Tower Defence games have been around for a while now, and most of the genre’s games follow the well-established formula. A swarm of increasingly strong foes make their way towards the player’s base, following a pre-determined, winding path – a path which the player can line with a variety of defensive structures (the ‘tower’ part of Tower Defence). Taur, in contrast, takes ‘tower defence’ more literally. Players are placed in control of a central tower, atop of which sits a powerful player controlled weapons platform. Alongside this, players can also build a number of automated defensive structures, clustered around the main tower. These range from shield generators and a variety of turrets (anti-air, slowing cryo-beams, artillery pieces, and so on), to drone control modules commanding robot archers, shield-and-spear-wielding front-line units, and aircraft. Should the central tower fall to the enemy swarms, then it’s game over.
But not really. Yes you get defeated, but true ‘game over’ only occurs should the player lose enough rounds in succession to let the evil ‘Imperion’ take over the planet. Ultimate victory occurs after the player defeats the Imperion Overlord - a massive ship that will, unquestionably, blast the player’s tower into tiny atoms the first time it is encountered. Every 20 or so matches, the Overlord will appear again, and the player will get another chance, using their increased skill, and upgraded weaponry.
At the end of each match, win or lose, the player is rewarded with a variety of resources that they can use to research new weapons and abilities or increase their effectiveness, use to build new defensive structures during a skirmish, or ‘reforge’ primary and secondary weapons in the hope of increasing their power. This last is the most risky option, as to reforge a weapon can just as easily lower its power as increase it, and should really only be done one weapon at a time (and not on your main, go-to gun until you’ve got a suitable replacement).
All in all, it took 100 matches for me to beat the Overlord. Yes, 100 individual skirmishes. The fact that I’ve not tired of this game one jot, nor even vaguely found it tedious (and am itching to try the ‘Infinite War’ mode), is a testament to the quality of the game. The battles are fun to watch, with brightly coloured explosions hurling tiny foes across the landscape. They’re also epic in scope: in the later game (the first few levels ease the player into the swing of things) there are literally hundreds of units onscreen at any one time. All without a stutter or dropping a single frame. In fact, by the end of 100 rounds, I had racked-up just over 3,500 casualties – including drones and buildings – whilst inflicting losses of over 25,000 enemy units. Player’s direct control of the tower also adds a layer of skill and tactical decision making, with players being able to choose between several primary and secondary weapons (including mini-guns, mortars and rocket launchers), as well as timer-based abilities such as slow-time and instant shield recharge.
Really, all of this is just a way of saying that Taur is extremely engaging and tremendous fun, which is just what we want in a game. ■