However, many Tower Defense games are low-budget and/or browser-based efforts. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you have a PC capable of beautiful 3D graphics, why not put that power to work? Let’s have a look at some 3D tower defense games that go beyond the basics.
Launched all the way back in 2008 for the PC, Defense Grid is far from the newest title that’s available for tower defense gamers. Yet it is, in my opinion, still the definitive tower defense title. If you’re interested in this genre, you owe it to yourself to play this game.
Defense Grid isn’t particularly unique, nor does it twist the genre in new or surprising ways. Instead, this game builds itself on a backbone of solid level design, great pacing, and good tower selection. The basics which are there are executed with masterful precision. Although most of the turrets and opponents are simple at first glance, the level design combines these elements in clever ways to create steadily more difficult challenges.
The game looks good even on old hardware, so you don’t have to fret much about system requirements. Any discrete GPU made within the last three years should run it, as will many integrated solutions.
Defense Grid is $9.99 on Steam.
Tower Defense games are a genre that’s mature, and as a result it’s becoming more difficult for games to stand out, particularly when titles like Defense Grid are already available. Simply slapping together some levels, turrets and enemies isn’t enough.
Sanctum, a new 3D tower defense game released just this year, twists the concept by putting you in the first person perspective and handing you a gun. Now fighting off the bad guys isn’t just a matter of running them through your maze of turrets, but also shooting them yourself. Some of the opponents are designed in ways that make player intervention a necessity for success, and the included co-op mode is a real blast if you and a partner want to go toe-to-toe with the alien hoards.
As it’s new, Sanctum does require relatively new hardware to run well. A dual-core processor with a clock speed of 2GHz is recommended, and a discrete GPU will probably be required for smooth gameplay.
Sanctum is $14.99 on Steam.
Released in 2009, Sol Survivor is an indie tower defense game that came first to consoles but then hit the PC in 2010. In many ways, Sol Survivor is a basic but well executed tower defense game similar to Defense Grid. The single-player campaign offers a wide variety of turrets and opponents, and the challenge of the game comes from how these basic tools are combined to create challenging scenarios.
What sets Sol Survivor apart, however, is the wealth of multiplayer content. There are several co-op modes available including campaign and survival. There’s also a “wars” mode in which players send out their own creeps against enemy players while also defending against the creeps sent by everyone else.
Sol Survivor is the least attractive game on this list in my opinion, but it’s still not bad to look at. The system requirements only ask for a 2GHz single-core processor along with a video card on par with a Nvidia GeForce 8800 GS, which is ancient by modern standards. Most computers with a discrete GPU won’t have a problem with this game.
Sol Survivor is $9.99 on Steam.
Honorable Mention – Anomaly: Warzone Earth
Of the 3D tower defense games I’ve played recently, Anomaly: Warzone Earth is the best. So why does it only receive an “honorable mention”?
That’s because it’s a reverse tower defense game. In Anomaly you play as a group of soldiers trying to penetrate heavily defended alien anomalies. You use your commander’s various powers to keep your units from harm and destroy enemy turrets. It’s the traditional formula flipped on its head.
The gameplay is excellent, the graphics are astounding, and it is easily the best among 3D tower defense games. You do need a recent system with a modern video card to play the game at the highest detail settings, however.
Anomaly: Warzone Earth is $9.99 on Steam.
These games are all stand-outs in the genre, and should be picked up eventually by anyone who’s a fan. Even those who don’t consider themselves veterans of tower defense should have a look at Defense Grid and Anomaly: Warzone Earth – they’re both excellent games.
Let us know if you have a favorite of your own that we haven’t mentioned here.