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X-Morph: Defense (Xbox)

Developed by EXOR Studios, X-Morph: Defense is available now on PC (£14.99), PS4 and Xbox both for £15.99.

When I very first saw the trailer to X-Morph: Defense I was immediately intrigued because I do have a soft spot for tower-defence games which are blended with shooters. My first thought was that it looked a lot like AirMech Arena (another game I'm very fond of) so I couldn't wait to try out X-Morph: Defense.

It is so refreshing for once to be able to play as another species apart from ourselves. Normally, we play as humans defending our planet from the invading aliens, but this time we are the aliens and if we happen to wipe out the human race whilst we're here then so be it! Earth has the energy that we need to harvest and nothing will stop us (and if they do, we'll restart the checkpoint and try again)!

X-Morph: Defense looks great, the maps are vivid, colourful and really well animated; they have even ensured top quality by adding water movement and trees blowing in the breeze! You can even demolish some of the environment (some buildings, bridges, etc.) which can block (and sometimes kill) enemies!

I used my headset when playing and it's so much more immersive than just having your TV for sound! The background music is discreet and calm between waves becoming far more intense as more and more enemies approach you. Gun fire sounds brilliant and varies depending on which weapons you are currently using. The explosions are great but my controller vibrated so hard at one point I thought it was going to explode too!

The controls are easy to pick up and once you've played for a little bit there'll be no stopping you (hopefully)!

Everything can get quite hectic with all of the towers, enemy fire and your own movements/firing/debris harvesting but even with all of this going on, for the most part, it plays smoothly. Changing weapon types is seamless, as is switching to and from build mode or placing and upgrading towers. I admit, I was anticipating some sort of stuttering because of the sheer amount of things happening at once but I was pleasantly surprised and the game handled it all rather well. The only time I have encountered a drop in framerate is after a wave when the two leaders start talking. 

If anything, I feel the menus could have been clearer, I thought the tutorial didn't quite cover everything, mostly regarding the upgrades you can purchase; it took me a while to figure it all out. It didn't help that the writing on the screen is so small (and that's coming from someone who is already wearing glasses!). 

You can set your difficulty according to how intense you want the game to be (Easy, Normal and Hard) but to be honest, even on easy I found it can still be pretty tough at times, especially when you're playing by yourself!

There is co-op mode but unfortunately, there's no online co-op only local split screen which I find quite disappointing as I feel it would have been a brilliant addition to the game, I certainly would have made great use of it, had it been available! Thankfully you are given the opportunity to sign in an Xbox live profile in local co-op which is an absolute saving grace considering there are co-op achievements!

Your objective is to defend the harvester core (which drains energy from Earth) whilst waves of enemies come to try and destroy it (and you). You do this by shooting the humans, building towers which could change the route the enemy is taking or provide anti air support. You can unlock the different types of towers in the upgrade menu prior to starting a new mission, provided you have enough technology and upgrade points available!

There are many upgrades you can choose from which can enhance your core, your ship and your towers, you can change which upgrades you have selected at any point before the mission starts and you'll unlock more points to spend as you manage to secure each core around the world as you progress through the story.

The missions can be quite tricky but no matter, if you fail you are able to restart from the last checkpoint! The loading screen even provides some tips for you if you fail which I thought was a nice touch. Some waves require some forethought and strategic placement of towers whereas I've found other waves purely require speedy shooting and tower building. The boss waves are unique and so much fun, they are huge Mechs which literally destroy the environment around them as they approach you and they add a whole new element to the fight as they will often be miles away from any previously built towers and completely destroy any they come across with ease!

There are even leaderboards available to look at in the main menu so if you want to, you can compare how well you've done in any of the missions with your friends and the rest of the world!

Overall, X-Morph: Defense is fantastic fun to play and I definitely recommend getting it! If I had to give it a score it would be 8/10, the lack of online co-op, when there are achievements for completing the story in co-op mode, was a letdown for me, other than that it's a great game.

X-Morph: Defense has 30 achievements available for a total of 1,000 Gamerscore. For the most part, the achievements are progression based and will likely unlock through natural gameplay both in single player and co-op modes so you will need to find someone to play with if you intend on unlocking all of the achievements. There are a couple of inventive achievements but I wish there were more of these- I do love a creative achievement list! If you need any help or guidance with any of the achievements then head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information.

 A game code was provided for the purpose of this review. Thank you!

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