If nothing else, Futuremark definitely knows how to create games with style. Primarily a company that makes benchmarking programs it proved with its first game release, Shattered Horizon, that it definitely knows how to apply the graphics technology as well. However, even with its freeform 360 degree movement and space combat Shattered Horizon failed to build up a strong community, most likely due to the fact that it released as a DX10 only game at a time where adoption of Windows Vista, at the time the only OS with DX10, was uncommon. Itís not surprising then that its next PC game holds back on the high end graphics and targets a wider audience, releasing simultaneously on iPad and Mac as a tower defense game.
Unstoppable Gorg stands out from the crowd by styling itself after 50 sci-fi movies. Everything from the design of the enemies, to the incredulously campy cutscenes between stages, complete with stock footage from various black and white war reports looks like a low budget 50's serial. The stage select is particularly appealing, laid out with documents, photos, and telegram reports of the situation. Shattered Horizon fans may even catch a few tips of the hat to Futuremark's previous effort.
Instead of using a grid based system like most tower defense games, Unstoppable Gorg instead uses a satellite and orbit based system. Towers are replaced by satellites, which are can be set in predefined slots in orbital rings around the location you are defending. By dragging these orbits you can rotate the positions of the satellites and move them to defend various positions. By necessity you'll find yourself tracking groups of enemies along the orbits of the satellites, allowing you to chip away at enemies as they pass. This creates a more involved dynamic than most tower defense games and allows you more flexibility. It also leads to a few frustrations as well. Failing a stage can be due to a combination of picking the wrong towers, placing them in the wrong slots, or not tracking enemies well enough. The problem is finding out which of these is you are doing wrong. Oftentimes you'll find yourself on the brink of victory only to have it taken from you by a single enemy not knowing if you simply didn't track them well enough, or if you picked the wrong towers.
Compounding that frustration is the research system, which becomes integral especially in later stages. In order to earn research points for future stages you need to build at least one research satellite in order to fill your research meter. These points are then allocated at the start of the stage to allow you to build upgraded versions of the satellites. These are crucial since upgraded satellites can carry the weight of multiple satellites easily when used to track enemies. In the latter half of the game however it becomes difficult to both deal with the multiple lanes of enemies while also remembering to protect your fragile research satellites. At this point it becomes simpler to quickly exploit the easier difficulties to earn the research point and then redo the stage on the harder difficulties, which will free up a spot for other satellites and allow you to focus only on defeating enemies and save you a few attempts at retrying as well.
The game hits a difficulty spike around the middle of the campaign as well, starting with a difficult, but enjoyable pace and suddenly becoming more frustrating. At this point trial and error becomes mandatory. It is satisfying to finally beat the stage, but not always enough to wash away the frustration of the many attempts. Some stages also begin and end with simple newspaper shots accompanied by typewriter sound effects, which dampens the reward of watching another campy cutscene.
Unstoppable Gorg's combination of novel mechanics and charming aesthetics hits some sweet spots, but the overall frustrations of the game hold it back. Tower defense junkies will definitely find a good amount of content and entertainment to be found here, and might be a bit more resilient to its problems. If you are a fan of the genre and willing to put up with bouts of trial and error then itís definitely worth picking this one up. For anyone else, this game ends up being a bit of a missed opportunity.
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