Thursday, February 2, 2012

Game Review: The Unstoppable Gorg

The Unstoppable Gorg is a tower defense game, the newest game from Futuremark Game Studio. Futuremark has developed two other games before this - a zero G first person shooter called Shattered Horizon and a casual mobile game called Hungribles. They are better known for their computer benchmarking software. Given this background I wasn't sure what to expect going in to The Unstoppable Gorg, but the play footage from TotalBiscuit's WTFis intrigued me and I decided to give it a try.

The game is available on Steam for Windows and Mac, as well as on iOS. An XBox Live Arcade version is on the way.

What It Does Well

Everything about this game's look and feel is spot on. It mimics black and white science fiction movies from the 50s, right down to the cutscenes involving cardboard spaceships on wires with sparklers for rockets. The in game graphics aren't anything special, but the way it all fits together is exceptional. The story that goes along with the game is very silly but matches the theme perfectly and the result is quite entertaining.

The game isn't all fluff, though. The gameplay is somewhat similar to traditional tower defense games in that the enemies travel along a set path, and you have set areas where you can place your "towers" (satellites in this case). If the enemies reach your "base" (a planet), they will deal damage to it until you kill them, or they destroy the planet. You can upgrade or sell your towers, as well. Unlike many tower defense games, the towers (satellites) actually have health as well, and can be destroyed by the enemies if you aren't careful. But the biggest innovation comes in the orbital design of the satellites. At any time you can rotate the satellite along it's orbit to move it to a better position. This also moves all other satellites in that orbit, though. Additionally, the path of the enemies changes throughout the level, making on the fly orbit rotations not only useful but necessary. This makes for a much more active gameplay experience compared to most tower defense games.

What Needs Work

I love the innovation of the orbits and the ability to more actively participate in the battles. However, I felt like Unstoppable Gorg became very hectic very fast - so much so that it's discouraged me from picking it back up after running through the first six or seven levels. I was playing on the default difficulty, and I've played quite a few tower defense games in the past and don't usually have nearly so much trouble. Additionally, linking the upgrades you have access to later in the game to how much research you can gather during each level adds to the stress. While I'm certain there are players who can easily defeat these levels right off the bat,  the difficulty seems to me to be tuned too high by default.

Should You Play It?

I definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes tower defense and wants to try something new. It's quite entertaining, though a bit difficult if all you are looking for is something to zone out to. If you are completely new to the tower defense genre, I would recommend trying an easier game to start out - Plants Vs. Zombies is a good place to start.

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