Hello, my name is Doug and I am a Game-Aholic. I am completely addicted to playing games on my Pocket PC. I did not realize the extent of my addiction, or even that it was causing a problem at all, until I played the nefarious Azgard Defence, the latest offering from Moregames Entertainment. That was when I found myself lying awake at 2:00 am, in a cold puddle of sweat shaking as I worried about the citizens of Azgard Tower. How would I be able to save them? I even resorted to hiding it under my desk at work, blasting away at the Creeps, surrounded by open but unread law books. OK, so maybe there is a bit of hyperbole here, however, one thing is for sure: Azgard Defence is among the most original and addictive games I have played on the Pocket PC.
Installation and Registration: Azgard Defence follows a relatively standard installation procedure. Simply download the setup file from the Moregames website and install it onto your device via ActiveSync. Once installed, you can play the game for 30 minutes before you must register. Thirty minutes of gametime is more than enough time to learn some of the basic strategies for killing Creeps and protecting your citizens. Register to unlock the full version.
Overview and Gameplay: The basic goal of this game is to protect the citizens of Azgard Tower from the attacking marauders, known as Creeps. Azgard Tower, which is populated by 20 peaceful citizens, is located deep within the maze of Azgard, surrounded by foliage and high walls.
Creeps ascend in waves of 20 from what could be a sewer or a portal to another dimension. Assimilated together into a Borg-like collective, the Creeps travel in packs with the singular purpose of destroying Azgard Tower and all who live within it. Each time one of the Creeps makes it to the tower, you lose one citizen. A boss will take 5 citizens at a time.
Left to their own devices, the Creeps will march Lemming-like, along the same unwavering path (you will be shown their path via a fly-over of the map at the beginning of each new game), whether it leads to their ultimate doom or to their ultimate goal — the tower. Your task, of course, is to protect the Tower by destroying the Creeps. To do this, you are afforded various gun towers and airship units which will attack any Creeps who stalk through their zone of defense.
The game ends when you lose all 20 citizens of Azgard Tower, or when you destroy all 100 waves of Creeps. I was surprised to find that nothing special happens after completing 100 levels (which is no small task). In Moregames’ other blockbuster hit, Orions: Legend of Wizards, completing a game earned you an item which was displayed in your trophy room. Something similar in Azgard Defence would have been a nice touch.
Graphics: With its previous games, such as Orions: Legend of Wizards and Enslave, Moregames Entertainment built a reputation for extraordinarily drawn graphics and smooth animation. Azgard Defence did an excellent job of maintaining this legacy with spectacularly drawn graphics.
Simply designing, let alone animating over 20 varieties of Creeps, 15 gun towers and three airship stations is a relatively daunting task. Moregames, however, does not seem to have been deterred in the least by this challenge. Each variety of Creep is well drawn with a significant level of detail. Likewise, each guntower bears unique visual attributes allowing you to easily track your arsenal.
The background and static elements of the game are also finely detailed, giving you a three-dimensional, birds-eye overview of the map. This makes for an extremely enticing environment in which to play. Once again, Moregames has truly impressed me with the attention to detail that went into the graphics and animation in this game.
Audio: Typically, I play games with the audio muted because I tend to test them on the train where you get funny looks from people who can hear your games but cannot see them. Nonetheless, when I write a review, I always make sure to play it at least one time at home with the audio on (for obvious reasons). I must say that as good as this game is, I was sorely disappointed by the music and sound effects.
The background music in a game should compliment the actions and the graphics, drawing you deeper into the game by enriching the environment. Although the music was not unenjoyable, it seemed disconnected from the game itself. It did not contribute to the sense of urgency that a marauding band of Creeps barreling toward your treasured towar should inspire.
Similarly, the in-game audio seemed almost like an afterthought. Rather than powerful guns and explosions, the sound effects felt like the pops and clicks of a 1980′s era tank battle game. Frankly, I felt like these sound effects did a disservice to this game, making it sound almost comical in nature. I hope that the sound effects will continue to improve in future releases of this game.
Creeps: Creeps are the primary enemies of Azgard. Their sole lot in life is to destroy Azgard Tower and all of its citizens. Although Creeps are exceptionally dangerous, they are not particularly intelligent creatures. They will stop at no end to serve their purpose of destroying their tower, even ignoring blazing infernoes and blasting gun towers all around them. They attack as a cluster, in hivelike hordes, attacking as a group, rather than individual creatures. Thus, if one is destroyed or injured, it will have no effect on the progress of the remaining members of the wave. A timer at the top of the screen will tell you how much time you have before the next wave of Creeps will appear. In higher levels, this timer may expire before you completely defeat the previous wave of Creeps, meaning the new wave can overlap the previous wave.
There are over 20 different varieties of Creeps, however, now two varieties will ever join together. The 20 varieties fall into two primary categories: Land Creeps and Air Creeps. This is an important distinction because the towers you use to defend against the Creeps will affect Land and Air Creeps differently.
As you progress through some of the higher levels, you will encounter Creeps with special abilities such as faster, stronger, heavy (extra strong but slow moving), or even Creeps who are immune to shots from certain types of towers.
