The benefits of Indie games on the Xbox is that no matter how closely you follow the media for games releases, there is always something that will come in under your radar. McDroid just so happens to be one of those titles. Released previously on PC, this action tower defence game has now made its way over to consoles.
McDroid the titular spider-like repair/farming robot returns home to planet M aboard his AI shuttle, Luigi, to find that Planet has fallen silent and the world has been invaded by various aggressive creatures intent on destroying everything in sight. In order to restore Planet, McDroid must venture out and restore the Planets flower hearts in order to heal Planet.
While McDroid ticks all of the generic Tower defence boxes, with various armaments and defences that can be placed to placate the waves of enemies intent on destroying you and your shuttle, it does have some unique mechanics to bring into the mix. Aside from the “turret” docks littered around the level, McDroid can also equip an item, be it a weapon, or even a “bliss engine” which powers up nearby devices and protects from environmental elements that can damage you. He can also take direct control of any turrets in his direct proximity, allowing you to focus multiple attacks on specific targets. Alongside this ability, McDroid is extremely handy at repairs, and standing in close proximity to either the placed defences or the shuttle itself allows him to restore health to either.These defences are all purchased by charging up Luigi with power, derived from strawberries grown throughout the battle arena, and it also allows you to upgrade and modify existing structures. Defeated enemies occasionally drop resources which can be used to fertilise key areas to increase your strawberry yield, making each battle a constant balancing act between collecting and developing more resources and putting up the best defence possible to defeat successive waves.
These defences are all purchased by charging up Luigi with power, derived from strawberries grown throughout the battle arena, and it also allows you to upgrade and modify existing structures. Defeated enemies occasionally drop resources which can be used to fertilise key areas to increase your strawberry yield, making each battle a constant balancing act between collecting and developing more resources and putting up the best defence possible to defeat successive waves.
As you progress through the game, you will collect diamonds which act as upgrade currency that you can use at the R&D area to unlock new upgrades not only to your defences but also for Luigi and McDroid also. These can range from attached bliss engines on Luigi’s hull, increased armour for McDroid to survive more enemy attacks, or even a repair arm allowing Luigi to return the favour and fix up McDroid when the need arises.
The game is extremely hectic from the first moment you enter a zone, and it does give you a quite concise introduction to most of the mechanics vying for your attention at any given moment. As you control McDroid and roam the battlefield, you will sometimes have to make the decision to retreat back to the safety of your defences, push forward to collect those required upgrade resources, which decay over time and are lost if not recovered, or to stand with specific defensive positions to reinforce and repair as needed. With such a simple system, there is still an incredible amount of depth to be delved with so many options available on the upgrade tree.
McDroid use of cel-shading gives it a cute and colourful style, that is accompanied surprisingly well by the heavy guitar soundtrack used throughout. Luigi is able to actually speak and acts as the default narrator for your story while McDroid’s vocalisation with somewhat incoherent mechanical babbling can be somewhat off-putting at times. Couple this with an increasingly bizarre story and a sentient planet, and you will without a doubt find yourself scratching your head as you try to work out what exactly is going on.
McDroid’s main campaign will easily see you devote 20+ hours to completion, but as if that were not enough, you also unlock challenge modes and arenas as you progress, which will test all of your skills to the maximum. Several early arenas are extremely difficult to accomplish using the items you originally have unlocked, and require you to go away and unlock further abilities in order to stand a chance against some of the beefed up and overwhelming enemies that you will face in these modes. As far as bang for your buck goes, McDroid certainly provides a great deal of content for its price.
There is very little I could say is wrong with McDroid. Some of the difficulty spikes are frustrating, and I did have to replay some levels in order to unlock specific structures that allowed me to complete the difficult level, and unfortunately, the voice used for the R&D information and upgrade pickups that you find is jarring. Some of you may have experimented with computer voice generation at some point in the past, and while some words and phrases can be iterated phonetically by a computer, there are some intonations that a computer just cannot get right. This monotone, almost simple pronunciation can be extremely distracting and awkward.
Overall, McDroid is a competent, enjoyable tower defence title with a few unique twists, and although it does become repetitive towards the end there is sufficient substance to the gameplay to make this issue negligible.