Ready to burst someone's bubble?
If you're a fan of the tower-defense genre, it's likely you've already sampled the delights of the Bloons TD series. Combining some seriously satisfying tower-defense gameplay with the sort of cartoonish charm found in the Super Monkey Ball series, it's become the dominant franchise in this busy corner of the App Store.
As the name of this new game suggests, Bloons TD Battles takes the focus away from level after level of regular but tightly designed defensive gameplay, and zeroes in on real world battling. A brief tutorial aside, there's no AI component to this latest Bloons game. Instead, you'll be going head to head against players from around the world.
The actual gameplay itself is very familiar, however. Across each map, you place your static defensive units - dart-firing monkeys, multi-directional tack shooters, long-range sniper monkeys and so on. As waves of balloons descend upon the map and travel along a fixed, winding path, these defensive units automatically try to pop them - as long as they're in range, that is. Should a balloon reach the end-point of the path, you'll lose a little bit of life.
So those are the basics, but how does this all translate into a multiplayer experience? Well, there are two modes to tackle. In the first, Assault Mode, you not only have to balance your economy so as to maintain your defenses, you'll also need to factor in the cost of sending out a steady stream of balloons to give your opponent something to worry about. If that all sounds like a little too much micromanagement for your liking, you can choose the Defensive Mode, where each player simply attempts to survive an endless - and increasingly difficult - series of balloon waves. The last man standing wins.
Whichever mode you choose, its a really fresh and fun experience. Assault is by far and away the trickier of the two modes, as you maintain one eye on your opponent's base-building strategy, while frantically keeping your own affairs in order. Defensive Mode perfectly compensates for this tension however, and is a great way to enjoy a more relaxing and social take on the game. You still have to manage tower placement and upgrades, but it provides a little more of the simple fun that other games in the series have delivered so consistently.
For all this refreshing fun, there are a few negatives to this new take on the Bloons franchise, however. An energy system prevents you from enjoying too many rounds of gameplay in any one session, although you can watch some promotional videos or hit the in-app purchase store if you're not inclined to wait for it to recharge. The Medallion currency, awarded after victory in battle or purchased from the IAP store, can also be used to enhance your units. Sure, you can eventually grind these out from gameplay alone, but it leaves the battlefield feeling a little uneven in the short term.
Bloons TD Battles likely isn't what purist fans of the series would have asked for, but at this stage in the franchise's life it's probably time for something other than more of the same - however enjoyable the existing single-player games have been up until now. It's the classic gameplay remodeled for a different sort of audience, then, and even IAP quibbles can't take too much of the shine off the predictably outstanding gameplay to be found here.
What's Hot:Classic Bloons TD gameplay given a fresh and welcome multiplayer twist.
What's Not:The in-app purchases and energy system may seem inevitable for this sort of game, but that's still a bit of a shame.