Hero Interactive described the inspiration behind their latest game, Star Forge, as follows: "it had to be simple, it had to have a lot of action, a base you can build, and explosions- LOTS of explosions." In a better world, I would have just copy/pasted that quote, posted the link, and called it a day. You can read the rest of my review if you like, but that's all you really need to know about this strategy game that nestles snugly on the line between the general defense and the niche tower defense categories. Don't look for much of a plot, though. You have a base. Some ships want to explode your base. You must explode them first! Ah, simplicity.
The game provides the tutorial as you play, and new options are unlocked gradually, which on the one hand is great because you don't get overwhelmed by too much at once. On the other hand, bad choices you make early on can really hamper you later, so you'll probably want to restart the game at least once keeping later levels in mind. You start out with a base that is only able to build basic towers. You can arrange these towers as you like, but once you put them down, you won't be able to move them at all (except for much later in the game, when you will be able to recycle them). Use the mouse to arrange the towers around your base quickly, because waves of enemies are going to start coming in from all directions. Hopefully, your towers will make short work of them.
As you defeat waves of enemies, you'll progress up in levels, and unlock new kinds of upgrades and abilities. You start with a basic damage and defense upgrade, but soon you'll have the ability to increase range, make your projectiles explosives, slow enemies down, set bombs, heal units, and more. Each tower can take up to six upgrades. You switch your base from producing one kind of upgrade to another by clicking on its button. Your base will keep producing the same thing over and over until you change it to another thing, going by a timer which may be fairly fast (eg heals) or slow (some of the better tower upgrades and late game tower production). That's a good thing, because your enemies are going to get tougher and tougher as well.
You must play the game all in one session; there is no saving mid-game. Your game ends when you beat all the levels or when you die, although you can restart from the level before you died with a high score wipe. The game can get quite processor intensive, so if you have a slower machine you might want to click on the quality control in the lower right. The same area also includes controls for music, sound, and a pause button.
Analysis: Like many defense titles, emotions tend to run between cockiness and sheer panic when playing Star Forge, depending on whether at the moment you're beating the waves back effortlessly and racking up extra upgrades, or frantically hovering over your base waiting for the timer to tick down and screaming at the monitor "I TOTALLY DRAGGED THAT HEAL ON YOU!" as a unit explodes. When you play through the first time, things can really come out of nowhere to devastate you. For example, my first play through, I focused on beefing up a few towers with six slots filled rather than building lots of towers with one or two slots filled. Then the range upgrade was unlocked, and along with it, enemies which settled just out of range and fired on my towers. I couldn't do anything to improve my towers' range because they had all six slots filled, so they were sitting ducks. I was frantically trying to build more towers to upgrade with range and save them, but it took too long and all but one was destroyed by enemies.
I ran into similar "Well, if I had known that was going to happen, I wouldn't have done that!" issues later as well, though none of them were as devastating as that one. So this isn't a game you should expect to beat on the first play, unless you are lucky enough to make the right choice before being given the data that allows you to know it's the right choice. To be fair, I made some right choices by serendipity as well, clustering some units in such a way that I was able to use cluster upgrades that I didn't know were coming the next level.
To a certain extent the fun you have will depend on your personality. If you're the kind of person who likes to play tower defense games like a general in main HQ, analyzing wave data twenty steps ahead and relying totally on planning, this probably isn't your game. On the other hand, if you think a more field marshal kind of war experience sounds more thrilling, with unexpected challenges just making the triumph that much sweeter, and if you take pride in your speed and your ability to change strategies on the fly, Star Forge is going to really suck you in. You'll probably even be crazy enough to play the game again on insane mode, or the appropriately named Awesome mode available only at Armor Games, with your shirt off saying "I love the smell of explosions in the morning!" I, for one, salute you.
Jay, do you suppose you could have the reviewers mention why they rated a game yellow? This would really help to know if I should even give it a try. I realize you tried to avoid giving details, but it would really, really help if the reviewers could give a brief mention of the specific issues that caused them to rate a game. (Basically, even if it is not a 100% complete assessment of the game, it helps to know why it was rated that way.) For example, did they rate it because of foul language, because it has chat/multiplayer options, because of visual scenes, etc...? This could really help in determining if it's even worth giving a try.
