Air Patriots for Android review: Amazon adds mobile units to tower defense genre
The first mobile game developed by online retail giant Amazon, Air Patriots offers a new take on the popular tower defense game genre. Typical tower defense games ask you to protect your terrain from incoming attackers by placing stationary units strategically across your map. But what's unique about Air Patriots is that its units are all mobile, which makes things quite a bit more difficult, and fun. In fact, with moving units that feel like they're on offense quite a bit more than they are on defense, it's almost as if Air Patriots doesn't fit into the tower defense genre at all. Regardless, Air Patriots is an incredibly addictive game that's easy to play and sufficiently challenging at the same time.
Air Patriots includes seven maps, 28 levels, and 13 types of aircraft. Of course, not all of these items are available at the start of the game, as you must beat levels, earn Gears (one form of in-game currency), and unlock most of them as you go. Alternatively, you can use real-world money to simply buy Gears, which speeds up the process, but takes a lot of the fun out of it. If you are leaning toward dropping the cash, though, then I would suggest the Super Pack, which unlocks all the maps, and other extras such as the Howling Wolf chopper.
As in other tower defense games, each map comprises two or more routes from one side of your screen to the other. Your job is to prevent the enemies from escaping to the other side of the screen. In Air Patriots, each time an enemy does escape, you lose a Heart. If you lose 20, the game is over. To help you in your mission, Air Patriots gives you a plane (sometimes more than one) to start each level. As you use this plane to destroy enemy tanks, you earn coins, which can then be used to purchase more units.
What makes Air Patriots unique is its gameplay. Rather than simply placing stationary turrets, you attack enemies by drawing an attack path for each of your planes. You can also create looping attack patterns that your planes will follow endlessly, until they are knocked off course by another unit. These attack loops are, by far, the best way to make use of your units. I've found it extremely effective to create several loops as close to each other as possible to make sure that enemies are under fire every step along the path.
Since some enemies are shielded against specific types of ammo, you are forced to use different types of aircraft to attack. This not only adds to the challenge of the game, but also motivates you to earn Gears and buy new units, as quickly as possible.
What I love about Air Patriots is that it strikes just the right balance between unlockable game attributes and purchasable game attributes. I've encountered too many "free" titles that let you taste maybe 10 percent of the game, and ask you to pay (with real money) for the other 90 percent. Air Patriots doesn't have that problem, as it offers plenty to discover before asking you to whip out your (Google) wallet.
As great as Air Patriots is, though, the game is not perfect. Some greater variation in enemy types would be a welcome tweak. As of now, there are only four different tanks to contend with, which can get repetitive after a while.
Overall, if you're a fan of traditional tower defense games, with fixed paths and stationary turrets, then you'll love Air Patriots. Its mobile units and looping attack patterns add a whole new dimension of challenging gameplay.