Tower defence games have always been a bit hit and miss for me. Whilst I enjoy the concept, the fact that you’re typically limited to whatever defences you have placed between waves has often left me desiring more control. Enter Fortified – a tower defence game that lets you build your defences but also fight alongside them as you take on a robotic alien race that intends to destroy Earth.
Fortified is set in America during the 1950s; a time synonymous with secret spies, rocket scientists, spacemen and robotic aliens. Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s still what makes up the story of Fortified – an alien race is looking to take over Earth and you play as one of four characters who have to try fighting them off.
You’re not going to get too invested in the storyline – it’s doesn’t try to shy away from the typical clichés you’d expect from a sci-fi alien invasion movie. That being said, there are some cool cutscenes that introduce you to each character and that set up the game’s campaign mode.
The campaign consists of twelve levels that see you defending a rocket from wave after wave of enemies. Before each wave there is a building phase; this gives you the opportunity to set up your defences to protect the rocket from the impending alien attack. The game has a mini-map that shows you where aliens spawn from and what direction they travel in, so you’re given a pretty good indication of where to set up your defences.
Defences come in all sorts of shapes and sizes – Fortified packs in plenty of variety. You have standard turrets, mortars to take out airborne foes, electricity poles to send out an electrical blast or even freezing rays that will… well… freeze your foes. Unlike other tower defence games, Fortified also allows you to place infantry units. You can direct these infantry in battle by having them follow you around, stay in an exact location or even direct them to take on enemies in the distance. It actually gives a sort of RTS feel to the game, adding another dimension to the tower defence/third person shooter hybrid the game already is.
The defences that you have are based on the character you’ve chosen to play as, with each character starting with structures and weapons unique to them. The Captain has access to more troops and fire weapons, the Rocket Scientist specialises in explosives, the Agent has the deadliest weapons and structures that can take down larger enemies whilst the Spaceman has ice and slowing equipment. As you complete levels as each character you’ll gain XP which will allow you to level up and earn all new equipment and weapons – you’ll even be able to unlock structures and weapons for characters that were previously exclusive for a different character. You can upgrade your structures and weapons too, offering more deadly options than the basic counterparts.
Once you’ve set up your defences (which are limited by a cash fund that increases between waves), you then start each wave and take on your alien foe. You have access to two weapons at a time and will want to balance between them both efficiently if you want to survive. One thing I love about Fortified is that your weapon will keep reloading even if you switch to your other weapon during the reload; it doesn’t make sense from a literal point of view, but I didn’t mind when I had a horde of aliens out to get me. There’s a decent variety of weapons to choose from that each have their own primary and secondary fire. You’re able to upgrade your weapons when you level up, offering you a variety of neat additions such as incendiary ammo, freezing ammo or higher damage output. It’s vital that you keep enhancing your gear as the enemies you face keep getting tougher and tougher the further you progress through the game.
Each character has a unique ‘Heroic Power’ that you’re able to access when you’ve filled a power bar. These ‘Heroic Powers’ offer timed special abilities: the Spaceman becomes invulnerable and creates a bubble that will freeze nearby enemies, the Agent becomes invulnerable and deals more damage, the Rocket Scientist is able to fly and becomes invulnerable with unlimited ammo whilst the Captain also becomes invulnerable (notice a pattern here?) but has access to a targeted artillery strike and also buffs all allies. You’ll find these powers useful in the heat of battle – I generally liked to play as the Spaceman during my time with Fortified and the freezing bubble was great when facing a large amount of enemies.
The enemies in Fortified are robotic aliens that wouldn’t look out of place in a sci-fi B movie. They’re a neat foe though and come in all different shapes and sizes, though there’s isn’t much variety in the aesthetic design – it’s all metallic grey. They feel different enough to fight against though and they come out in a large volume, setting up some tense battles as you fight for humanity’s future. Enemies are typically easy enough to take down though – Fortified isn’t really a difficult game. It’s even possible to complete a level without firing your own weapon if you’ve set up your defensive structures efficiently.
Levels do become more difficult as you progress though with wave counts increasing and more rockets to protect. Still, it’ll never be unbearable and you should complete most levels without too much fuss. There are two extra difficulty levels that add to the challenge, though they mainly consist of cutting down your preparation time between enemy waves.
Besides the campaign mode, Fortified also features an ‘Invasion’ mode. Admittedly this mode plays out pretty much like the campaign levels but with only three maps to use. Unfortunately this is the only way to gain XP for your character after completing the campaign level – you’re not able to grind the easier campaign maps to boost your character’s level.
The game’s single player is enjoyable enough, but there’s not much to motivate you to keep playing after completing the campaign as one character. Fortunately, the online multiplayer is really fun – especially with a co-ordinated group of friends. You’re able to play through either the campaign or ‘Invasion’ mode, though the campaign offers a greater deal of variety.
To increase the difficulty in multiplayer, the game gives all enemies enhanced health – you’ll have to co-ordinate with your team mates if you’re going to take down the bullet-sponge enemies. Fortunately, you’ll also have up to four times the amount of defensive structures to help you out. You don’t have to worry about someone picking your favourite character class either (I’m looking at you Rainbow Six Siege) – the game allows players to use the same class, so a team of four Spacemen is possible!
I lost hours playing through multiplayer – it surprising how much it managed to hook me in. The game’s concept is simple, yet the developers have offered so many different possibilities with the varieties of structures and weapons on offer that each game I played managed to feel exciting each time.
Still though, there’s a lack of variety in the maps aesthetics resulting in things looking a little samey at times. It’s always just constantly buildings; a few more open spaces or a bit of greenery would’ve spiced things up a little.
Fortified can only be seen as a success – it’s a competent at being both a tower defence game and a third person shooter. I’ll admit that the single player can be a bit of a drag after you’ve played through the fairly short campaign once, but the multiplayer will keep you coming back for more. When I had a group of friends playing with me it was some of the best fun I’ve had in a multiplayer game in awhile, offering intense battles that do take a fair bit of strategic planning if you’re going to succeed. It isn’t a flawless game, especially with its lack of variety, but I’d still recommend fans of multiplayer gaming give Fortified a try.
– Fantastic multiplayer action
– Decent weapon and structure choice
– Each class feels unique and enjoyable to play as
– The single player modes are a little underwhelming
– A lack of variety in level designs