I have to make a brief confession. I really like shiny things. I'm serious. I also really like tower defense games, especially quality tower defense games.
Apparently the designers over at PointZero Co. also shared this peculiar combination of things to like when they sat down to design Metalix TD. Besides being a top quality tower defense game, it's also undoubtedly very, very shiny.
At first the game appears quite sparse. An ominous glowing red line that makes a path toward what can only be a rotating red crystal you have to protect. There are no specific build slots to build your towers. You're free to build anywhere. Nothing really new yet, so… Place a few shiny towers near the red line and start the first wave. You'll decimate some robots that look like very shiny waddling eggs. As the last one explodes in a tiny screaming mushroom cloud you'll get the satisfying "Wave 01 Completed" and start feeling comfortable. You've done this before. You can do it again.
And then the red line moves.
Those carefully placed towers (the ones you set so carefully on corners and other strategic places) are suddenly not quite so strategic. If towers happen to be on the red line and get hit by a shiny robot, they'll take damage and eventually explode. Fortunately, the designers thought of this and gave your towers the ability to move.
And here the subtle brilliance of Metalix TD becomes apparent. The entire strategy of the game is so wonderfully dynamic. It'll be rare you'll ever have a massive surplus of gold but moving a tower only costs 5 gold per square. This allows towers to slowly strafe the red line, unleashing rockets in a shiny mini-Armageddon.
With the exception of the "path of invasion" changing, Metalix TD plays like most tower defense games. Buy a tower, upgrade a tower, heal a tower, etc., and has well written instructions that explain the functions of all in-game interface options. It's that one exception that makes it so much fun to play and hard to master.
Analysis: When a game comes along that changes something so fundamental about its genre, it makes sense to pay attention. With Metalix TD you get all the usual tower defense conventions, like tower upgrades and wave types, but the gameplay experience is quite unique. The red line the robots move down is randomly selected, which definitely adds to the replay value. In later levels it's an increasing challenge to utilize a tower's ability to move, especially when towers cost more each time one is bought.
The graphics are smooth and, well, shiny. The variety of enemies is interesting and sometimes amusing. The sound track and sound effects all fit amazingly well to make for a pleasant experience. The ability to fast forward some of the early waves would be a nice addition. So would a save feature.
Metalix TD offers a refreshing change of pace to the tower defense genre. It can get be a little frustrating watching a tower move just a little to slowly to catch that boss ball rolling toward your crystal (and you don't have the gold to upgrade its speed)…but that's when you can sit back and take pleasure in how everything is just so very, very shiny.
Thanks to Shazbot for suggesting this game, and to Icenine for reviewing it!