Red Invasion Tower Defense from Milkstone Studios is surprisingly one of the few good tower defense games on the Xbox LIVE Indie Games channel. It feels a lot like an old Command & Conquer game (which is a good thing) and even has music reminiscent of C&C: Red Alert.
I have always been a fan of tower defense games because your success in them is determined by strategic thinking and forward planning rather than just raw skill and reaction time. Red Invasion Tower Defense takes strategy one step further by forcing you to use energy towers if you want to earn money from any enemies you kill. The energy towers have to be strategically placed precisely where you expect to kill the highest number of foes so that you can accumulate as much energy as possible without having to build too many towers. The energy then needs to constantly be harvested from each energy tower throughout the game to earn money.
The energy system is a good innovation because it keeps you constantly engaged in the gameplay. Rather than just sitting back watching your towers wreck stuff, you have to monitor energy accumulation and harvest it before the tower is full (otherwise you might miss out on gathering some precious, precious energy).
There are a total of 30 levels in the game, split into three different “worlds.” To unlock the next world, you need to earn a certain number of stars in the world before it. Each level has a total of three stars to earn, sort of like Angry Birds. Completing mission objectives earns you more stars. Just passing the level will typically earn you only one star so you have to keep an eye on the bonus objectives as well.
Like most tower defense games, there are a variety of enemies thrown at you including fast moving trucks, planes, blimps, and heavily armored tanks. The occasional juggernaut-esque boss wave will also test the effectiveness of your defensive setup from time to time.
There are of course a variety of towers to deploy as well, each having a specific strength and weakness. The cannon tower, for example, is good against heavily armored enemies because of its high damage output but it sucks against fast movers due to its slow rate of fire. Towers can also be upgraded after they earn enough experience points. The upgrade process is instant, so during each wave you’ll want to always be on the lookout for upgradable towers and hit them as soon as you can afford them. This further keeps you engaged in the game.
Supply drops also serve to spruce the game up a little bit. You’ll periodically get reinforcements sent you to such as a tactical nuke, air strike, or EMP blast. These can really save your butt and could mean the difference between enemies overrunning you or your defenses holding fast.
Red Invasion Tower Defense only costs 80 Microsoft Points to download. The lengthy campaign provides hours of gameplay and it is definitely a game that any tower defense fan will want to buy.