Comet Crash 2: The Kronkoid Wars was only announced a few weeks ago, but we didn’t have to wait long for the game’s release. It’s out now for Playstation 4 – here’s our review.
The original Comet Crash was a very well-received PS3 title almost ten years ago. It came out in 2009, and it succeeded in the Real Time Strategy genre because it was designed from the ground up for console use. Relatively short missions, a simplified control system – it took out all the elements that make a PC RTS hard to convert to consoles, and turned it into something fresh and original. Comet Crash 2: The Kronkoid Wars stays true to that formula and doesn’t feel as fresh as a result, but it’s a worthy follow-up for a new console generation.
Usually described as a real time strategy game with tower defense elements, I’ve always considered Comet Crash as a tower defense title with real time strategy elements instead. It has all the usual things you’d expect from a real time strategy title (resource collecting, building your defenses and training troops), but what always set it apart from the rest for me were the tower defense elements. It’s these aspects that make Comet Crash feel quite unlike Command & Conquer and Starcraft, and much more like any of the tower defense titles out there.
The biggest difference with traditional tower defense, of course, is that you’re not placing your turrets and other defense units prior to the start of a wave – where it’s “fingers crossed!” once the action starts. Instead, everything plays out in real time and what you can build will depend on the amount of resources you have available – which in turn is a direct result of how much you harvest. These are all typical elements of Real Time Strategy, but the fun lies in how you approach your unit placement. As is the case in some tower defense games, the way you position your weapons has a direct effect on how enemies navigate their way towards your base – the trick being to funnel them past as many turrets as possible to make sure they never get there.
Placing your defenses well means that you have a little breathing room to harvest and upgrade your base, because that’s where you build your offensive units that are meant to take the fight to the enemy. Create yourself enough breathing room and you’ll even be able to upgrade, breathing life into more powerful units that stand a better chance in battle. The same dynamic also applies to your defensive units though – they too can be upgraded to become more powerful as the enemy grows in strength and numbers.
And thus, a tactical game unfolds where there are many roads to success. There are 54 missions in total, and the pre-determined layouts often craft a puzzle-like dilemma for you to solve. This is especially true (and obvious) in the levels that introduce new units, as the game wants to familiarize you with their use and advantages. These levels are fairly ‘by the book’, and it’s the more open scenarios that are most fun to play around with. You can either go on the offensive immediately – with a relatively high risk of failure – or you can build up your defenses to make them impenetrable before even thinking about going on the offense. In most cases, you’ll walk the middle ground between the two – and finding the right balance never ceases to be fun because of the large diversity in units (on both ends of the battle).
A much more hands-on approach than what tower defense titles offer, Comet Crash 2 lets you literally control a unit on the battlefield in order to command your army. This means you’re harvesting, issuing build orders, making decisions regarding troop activity, etc. It’s a great way of adapting the Real Time Strategy genre for consoles – much better than having a mouse pointer and putting your gamepad in control of it.
Comet Crash 2’s simple, cell-shaded look might not appeal to everyone, but I thought it was very functional in distinguishing all the different units without the option to rotate and zoom in 3D. The game’s tower defense influences do hold it back a little bit though – as the trial and error dynamic of that genre is also present here. New units are introduced frequently, but how to deal with them (especially the enemy ones) is something you have to find out the hard way. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the game from being a great new indie title for the Playstation 4 – and fans of the real time strategy and/or tower defense should rejoice.