Despite all of their abilities, one thing the Creeps will not do is fight back. Their sole purpose is to advance through the maze and destroy Azgard Tower. They will not acknowledge the massive guns firing all around them in any way. I think it would add a significant element of difficulty if the Creeps could fight back, allowing them to destroy your towers or even destroy the walls on which they are built (meaning no additional towers could be built there). This would require you to make extremely difficult decisions about using your limited resources. Would you repair or rebuild a damaged tower or let it be destroyed and build a new one in a new location? This would also help to ensure that once you have reached the higher levels, the game does not "play itself" while you watch on the sidelines.
Towers and Airships: Your main level of defense against the marauding Creeps are gun towers and airship stations. There are 12 different towers and 3 airship stations which can be built throughout the game.
At the beginning, you can build a basic airship station (which launches a bomb dropping zeppelin overhead of the Creeps’ path) and three basic towers (shown in the screen shot above). Each tower has different firepower and abilities. Some fire fast, weak shots, while another may fire more slowly, but with a heavier round. Most importantly, however, the gun tower will fire only at ground targets while wind tower will fire only at air targets. The archery tower will fire at both.
As you accumulate additional resources, you will be able to upgrade each of these towers to more powerful towers (sometimes you will even have the choice of upgrading to one of two different towers.) Be sure to carefully read the description of the upgraded tower. It is not just a more powerful version of the existing tower, you are replacing the old tower with a new one, which could have significantly different traits and characteristics. This means where the old tower might have been effective against air creatures, the new one might only attack ground creatures, requiring you to completely realign your defenses.
In addition to upgrading a tower, you can also increase the level of any tower. Increasing the level of the tower keeps the same tower in place, but increases its range, damage caused, and rate of fire.
I liked the fact that there was a great deal of strategy involved with determining the best arrangement for your towers, and whether it was best to build a new tower, level up an existing tower, or completely upgrade the tower. Again, I would have liked it if the Creeps attacked the towers, adding damage and destruction to this equation. This would add an additional strategic element of existing towers which would require resources to be repaired.
Furthermore, once I got into the game I found that 15 structures to build is not a lot for 100 levels of play. I would like to see a significant expansion in the number of available levels in future versions of the game.
Money: In order to build, increase levels, or upgrade a tower, you will need money. Money is earned throughout the game by killing Creeps and surviving waves. Each time you kill a Creep, you will earn one coin. Additionally, each time you survive a wave, you will earn money equal to 5% of your existing total, as well as a predetermined wave bonus. In the more difficult games, you will start with less money and earn less for each wave bonus, making it more difficult to increase your arsenal.
Level Editor: This is the type of game that really lends itself to the creation of custom levels. Apparently, I am not the only person to realize this, because Azgard’s Defence includes an excellent custom level editor. You begin with a blank slate, containing only your tower and the Creep entrance (both of which can be repositioned.) You determine the look and feel of the maze. Will you have large structures on which to build towers, or small outposts? Will there be a lot of foliage which acts as a barrier, but cannot be built upon? You can even determine the path the Creeps will follow through your maze. You can create up to 20 different custom levels, which can then be used as maps for full games of Azgard Defence alongside the existing library of games. I thoroughly enjoyed this option and have already begun experimenting with creating various new layouts.
Saving: One of the most important features in any game I play is also the most frequently overlooked. Many games view the save feature as an afterthought, if it is included at all. As such, I was extremely happy to see the save feature prominently displayed in the menu in Azgard Defence. There are five save slots which can be used at any time during any game. With 20 built-in games and 20 custom games to be created however, I found five save slots to be an unnecessarily small number. It would be more helpful to have a separate set of save slots option for each of the 40 games. That way, you could have several games ongoing at the same time without worrying about overwriting any of your previously saved games.
Additionally, when you choose to save a game, the menu simply gives you a choice of the five slots. It does not indicate whether any of them already have a game saved. It would be nice if the used slots would tell you the game and level which was already saved there, so that you would know what games you are overwriting. Nonetheless, I thoroughly appreciated the fact that the game can easily be saved at any time, even in the middle of a level.
High Scores: Azgard Defence contains a well designed high score table. While maintaining the theme and graphics of the game, it records your highest completed level and score for all 40 games. Like I said, however, I do think there should be some kind of a notation or award presented each time you win a game by completing level 100.
Conclusion: I am really not sure what I have left to say at this point except that Azgard Defense is one of the most enjoyable and addictive games I have ever played. I just can’t get enough of blasting away at those obnoxious little Creeps. The game does an excellent job of starting with a few easier waves of Creeps and becoming progressively more difficult as you reach the higher levels. I would, however, have liked the Creeps to be more interactive. It would have been fun to see how this game could progress if the Creeps could fight back and destroy your gun towers, or if they could follow multiple different paths through a particular level, rather than always following the same path. This would significantly add to the difficulty of the game. That minor point aside, this is one of the best games I have played on my pocket PC. Between Azgard Defence and Orion: Legend of Wizards, which I reviewed earlier, I am eagerly anticipating Moregames’ next foray into the Pocket PC gaming arena.
Name: Azgard Defence
Platform: WM 2003 SE
Also Available: WM5
Developer: Moregames Entertainment
Available From: Moregames Entertainment