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Blue Defense: Second Wave! Review
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Blue Defense: Second Wave!, a castle-defense style space shooter from Cat In A Box Games, is now available from the app store. Following in the style of the original Blue Defense, Second Wave offers some additional control methods and a bunch of game modes to keep you busy as you blast invading forces and climb the leaderboards.

Blue Defense: Second Wave! Pros:

  • Beautiful, minimalistic graphics with retina display support
  • Effective multitouch controls utilizing touch and tilt simultaneously
  • Atmospheric soundtrack
  • Highly addictive gameplay
  • Several game modes and tons of leaderboards

Blue Defense: Second Wave! Cons:

  • Locked and unlocked streams are identical
  • Zoomed out screen makes effective targeting difficult

There are four main game modes in Second Wave!: Classic, Quick Start, Gauntlet, and Level Select. Classic allows you to play an infinite game, with the same three levels as your starting point. Quick Start allows you to choose which level you start at, giving you a jump on racking up big points and avoiding the slower-paced build-up. Gauntlet offers 9 styles of wave-based action, allowing you to play a pre-determined number of waves. Level Select allows you to select any of the specific waves that you’d play in Gauntlet mode, with a chance to practice your skills, play the level in infinite mode, earn medals, and/or compete for leaderboard supremacy. Each level even has a helpful Strategy button that gives advice on the best way to survive the impending attack.

You play the game as the blue planet, with a single accelerometer-controlled stream of gunfire spewing out into space. A variety of enemies (23 in all) will attempt to take over your planet, though to do this, a number of them must come into contact with your planet. (Some enemies actually do contact you without destroying you, until they deliver their payload, that is.) They do not fire any sort of weapon, though some enemy types may continually spawn smaller, mobilized enemies. It is very easy to become overwhelmed by the number of enemies and their 360-degree attack options. Most smaller enemies require only a single hit to be destroyed, though larger enemies may require several, with bosses (9 total) showing a health bar overhead that you must fully deplete to destroy. Enemies are typically red or green to differentiate from your blue, and they utilize a variety of attack patterns based on their type. Familiarizing yourself with these enemies will allow you to learn and anticipate how to counterattack their moves most effectively. As you destroy enemies, your point multiplier increases. It continues to increase faster as you get deeper into the game. If an enemy contacts your planet, the multiplier is reduced and you will lose some of the nearly 7 billion lives inhabiting your planet. If too many enemies contact your planet, all lives will be lost and the game ends.

Graphically, Blue Defense: Second Wave! has a great minimalistic style, with its all-black backgrounds really making the glowing red, blue, and green objects stand out, especially on the new Retina Display. The framerate is very smooth and the accelerometer-based controls were very responsive to directional changes. Be prepared to turn you iDevice in all direction, as you will be defending attacks from everywhere. The options menu does give you the option to turn off tilt controls, as well as calibrate the controls if needed. The soundtrack is great, with hauntingly ethereal, synthesized music adding a great deal of character to the game. You can even switch the backing track to the classic Blue Defense music if you like.

Your control options have been expanded in this go-around, and we like what they offer. The multi-touch support is key, as any point on the screen that you touch will add an additional stream of fire. In addition to your single prevalent stream, you can also lock additional points of fire by double-tapping a spot to shoot at. An aiming reticule will appear and you will not need to keep your finger on-screen to maintain the flow. You may have up to 10 auto-firing locks, though your main stream will diminish as you add these locks, so use them wisely. These can be moved by dragging the reticule, and they are removed with a single tap or swipe over their path. You can toggle on/off the ability to set locks and to drag to move the locks from the options menu. Our only gripe with the game is that differentiating our accelerometer-controlled stream from the various stream locks amidst the on-screen chaos can be difficult. When you really find yourself in trouble, you can activate a powerful planetary cannon by dragging your finger from the planet toward a large mass of enemies. This will wipe out anything in the weapon’s path instantaneously, though bosses may require an additional shot. You may use this option up to three times per game. An interactive tutorial walks you through all of the nuances, so that you can get a good handle on how to play. It’s a brilliantly executed game containing massive amounts of strategy and addictiveness that has left us unable, and unwilling, to put down just yet.

Replay value is outstanding, as the variety of modes and wave styles combined with tons of leaderboards and medals to earn (not to mention the infinite mode) should keep gameplay fresh for some time to come. Medals can be earned for achieving the target kill count in a given wave, avoiding the use of the planet cannon, and not allowing any enemies to come into contact with your planet. With its $0.99 price tag, Blue Defense: Second Wave! is a 5-Dimple standout.

Blue Defense: Second Wave! Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2010-09-29T23:53:02+00:00 rating 5.0 out of 5

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