This has probably been my favorite category of the year, there have been so many great ones appear that I've played over and over again. The online market is pretty awash with them, there's hundreds of the things, some of the better ones I've mentioned here.
The thing I love about these is the forward planning involved, the satisfaction of a job well done if everything goes smoothly and also the panic if things start to go wrong. The other great thing is that it's a genre that's all but ignored by the big boys so there's plenty of room for independents to play with new ideas and variations on the theme without the worry about an equivilent big-name-brand muscling in on the market.
So here we go, the top 3 tower defense games of the year:
Plants Vs Zombies review
What a fabulous idea, I wasn't sure when I saw the first trailer for it, but when the music video was released I was totally sold on the concept!
Apart from the characterisation there was also a big change in the game dynamic. Rather than having a single path that the enemies rush through, they created 5 lanes where zombies shuffled down towards your house. You could place plants on these tracks they will attack the approaching horde.
So new take on the genre plus great music plus cartonish graphics equals a win and something that everyone should give a go! They have a free online demo here so no excuses!
Creeper World review
This was easily one of my favourite independent releases of the year. The concept of area control rather than the bottlenecking that happens in most tower defense games was refreshing and linking this to resource gathering worked really well.
The idea was that a plasma like compound approaches from several spawn points, spreading slowly across the landscape getting temporarily held up as it fills holes and canyons. Protecting your base and gaining energy is usually the first important job because if the creep touches your base it's game over.
Recently this has had a few interesting updates such as a level editor and a free online version.
Defense Grid: The Awakening
Defense grid is a far more traditional tower defense game. Levels (ignoring the fantastic non-gameplay scenery) are made up of grids where you can place towers. As with other traditional tower defense titles you can also influence the path that the enemies take as they approach.
Again in difference to the previous two titles mentioned, and more like a traditional tower defense game: towers can be upgraded, resources are gained by destroying enemies and if you try to cheat (eg, not supply a path for the enemies to traverse) the computer will cheat back!
But the best thing about Defense Grid was it's presentation from it's wonderful 3D graphics to the great voice acting.
And the winner is:
Nope, can't do it. I can't pick one - they're all awesome in their own rights and I still have all 3 installed and play them on a regular basis.
What? I've got to pick one?
Well if I really, really, really had to it would probably be Plants Vs Zombies with Creeper World being a close second. They pushed the boundries of the genre as well as keeping it entertaining, while Defense Grid was a very strong example of the classic tower defense genre it wasn't anything fresh.