Tower defence games are two-a-penny in the current gaming climate, with everyone ranging from mod teams to indie developers and major studios all chipping in with their take on the genre. With this genre, what started off with a top down pure strategy game, is spreading its’ wings and moving into new areas, be it by moving into the first person perspective or by becoming a Facebook game to mobile titles.
It is becoming such a popular genre to release in that I fear it is going to lead to numerous games falling by the wayside and disappearing into obscurity. I fear that Guns of Icarus will be one such title, for while it has an appealing dynamic it lacks the refinement of some of the more heavily developed titles.
Guns of Icarus puts you in the boots of a young airship pilot who takes his zeppelin from town to town fighting off marauding pirates in a desperate attempt to protect his precious cargo. Your ship has six gun emplacements, one at the front and one at the back with two on each side giving you ample scope to scour the skies for the bandits which are trying to destroy you.
There is a bit of a logic fail in that respect, for if the pirates were to destroy your ship they wouldn’t be able to get their grubby hands on your cargo, and when you do ‘die’ there isn’t a sense that they board your ship to steal your goods. It doesn’t really affect the game as such, but it does make you stop to wonder why they are so intent on taking you down.
Regardless of the reasons for their attacks, it is your job to protect your ship and get it to your next town without being destroyed and by ensuring you arrive with as much cargo remaining as possible. Keeping a healthy level of cargo on board is essential if you want to survive the more challenging levels. When you arrive in a town you are able to upgrade your weapons or get some armour, but what you get all depends on how much cargo you arrive with.
Your weapons of choice range from a standard gatling gun, which provides a nice rate of fire directly at where you aim your reticule, to a rocket launcher which chooses an enemy ship to follow. In some towns you can even upgrade to a tesla device, with a bit of charging this shoots off great lances of electricity at several pirate ships if they are grouped together. This is the most visually rewarding weapon and one you will definitely want to try.
There is a good variety to the weapons, some are better at short range whilst others are better at longer distances. The different strengths and weaknesses add a level of tactical intrigue, deciding which ones to take on your mission and where to position them can be the difference between getting to your target with all your cargo or perishing in a flaming wreck.
You aren’t solely focused on destroying those pesky pirates, any good pilot knows that keeping their airship intact and working well is of the utmost importance. As such you have to keep an eye on how much damage your engines have taken to maintain a good flying speed along with your airframe and the zeppelin itself.
On the more challenging levels you will find yourself busily rushing from one point of your ship to the other, madly trying to find a balance between keeping your machine flying and destroying the pirates. The campaign allows you to choose your route though so if you don’t fancy a hard fight you can always take the easy option. At the end of a campaign you take part in a last stand where certain doom awaits.
It is a shame that after completing a sequence of missions once, you don’t really feel enamoured to starting again with the basic weapons and simply take a different route to your eventual death. Tie this in with limited graphical wizardry and an empty co-op scene and you are left with a game which is fun for one play through of an hour, but little else. There is potential and it is much more enjoyable if you are able to find a friend to play with, and it is nice to know that a sequel is in the works, but Guns of Icarus fails to convince me about the overall experience, even at its’ low asking price.
MLG Rating: 5/10
Platform: PC Release Date: 12/05/11
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a digital copy of Guns of Icarus for review purposes . The title was reviewed over the course of one weeks on a PC. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.