Review: Savage Moon

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As Mike mentioned in his Defense Grid review last year, tower defense games have seen quite the resurgence of late, with the genre finding a particularly comfy home on the PS3 via the PlayStation Network led by the fan favorite PixelJunk Monsters. Now early into 2009, the PSN tower defense lineup has been bolstered even more by FluffyLogic’s Savage Moon.

But does Savage Moon have sturdy enough defenses to stand up to its competitors?

Unfortunately, I have to say that no, it doesn’t. That’s not to say Savage Moon is somehow a poor game, because I assure you it is not. Actually, it’s a very solid all-around game that looks, sounds and plays quite well. The problem is it simply doesn’t have that defining feature or fresh sense of originality to distinguish it as anything more than a ho-hum tower defense game.

Savage Moon plays like any other tower defense game before it. You’re tasked with defending a series of moon mining facilities from timed waves of attacking enemies – in this game’s case a ravenous alien race known as Insectocytes. Each map is laid out like a maze or ant farm with different enemy spawn points placed around the edge of the landscape and multiple pathways winding through the terrain leading to your base. Your job is simple: plan out a defense strategy to repel the Insectocytes by placing weapon turrets around the map. As Insectocytes are exterminated you earn resources to purchase different types of turrets, upgrade existing turrets and research new defense technologies to bolster your arsenal as the attack waves grow more and more formidable.

Turret and enemy types come in a wide variety, which is certainly a good thing. Machine guns, lasers, mortars, anti-air missiles and more are at your disposal to combat the various air and land based creepy crawlies of the Insectocyte race, and the best part is studying the enemy and figuring out which turret type works best against each creature type. Overall I’d say the game is balanced extremely well.

Planning out defense strategies handles well with a PS3 controller thanks to a clean and intuitive interface, and for the most part the camera is easy to keep where you need it to be. Turret AI, on the other hand, is a bit sketchy. Most of the time turrets shoot what you want them to shoot, but quite often they fail to hold focus and finish off their initial target before pinpointing another. It’s incredibly frustrating to lose a mission because a few weakened enemies that should have been killed off manage to slip by.

Savage Moon makes the strongest case yet as to why all PSN titles should launch with a trial version. News of a demo was supposed to be coming, but as of this moment it has yet to materialize, and without availability of a demo the choice here becomes pretty cut and dry: should you sink $10 into the game and hope you like it or save your dollars for PSN content you know you’ll get your money’s worth from? Savage Moon is a competent tower defense game that staunch genre fans will likely enjoy, but with such a generic sci-fi style, no real standout feature, and better like-genre games such as PixelJunk Monsters already available, I suggest you sit this one out for now and hope that a demo surfaces real soon.

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Pros:
+ Core tower defense fundamentals are solid
+ Well-balanced turret and enemy variety
+ Intuitive interface

Cons:
– Sketchy turret AI
– Bland, generic sci-fi setting
– Brings nothing new to the genre

Game Info:
Platform: PS3 via PSN
Publisher: SCEA
Developer: FluffyLogic
Release Date: 1/29/09
Genre: Tower Defense Strategy
ESRB Rating: Teen
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!