Fortified Xbox One Review
Publisher: Clapfoot Inc Developer: Clapfoot Inc Genre: Action, Strategy Players: 1-4
Age Rating: 12+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Fortified is a game that takes inspiration from a number of things, including third person action, tower defense and 1950s sci fi films. With intense action, pick-up-and-play controls, and a pleasing level of strategic depth, it’s certainly a game that does a number of things right.
Here’s how a typical round of Fortified begins: you select one of four characters, then are given the opportunity to choose your loadout. After that you are able to place various weapons and soldiers across the map that are able to help you keep the waves of robotic Martian enemies under control, and hopefully stop them from attacking any rockets on the map that is your job to defend. Just as long as you have the cash at hand, you are of course able to place hired help during the fight, as well as between waves, although you are limited to how many can be placed at any one time. Luckily, you can easily sell weapons or structures that you no longer need, and then use the cash as well as the freed up space to allow you to place something else, and perhaps something that is more necessary to the fight at that point in time.
It’s not only the defences that you place that help keep the Martians at bay though; your character is also armed with guns. In a nice touch, you are able to switch between weapons while another is reloading, allowing you to continue firing at the monsters without the need to pause. The third person shooting mechanics are also more than competent enough, and there’s satisfaction to be had in being in the midst of exploding Martians.
You’ll soon come to realise that the focus of the game definitely seems to be cooperative multiplayer, as many playing in single player will only manage to get so far. Playing in multiplayer also calls for strategising between players to get the most out of the game, as just doing your own thing and working alone often won’t get you very far. The difficulty of the game does start increasing relatively quickly as well, and I certainly found myself feeling frustrated, and all too early on as well, particularly as the game has a total of 12 levels to work through.
The game features four stereotypical characters: The Captain, The Rocket Scientist, The Agent and The Spaceman. The characters share some of their skills and weapons, although they also have enough of their own to set them apart from one another. The Captain has a focus on commanding men, for example, while The Rocket Scientist relies on explosive equipment and weapons. The Spaceman has handy freezing weapons, and, finally, The Agent is particularly useful against large enemies. It is easy to see that each character has been designed in such a way that each of them are handy in a fight, meaning that going it alone and using only one characters’ set of skills will lead to a much more frustrating experience than when playing with others and using all characters at once.
The four characters also have their own Heroic Power, which can be used once a gauge reaches its threshold. The Captain buffs any nearby allies and also calls in a destructive strike, The Rocket Scientist uses her jetpack to attack from the air, The Agent does more damage and The Spaceman gains a protective bubble which also freezes any enemies that come into contact with it. The Heroic Powers can certainly help swing battles in your favour.
Oddly, even though the characters share all the same stages as one another, you can only play on a level if you have already unlocked that specific level with your current character. Each character also has their own level (20 is the level cap), which means that playing as different characters is encouraged. Still, in some ways the level structure in particular does feel as though the developer has done this to artificially increase the lifespan of a game that is asking for a bit more content.
Fortified has a main campaign mode, although it also has the Invasion mode. With only three maps, the Invasion mode is a lot more limited than the campaign mode. The mode has you once again protecting rockets by placing defences and shooting at enemies marching towards you. The difference is that the maps are more straightforward, and there are also various enemy perks to contend with.
Visually, Fortified has chunky and very likeable cartoon-style visuals. The most impressive thing here is the amount going on, and there isn’t a hint of slowdown to spoil the explosive and intense action. It’s a just a shame that when it comes to the audio, the game only has a single track of music, which gets repetitive rather quickly. True, such small developers don’t always have the resources, although it doesn’t change the fact that one track of music just isn’t enough.
While Fortified has moments of frustration and could have done with a bit more content, this is still a very likeable game of action and strategy. If you are prepared to put up with its flaws, then Clapfoot’s game is one that may keep you playing for awhile.