Tower defense games are a bit of an acquired taste. I mean, on the face of it, the experience sounds monotonous: Build towers, fend off enemies, get coins, build more towers, fend off more enemies, get more coins. And while enemies are attacking, you often just sit there looking at your towers do their thing (also known as "passively staring at the screen"). Don't get me wrong: I love tower defense, but I recognize it's not for everyone -- which is why I was happy to find Air Patriots on Droid Flash's Best Tower Defence Games channel.
This is a tower defense game that tries to open up the genre for a broader audience.
This is a tower defense game that tries to open up the genre for a broader audience by making it a more active experience, with elements directly lifted from games like Air Control. Instead of building towers that dominate a certain radius, you command a squadron of aircraft. Your enemies are tanks that calmly roll along set paths, and conveniently lack any sort of anti-aircraft weaponry. Easy peasy, right?
Ah, but there's the rub: It turns out your pilots are not very intelligent. For a plane to fire at any of the tanks, you must guide it at its target. Tap on a plane, and drag it along the path you want it to follow. That's the bit that's so similar to Air Control, but unlike Air Control, you don't have to worry about your plane hitting any other planes. As your plane follows its path, it fires on any nearby tanks.
Tanks being tanks, they're often not destroyed by a single hit. Also, as you may expect, tanks and planes move at different speeds. This means you will often have to make multiple passes with your planes over a column of tanks until they're all toast. Once that happens, you get a little prize: A tiny cogwheel appears, which you then tap to collect.
That humble cogwheel is your introduction to Air Patriots' complex upgrade system: You can use cogwheels to purchase different planes, upgrade your existing planes so they pack more oomph, and buy bombs and other special weapons. This being a freemium title, you can of course buy cogwheels for real-world money. Unlike other freemium titles though, you can make some serious progress without having to shell out money -- the game doesn't feel stingy.
All in all, Air Patriots offers a surprisingly fresh and nuanced take on the established tower defense genre. Since trying it out won't cost you a dime, I can honestly recommend it to both tower defense junkies and people who never got into the genre. Go show those tanks who's boss!