Developer: RElam99

Release Date: 2/15/11

Link: http://www.kongregate.com/games/RElam99/sentinels-first-wave-beta2

             Since this is my first review, I wanted to do something a little special to start things off right. That is, until I found an awesome tower defense game and said “To heck with that, I’m talking about this instead.” Come on, don’t give me that look. I know flash tower defense games are a dime a dozen, but act now and you’ll get a third dimension for the price of two! That’s a $0 value absolutely free!

            Err, sorry, my inner infomercial salesman got carried away there for a second. So, today on QVC we’ve got Sentinels: The First Wave. Yes, it’s a tower defense, but I picked it because it’s not just your average tower defense. I pulled it up out of curiosity a few days ago because I saw it runs on the Unity3D web player, a flash plugin that’s specifically designed to handle 3-dimensional graphics far better than flash can on its own. I thought to myself, why would a top-down tower defense need 3D graphics? Well, as I discovered, they certainly help when the game suddenly decides it wants to be a first-person shooter.

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      The big gimmick in Sentinels is that any time you right-click on a tower, you not only gain direct control over it but you see the battlefield from its perspective in 3D. It’s not only fun, but also useful as your shots are stronger than usual and you can pick your own enemy, which is nice for the more troublesome ones. You can even make towers hit enemies that they’re not normally meant to hit, like an artillery cannon hitting aerial enemies. You do have a limited amount of ammo for each type of tower, so you can’t use the first person mode constantly, but it adds an interesting new dimension for a tired genre. Unfortunately, though, there’s no indication of what’s going on elsewhere on the map, so if disaster strikes somewhere else you won’t know until you’ve lost.

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      Another thing that I really have to commend the developer for is those 3D graphics I was talking about earlier. This is easily one of the best-looking flash games I’ve ever seen. The draw distance is quite good, yet the game runs fairly well even on an older computer. The futuristic setting might be a little generic, but it works well enough.

      Unfortunately, I do have a few bones to pick with Sentinels.  This is definitely a concept game more than it is a full-blown production, since there are only 5 maps and 3 towers (the other 3 are manually activated and can’t go into first person mode, so I don’t count them) to choose from. I won’t gripe too much about this, as the game is labeled as a beta. Still, it’s so early in development that there isn’t even an attempt at a story, although I will admit the explanation “evil bad guys that you should kill for some reason” made me giggle. My other problem with it is that there’s no way of telling how tall anything is in the overhead map. Level 4, Vertical Escape, is especially guilty of this. Everything works fine when the towers are automated and you’re looking from overhead, but shooting in first person is almost impossible in some spots. Also, on a minor note, the music is rather repetitive and can get annoying, but you can turn it off, so that’s not such a big deal.

      Sentinels: The First Wave might not have a ton of content behind it, but the first person mode is enough to set it apart from the sea of generic tower defense games. It’s certainly worth a look if you’ve got some spare time. I’m really looking forward to its future versions, and when they arrive you can be sure I’ll have more to say about them.
Score: 8/10
      This has been the Freeware Fanatic, saying Ginsu knives not included. Oh, crap, there I go again.
 


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