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Savage Moon
Score: 83%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment America
Developer: Fluffy Logic
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:
While the graphics in Savage Moon are the expected "top-down" look found in most "Tower Defense" games, the camera view can be adjusted using the lower shoulder buttons and the analog sticks. You can get close-in to the action, if you like, or you can zoom far back to get a better view of the action across the battlefield.

Top-down overhead view is the default view in Savage Moon, but this view is fully adjustable. You can change the view to what you like, as I mentioned, but when certain events happen, the game will switch to a cut-scene to show, for example, where the alien bugs are swarming onto the battlefield. When the game cuts back to gameplay, I found that the camera angle would often be changed at least slightly, so be ready to move the camera to a better vantage point when these cut-scenes occur.

The sounds in Savage Moon are decent, as is the voice-work which is used in the (possibly overused) tutorial portions. The best effect, however, is the combination of the sound and the vibration feature when the massive mortars blow up a target. (For the best effect, upgrade your mortars a few times... Boom!)


Gameplay:
Savage Moon is a "Tower Defense" game. If you're familiar with this type of game, you can proceed to the next paragraph. "Tower Defense" games are quite popular time-wasters, with many iterations available as Flash games, playable online for free. The idea is that there are enemies that are going to try to get from point "A" to point "B" and you're got to attempt to stop them. Instead of grabbing a gun and blasting them away, as you would in other types of games, in a "Tower Defense" game, you build walls and place automated defensive units to destroy the oncoming waves of baddies. Yes, you're a little removed from the action, I suppose, but it can be very addictive.

The story behind Savage Moon is that you are attempting to protect mining operations on living moons. There are various bug-type alien things that are actually some sort of symbiotic immune system of the moon; they see you as a threat so, you're going to have to neutralize them. To do so, you will need to research new weapon types, buy turret-style automated defense weapons and have them air-dropped into action on the battlefield and upgrade and maintain these weapons. Never forget that you are trying to keep the mining operation... operational. You lose points for each precious second that goes by that the facility is even partially damaged, so keep it fully repaired and fully functional - if you can.


Difficulty:
Savage Moon is not a very challenging game. It easily could have been, but the developers chose to include small tutorials at the beginning of each level, teaching the player about more and more tactics, abilities and options that they have available to them. If you pay attention, this tutorial will usually give a pretty clear indication as to what, specifically, you need to do to get past the current level.

That having been said, fighting off successive wave after wave of the bugs could get to be overwhelming, since each wave is more fierce than the last, but if you have enough units to take out the enemy forces, you should have some "breathing room" between phases, allowing you to take a deep breath or, at least, survey the battlefield and determine what your strategy should be.

If you find that you don't need extra time; that the game is too easy and you're always waiting on the next wave of bugs, you can actually go into the Command menu and cause the next wave to advance before their timer runs out, gaining bonus points at the same time.


Game Mechanics:
The idea behind Savage Moon is that of survival, through strategy and careful resource management. You have to spend your money wisely and have to carefully use your "equipment drops," as there are a limited number of new units you can have dropped in. These limitations combined with unit research, manual advancement of the next bug wave, and adjustable armor/earning/firepower settings introduce a lot of tweakable aspects, allowing players to try a wide variety of strategies.

The graphics treatment is novel for this genre, but then, this type of game is usually a casual PC game, not a console game. The camera control allows you to see and deal with any part of the battlefield/puzzle area, but it doesn't necessarily make it easy. I had several times when I would move the camera around while trying to place a unit and ended up having to swing the camera around or change angle before I could slide over to drop the unit where I wanted to. It's a small gripe, but it was an occasional annoyance.

I highly enjoyed playing Savage Moon and expect to return to it again sometime when I have a short bit of time to kill. Fans of the "Tower Defense" genre will enjoy it greatly, but it's a bit complicated as a first introduction. However, the tutorials ease you through each step of the way, so anyone who wants to play this game should be able to figure it out.


-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins

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