Vector TD has been a very popular Flash Tower Defence game at Candystand.com for the past couple of years or so, one of several by David Scott, and it’s now made the transition to PSP and PS3 as a mini. Pretty much everything has remained intact from the online version, although obviously, the controls have had to be changed from the original mouse-based system.
The minis version of the game has eight maps, divided into Beginner, Normal and Extreme, and all the tower and enemy types from the original Flash game.
According to the futuristic storyline, the year is 2067, and the earth has been attacked by aliens called Vectoids. Vectoid TD is a computer simulation program that has been designed to train commanders in how to defend the earth’s key facilities from the Vectoids.
Basically what this means is that you must strategically place towers on the map grid in order to destroy the waves of Vectoids emanating from the entrance and stop them reaching the exit.
For every Vectoid that escapes through the red exit, you lose a life, and you only start with 20 lives to begin with, although you can buy more with bonuses. The levels start off fairly slow and easy but get faster and faster as you progress. Even if you’re handling the Vectoids with consummate ease at the start, you’ll need to place and prepare sufficient towers for when the going gets really tough.
There are 50 waves of Vectoids in total to defeat. You can choose to either have the wave start automatically, or turn off the Auto option and start each wave yourself when you’ve defeated the previous one by pressing Triangle. Obviously, the latter method gives you more time to think and plan your defense strategy.
There are seven sub-species of Vectoid in all, all of which have different strengths and weaknesses. Green Flyers, for example, are very vulnerable to green lasers, but resistant to red ones, whereas the annoying Yellow Sprinters live up to their name by moving very fast, but can be slowed down by blue lasers. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have an even spread of different tower types throughout the map to prepare for every eventuality.
You can purchase 11 types in all – three green, three red, three purple, and three blue, with the blue being the most expensive. Each color does a different thing, with the blue towers’ rays draining the enemy’s power and slowing them down or even making them stop, and the cool purple towers absorbing a Vectoid’s energy and blasting it back at them.
To place the towers, all you do is select an empty grid square on the map with the directional buttons and press X, then select the type of tower you want to purchase (the ones that you can’t afford will be greyed-out), also with the directional buttons, and then press X one more time. It really couldn’t be simpler.
You earn cash to buy and upgrade the towers by destroying Vectoids. If you get really desperate for cash you can always sell a tower, but it probably won’t come to that.
Every few waves you’ll see a bonus Yellow Energy Cell which you can destroy to earn Damage and Range Boosters, plus extra lives and extra interest bonus boosts.
The whole Tower Defence phenomenon revolves around planning and strategy rather than real-time action. Once you’ve set up your towers, you watch how well they do their job and tinker accordingly. This means that you don’t get that immediacy of destroying the Vectoids yourself, which might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
As far as the graphics and overall presentation of the game goes, it has a nice bright futuristic sheen to it, and the levels are well-designed, although don’t expect anything very exciting in terms of backgrounds. The Vectoids and towers are actually quite small on the PSP, but the clean lines and bold colors transfer very well to a bigger screen if you’re playing the game on PS3.
The gameplay is the usual TD stuff: you build towers, the enemy comes, the towers shoot the enemy, more enemies come, you build more towers, and so on, you get the picture! However, the strategic elements have been well-planned, and you’ll be kept fully absorbed for quite some time working out which towers work best against this or that enemy, and where’s the best place to put a tower to maximize efficiency. I actually found the gameplay to be pretty hypnotic and strangely soothing after playing for a few hours!
I’m no TD expert, but I’d say that Vector TD looks like a pretty standard example of the genre. Will it beat Fieldrunners as the standout minis TD game? Most probably not, but it gets all the core gameplay essentials right, and if that’s all you require from a TD game rather than any extra bells and whistles, then give it a try.