- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 6, 2011

A portable monster apocalypse that delivers frenetic and challenging tower-defense action has arrived for devotees of Apple’s magical tablet in GRave Defense HD (BulkyPix and Art of Bytes, reviewed for the iPad 2, for players 9 and older, $2.99).

Developers take great pains to explain, through text nuggets, how the mutants and zombies came to be in 2022 after a global nuclear war. As a member of the Fellowship of Survivals, a player must protect the innocent citizens now hidden in catacombs called Vaults.

Players easily can skip the introduction and get right to the bloody meat of the dilemma.

That is, working through more than two-dozen missions to stop creatures from entering Vaults and depleting a life bar. Succeed by quickly, but strategically, placing firepower along a maze of paths and watching the weapons automatically attack hordes of foes.

Through a top-down presentation, the player overlooks graveyards, decimated highways and burned out neighborhoods. He uses his ever-accumulating cash (kill to collect) to build 15 upgradable, mainly turret-style arms, such as rocket launchers, harpoons, flamethrowers, Vulcan machine guns and even a Tesla coil to fry the beasties.

A simple tap on an available slot in an arena opens a menu to select a weapon to build, or tap on the weapon to upgrade it. Weapons reload automatically, but can be destroyed by the enemy.

Tower Defense fans will consider the graphics impressive (detail down to an ever-thickening trail of green goo along routes as creatures are slaughtered is pretty gross) and won’t complain about the intense difficulty of the challenge.

Among the creature cast, players routinely must stop waves of flaming hell zombies, flying gargoyles and mummies.

Also in the mix are nearly unstoppable bosses, including Dracula and the Frankenstein monster. Nothing will suck the enthusiasm out of a gamer faster than wading through 23 minutes of death to stop 14 levels of monsters only to get blown away by some floating clown in cape.

For a bigger challenge, I’ll direct you to the outer-space Mothership map that is so large players must slide their finger across to screen just to see the entire maze. By the way, multiple attack routes exist to further complicate beating the overwhelming odds.

A leisurely survival mode completes the fun. By the way, I felt pretty good about living through 30 levels of that onslaught.

The outrageously low price should demand any iPad gamer take part in Earth’s GRave Defense.

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