Comet Crash Review

By Nelson on October 22, 2009

Comet Crash is a recent addition to the PlayStation Network's library of games. Created by San Francisco based developer Pelfast as their first venture for Sony, Comet Crash is basically a take on the Tower Defence genre, that has become increasingly popular. It's a competitive crowd, and one that takes a unique approach to stand out from - is this what Comet Crash offers?

The game allows players to take control of a space ship as it struggles to eradicate a rival from various maps located on four different comets. The premise is a little bit strange because there's no explanation for what's really happening and why, but it's a very gameplay driven title so it's to be expected. Like most Tower Defence games, players have to create their "towers" to defend their base. However, at the same time they also have to focus on two other aspects: resource gathering and destroying the enemy base.

Levels generally follow a similar pattern. The player starts off with an initial set of resources which are used to set up some basic defences, while the enemy base is usually established already. Then players have to make sure they collect resources by destroying airborne asteroids that cross the map. These can be destroyed as they pass over turrets, and the resources are then collected by flying near them with the spaceship. There is also a magnetic field to collect the resources, which can be increased by collecting blue power ups. This system means that having focus on the overall map as a whole is advantageous as compared to swamping a certain area. On later levels when the enemy is far more aggressive, taking a dive into enemy territory usually involves the spaceship being shot down.

Once a base has been established, the game then kicks into action. Essentially players create panels that will generate units constantly (at no additional cost) into a stockpile. Up to a 1,000 units can be stocked and deployed at the players digression and this makes for an extremely immense amount of objects on screen at any time. It's really impressive, especially because it doesn't cause any frame rate drops or slow down at all, even with laser fire and explosions going off in every direction. Every unit is very unique; there are the basic units which tend to be the proper attacking units; then there are the special ops units which tend to be rather more devious. Their abilities range from stunning, transporting, disabling towers and taking over enemy units. This adds a whole new level of tactility.

Base Defences can be upgraded on the fly for increased range, speed or damage. Upgrading unit producing towers, also changes the type of units produced. The more strategic unit production line, known as Special Ops, allows the production of units tailored for getting around the enemy or hampering them in some form. Each of these units allows for a much more involving gameplay mechanic, as timing is often important when using these Special Units. While the gameplay is relatively challenging and enjoyable to play, there is a rather annoying element present. The AI cannot think for itself, it's all pre-scripted. There is always a set pattern of where it will build towers and how far across the map it will encroach. This usually happens quite early on, and it makes it easy to learn the patterns that the computer will adopt. By focusing on a solid defence it is nearly always impossible to lose. This does take away some of the challenging elements, although of course doing this won't get a very good score and as the game features an online leaderboard there is some reason for trying to do that.

Graphically speaking the game is impressive to look at and extremely well defined for something that's essentially quite simple. Explosions, electrical and laser effects all look very lush, and the sound effects also follow suit. The only thing that really could have used more work was the music. When a level drags on for about 15-30 minutes, listening to the same piece of music does become a tad repetitive. It's a shame, because it's one of the only things that really spoils it. It's rather atmospheric and for a game that involves a high level of action it could have done with a bit more pace to it.

An extremely noteworthy point to mention is the game's multiplayer element. Players can play locally with up to 3 other people. It definitely makes the game a lot more interesting as a human opponent is going to be far more taxing to deal with than the bland AI. Defences can fire on other defences, so unlike fighting against the AI, it's possible to get up close and personal. Base hit points can also be set from 1-100 Hit Points which can make for really epic lengthy battles, as can defending from up to 3 fronts. On top of this, the entire campaign can be played with 2 other players cooperatively. Players work together to defeat the opponent with separate build queues and resource gathering. This is particularly nice as tactically one player can focus on ground assault and defence and another air assault and defence. It's just a shame that these modes are restricted to local play.

Final Thoughts

Comet Crash uses the Tower Defence model extremely well and is a notable addition to the genre. It creates a fun and enjoyable experience, thanks to a combination of good gameplay, and unique levels. No mission feels the same, and players have to adapt frequently as the game progresses. However, the computer's set routines might make the game rather stale and when playing single player, it really detracts from the experience. It becomes a lot more fun when played with others, but unfortunately there is no option for online.

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