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Savage Moon (PS3)

Savage Moon (PS3)


The Playstation store has been home to many addictive titles throughout the last year such as Wipeout HD and The Last Guy. FluffyLogic and Sony Computer Entertainment have released a title in the tower defense genre entitled Savage Moon. While this is similar in nature to PixelJunk’s Monsters there are some gameplay issues which somewhat ruin the strategic element of the game.

The story of the game is rather straightforward; Earth’s resources are depleted and humanity has spread across the galaxy on the hunt for replacement resources. Finally, mineral rich asteroids called Imoons are found and these can help humanity to survive in their darkest hour. Unfortunately there is a problem as the humans start their mining operations – there are hostile alien creatures called Insectocycles who try to kill all living creatures they encounter. You, as commander of mining operations have to establish a defensive system to repel these attacks before the alien monsters can destroy your base of operations and kill everyone in it.

To stop these waves of attacks you have to place towers in different locations to kill the creatures as they trundle to your base. There are two kinds of towers, attack and support which initially prove to be rather weak. You can divert funds into research and quickly improve your arsenal to research further emplacements such as mortars, repair towers and laser towers. All of these towers can be enhanced a maximum of five further times to end up extremely formidible weapons of destruction. There are three conditions when it comes to towers in Savage Moon however they can only be placed on flat or rocky terrain in the environments. Placing them on flat ground means they are easily attacked by crawling monsters. All these towers can only be positioned if you have acquired enough funds from destroyed bugs to buy them and if you have enough drop pods to specify what kind of tower you want. At the end of each wave, you receive a new set of pods to reinforce your positions which allows you to slowly and steadily build up your defenses against the hordes of creatures intent on destroying your base. After you complete a stage you unlock that level in “Vengeance Mode” which is a neverending wave of monsters who continue to appear, until you die.

Savage Moon also adds two further aspects, which are called Command Skills. These allow slight adjustments to defense, attack and income chains. For example if you require more money to purchase additional towers or you wish to enhance your research you can alter the mechanic to improve the Credit Bonus which will increase your income. Equally so, altering the Weapon Bonus improves firepower and damage with every tower on the battlefield. The Armor Bonus means that the towers gain extra protection against attacks and able to stand tall within the fierce alien onslaught. You are given the option to select one of the skills for a large bonus within the category or you can merge a mixture of two for a medium boost. The Savage Moon game mechanic means you can also advance the next wave of alien attack to receive a bonus.

The aliens are nicely rendered and there is good variety, from the lesser swarmers and Soldiers to the huge Flying Queens and Tanks. Some aliens later on even have long range attacks which can do serious damage to your tower emplacements. The aliens even show some signs of intelligence and alter their movement patterns to try and take advantage of any strategic weaknesses in your defenses.

The game plays well, for the most part, however there are some issues which detract from the strategy elements. The first thing to mention are the anti air defenses which can sometimes prove to be ineffective against some of the alien movement patterns, as they skirt the perimeter of the environment.

If this was the only issue it would be forgivable however the turrets don’t always handle as you would expect. Many times a turret will damage an alien to almost death then move onto another full strength one, leaving the injured alien to progress further into perhaps weakened parts of your layout. Obviously leaving enough resources to lay a few more turrets later in the environment can deal with this, but the towers are frequently rather stupid in their actions which becomes frustrating. There are also times when a turret will stop firing and seemingly scan the environment for another target when aliens are clearly in the vicinity and need to be dealt with. Laser towers are a waste of money for instance as they fire so slowly regardless of their improvement level.

It would be a nice option to have direct control over the towers to override their simple AI instruction sets, however once placed you have no control over how they tackle the enemy onslaught which will lead to much shouting in frustration at the screen.

During my gameplay I stumbled upon a strategy which allows the game to be basically completed without a great deal of strategic effort. If you spend money researching the Amp tower and place a few offensive towers in its range, as well as a repair tower this configuration is capable of destroying any alien configuration. The Amp towers are towers which greatly enhance the attack strength of any other tower nearby and unfortunately I feel the game play testing was not researched enough to balance out this issue. The only thing you need to work out is the position in which to place these towers, so normally a failed level playthrough is required before the successful strategy is learned for the particular level.

Visually the game is rather attractive and quite an improvement over other tower games such as Monsters. The aliens are well detailed and the environments are diverse in nature which means that every level has a particular styling which aids the long term playability.

The attention to detail continues throughout the environments, as the surfaces become charred and blackened after attacks and the insect blood stains the various rock and hill formations. The interface is also nicely designed as the menu system and corresponding options are easily navigated. The only complaint with the interface is tied into the game camera system, which doesn’t allow you to control it in any useful manner. As there is also no mini map this can lead to a few visibility issues on the more demanding levels later in the game.

On an audio level the game is impressive with some great ambient sound effects and explosion effects to create a well rounded sonic experience.

Savage Moon is a decent game which many people will get a lot of enjoyment with. As a tower defense experience however it falls short of titles such as Defense Grid: The Awakening and can end up unbalanced if you exploit the Amp towers incredible abilities. That said, if you fancy playing a game on the PSN store for a few days then you could do much worse.



Turret issues lower the score. With some tweaking it could have been a must have.
Decent graphics for a PSN title, but nothing really out of the ordinary.
Nice sound effects add some tension and suspense to the game.
Vengeance mode enhances long term playability, but after a week I doubt anyone would still be playing.

A nice distraction for a while and reasonably priced. Just a little disappointing.

About Author

Stuart Davidson

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