Love tower defense? Love Star Wars? Then the new game from THQ, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth, is absolutely for you. Not a fan of either? Then you will probably want to take your $2.99 someplace else. The game does provide a few good hours of semi-mindless fun, but many will get the ‘seen one, seen ‘em all’ feeling, and true Star Wars fans might be left unfulfilled.
There are 15 levels that can be played in either classic or fortress style and in easy or normal difficulty settings. As each level is passed, it is unlocked and playable at any time from the level selector screen on the menu.
The startup menu greets you with original Star Wars music and cut scenes from ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ (Episode II or V or whatever they call it now) will take you from level to level or send you off if you fail. Warning: you may get sick of these as there are only so many Hoth scenes to choose from before they are repeated. In game music is good, but not actual SW soundtrack which is disappointing.
There are also a variety of units to play as (Rebels) and fight against (Empire) including AT-AT and AT-ST Walkers, X-Wing and Tie Fighters, Stormtroopers, Ion Cannons (Hint: fully upgraded IC’s kick serious booty) and those creepy floating robots that Han Solo sniped after it had spied on the Rebel Base.
For those who like to micro-manage their forces, you can use the target control feature to select who you want your units to attack. Also, and more subtle, is the fast forward feature that is priceless for those who like to game in increments of minutes, not hours.
To actually play the game is very similar to other tower defense games you have probably played. Place your units strategicly around the battle field and wait as wave after wave of Empire forces try to take you down and get past you. Let too many past you and you lose. After you defeat a group of units, a green wrench will pop up. Collect this to get more money to buy units. Wait too long and it will turn yellow, then red- each consecutive color decreasing your financial gain. A somewhat hidden feature is the ability to touch two wrenches at the same time which increases your combined gain by a factor of 1.5.
Easy is too easy and normal is rather difficult, but most will find the right level of challenge with a little bit of practice.
The biggest thing this game has going for it is in the title. Star Wars may be the most popular franchise of all time, and that alone packs a big punch. Anything with AT-AT walkers is going to catch a lot of people’s attention.
There are enough levels and features to keep you playing for quite some time. The additional features such as ‘Fortress’ mode and the Unit Dictionary are nice and unexpected touches. The Star Wars Theme music on startup will get certain people very excited. There are enough units and options within game play to make it feel somewhat like a strategy game sometimes.
Of all of the planets in the Star Wars Universe, Hoth is only more interesting than Tatooine, and that may be a toss up. We get it, Hoth has snow.
Also, if you are going to make a Star Wars game, how can you leave it completely and totally devoid of anything resembling Jedi? I understand that Jedi don’t necessarily shoot things, but Luke took down a four-legged walker all by his lonesome. Plus, a Jedi could just stand there and pulse isotropic waves of awesomeness. Star Wars without the force is akin to peanut butter without jelly.
You may feel, as I did, that if they went this far to make a tower defense game, why not make a RTS and competed in a less crowded market?
If you are one of those ‘I will purchase anything that says Star Wars on it’, nothing will stop you from getting this. And that isn’t to say that it won’t be worth getting. But if you have never heard of Hoth, don’t know what an X-Wing is, or have never played or played too many tower defense games… well, then this isn’t the droid you are looking for.