Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bloons TD 4

Bloons Tower Defense 4 is one of those tower defense games that everyone and their mother has been making. What stands out to me about the game is how the different towers evolve and level up, the way the mobs work, and the options available to the player in-case they mess up during the stage.

Bloons TD4 has you placing monkeys down beside a path to shoot down colored balloons that are trying to kill you. The monkeys come in different varieties and cover a different range of needs such as range, speed, power and special powers (such as slow, enhance, and poison). The options of how to upgrade the monkeys allow the player to choose certain aspects to focus on first over others, such as getting longer range before added power, or getting a poison effect. This may seem typical, but many Tower Defense games simply have the towers upgrade up, and there’s not much choice happening moment to moment other than upgrade or not.

The balloons themselves come in increasing variety, with a balloon within a balloon. The monkey’s have to pop through all the layers of balloons to destroy the mob, giving a vibrant visual queue to the player as to the health the the balloons. Some balloons later on have different abilities and require different strategies: camouflage balloons that require the ability to see hidden enemies (or a monkey that will attack the spot anyways, or sometimes in a pinch, a bed of nails), armored balloons that require enough power to punch through it first, balloons that burst into several smaller balloons after it pops requiring AOE to take care of the aftermath, and boss balloons (blimps).

This variety or balloons requires some planning ahead with the placement of monkeys, but can also be handles in different ways including using some of the one time use abilities such as placing nails or sticky glue on the path. Though these are priced cheaply, their effect to cost ratio is slanted towards it being an ineffective use of money, unless you really need it. One example is setting down the glue when balloons are traveling faster than expected, or using a pile of nails to pop a camo balloon allowing your monkeys to destroy the others.

Other aspects of Bloons TD4 that influence my ideas are things like the ability to assign towers to target different kinds of enemies (First, Last, Strong, Weak) which can help set up the monkeys to handle certain situations that just attacking the First enemy in range would: a Glue gun monkey that is always hitting the strongest balloons so that the other monkeys can deal more damage to it for example.

Bloons TD4 is one of the best tower defense games I’ve played, and though it is far from perfect, it offers a great deal of good design for other tower defense games to iterate on. Tower defense games are not the most engaging for the player on a moment to moment level, but Bloons TD4 manages to create gameplay from a drag and drop game.