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Lock's Quest brings the popular Desktop Tower Defense PC game to the DS. Following on from their innovative drawing action game Drawn to Life DS, this game extends their reputation for solid gameplay and innovative controls.
Real time strategy games present the player with a resource rich environment and task them with developing encampments and units more effectively than their enemies. Once created, troops can usually be arranged into groups and directed in real time.
When the player directs an encounter to take , place the comparative stats of vehicles, characters and current landscape are used to calculate the winner. Forest usually makes you harder to hit, whilst tanks do more damage than infantry.
Because of these game's requirement for fast decisions from the player they were originally the preserve of the mouse and keyboard setup of the PC. More recently, intelligent control systems have brought them to home consoles and handhelds.
Lock's Quest is something of an homage to a very popular game on the PC - Desktop Tower Defense. As such it adopts many innovations and creative play ideas that the original game brought to the Real Time Strategy (RTS) genre. The focus here is on simplicity, something that suites both the DS and its more casual audience.
Whereas full RTS's (even the tangential Viva Pinata: Trouble in Paradise 360) you have to micro manage resources, offence and defense; here the action is split into distinct phases. First there is the Build phase where you set out your stall of castle walls and defensive devices such as traps and cannon towers. Second there is the Battle phase where an onslaught of enemies tries to destroy what you have just built. Finally there is the Repair phase where you prepare your ailing encampment for the next battle. That in a nutshell is pretty much it.
On top of this, Lock's Quest introduces a narrative and the ability to control your character while the battles are unfolding. This, to some extent, enables you to help defend a particular section of wall or to perform on the spot repairs. It's a novel idea and one that gives opportunity for some touch screen mini-games. The player is tasked with counting and gesture activities that are rewarded with bonus attacks and faster repairs.
Playing Lock's Quest is something of a revelation to strategy fans. The phased approach to gameplay lends a strategic feel to proceedings. As you construct your defenses you develop a real sense of ownership over them, something that makes the ensuing battle all that more nail biting.
This simplicity is balanced excellently with the increasing technology tree that grants an ever wider choice of defensive and offensive options. Planning and constructing a perfect castle, and seeing that stand strong against the attacking hoards is one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming.
Even though it is quite simple, Lock's Quest takes quite a bit of time to play. Firstly, the narrative cannot be sped up or skipped so you have a good five to ten minutes reading between each battle. Secondly, the battles themselves are made up of a number of waves of enemy attacks. Add in the time for the build and repair phases mean they can last a good 20 minutes.
The game as a whole is certainly substantial, looking to offer most players a good 20 hours play before the story is completed.
The game relies on some relatively complex strategies, and as such will probably not appeal to super younger players. Those a little older will find more to enjoy, but should be aware that the unskippable story sections do present a relative dark narrative that includes serious injury - although this is always in miniature cartoon form. Players looking for a simpler RTS game may want to consider Viva Pinata: Pocket Paradise DS.
Intermediate players will be more suited to the games nuances of both tactics and design. There is plenty to get their teeth into as the aforementioned technology tree offers up almost endless possibilities.
Experts gamers, particularly those who are familiar with the Tower Defense RTS sub-genre will appreciate the innovations brought to the table here. Not only can you get involved in the unfolding battle, but the various levels bring new and varied tasks to bear. This is no longer pure defense, there are scenarios that task you with recapturing and holding new territories in addition to the usual keeping the enemy at bay.
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