OTTTD's flaws are few and can easily be overlooked. On top of that, the indie game's entertainment value is such that players will ignore any errors noticed. With a generous price tag attached to it, OTTTD will get players the bang for their buck that is deserved.