[You have a good point. I'll try to enforce that with the reviewers from now on. Thanks for the feedback and suggestion. :) -Jay]
Generally liked the game. Two minor annoyances:
Selecting the right upgrade is difficult. with about a dozen options to choose from you might have to click eleven times to get to the one you want. Unless, of course, you are in too much of a hurry and click once to many times, in which case you need to click twenty-three times. Unless, of course, you are in too much of a hurry again...
Also, the game is a little too long to not have a save feature. But just a little.
Brilliant game for somebody with a fast computer, perhaps.
The lag is dreadful, even at low quality. Being unable to reliably use power-ups when the screen's full of ships is frustrating to the point of unplayability. It's like playing Starcraft with your feet.
Made it to the Anti-Capital weapon.
13 towers, 02374600 points, and no damage to the base yet!
My strategy? plunk down a few ships, fill them up with armor and explosive, and set your base to heal.
Great game for those with fast computers. it gets a bit hectic when you have several capital ships coming from all directions ^-^
@. (the one who asked about the ratings):
I picked rating yellow based on the following JIG guideline for violence: "Yellow :o = mild violence, cartoon or otherwise, but no blood".
For adult situations and language, the game is firmly in the green camp.
Hope this helps!
Very fun game, ended up beating the normal level, wasted a good solid hour on this fun. There were, however, a couple things that bugged me:
- I got into a position where my cadre of guns could sustain itself for a long time, so I stockpiled the heck out of bombs and health. However, it appears that there is only a finite number of items that you can have available at any given time, because I lost most of my cache "randomly." If I had known that, I would have focused on more towers.
- The end is hugely anticlimactic. Don't let this deter you from playing, but "Game Won > Quit Game" is a bit of a downer. Even the flimsiest story would have given me satisfaction. Did I save the galaxy? Did I safely transport a space princess to her space prom? Doesn't matter - just give me something.
- Finally, I think stats would have been way cool and an easy thing to add. How many towers did I build/lose? Ships killed? Bombs launched? "Damage" done? This in itself could be a mini achievement of sorts that would lend satisfaction to a job well done.
But seriously, that was a pretty sweet defense game.
Just won the game with 4,364,300 on normal.
My strategy was:
Eight turrets in a hexgon around my base, with three extra ship-packs just laying around being available. The four primary turrets (N, E, S, W) would get two shield-upgrades first, then I would work on the others (NE, SE, SW, NW) until the explosives-upgrades were available. Packed two per primary then worked on secondary. Then used two sniper-upgrades last.
These eight turrets were never killed until the end.
With regards to the health packs, I made sure that I had at least ten along the side of the window in case an onslaught were to take place; it made me feel cautiously invincible.
The three tertiary turrets I then made were with three sniper-upgrades and three slow-upgrades. These were positioned around my base. Three quaternary turrets were then made to supplement the three areas to the tertiary turrets with five shock-upgrades and one anti-capital-upgrade per quaternary turret.
Boom. Win. It was just really hard to keep up with the health packs, so make sure you keep a good stock of those handy.
My rating of this game is a 8.5 out of 10.0.
I would say this is the best tower defense games out there. Very challenging, yet not impossible. The graphics were heavy even in low resolution as some people have stated, and the lack of a quick-response to upgrades was a hindrance because of the constant reset of resource (time as a resource??) each time the base was clicked.
Maybe make a storyline that can explain why time is a resource that is needed to make turrets, and why it resets. Also, graphics = awesome. Although dumbing it down would make the game faster, it's a trade off because they make the game lag, I say don't change out. It's just a cost of a good quality game.
I have played Star Forge often enough now to always beat the INSANE mode, although I have been unable to do this without using Shock: a goal I gave myself. I am running the game on a newer iMac and at the higher levels on AWESOME (high score 7.9 Million), there is noticeable slow down (50%) for a few seconds. My hats off to the designers on a game well designed. SPOILER: I do not use [ bomb, capital or recycle]
Every time I replay a level, I can't upgrade my towers! Why?