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 Post subject: X-Morph Defense (XB1 - PS4 - Switch - PC)
PostPosted: Sun Sep 23, 2018 10:41 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Throughout the history of gaming, the outcome is always the same regardless of the plot. You're the hero, a savior for the whole world, fight the enemy, save mankind, Earth, the galaxy and even the Universe. No matter if you take the role of Triggerheart Crueltear, Aoba Anoa, a Thunder Force 222 pilot, a lone U.N. Squadron/Aslan Foreign Legion pilot, or even a pilot of the United States Navy, the result is always the same: Justice and Freedom prevails at the end.
However, there's that "once in a while" occasion where you take control of the evil forces. From playing with M. Bison in Street Fighter II' Champion Edition to crush the World Warriors, conquering Europe with the Soviets in Command and Conquer Red Alert or helping Vile to defeat X and Zero in Megaman Maverick Hunter X. In any case the objective is simple: Evil Triumphs.

Shmups have some good examples: the cancelled Chimera Beast, where you take the role of an always-hungry lifeform called "Eater" and devour everything in your path, destroying your planet's ecosystem and repeating the process until you reach Earth. DonPachi and DoDonPachi involve the player being used as a pawn of the military to take down your own comrades in favor of creating a "Super Soldier" force and worse, killing them without knowing it and eliminate human populations as a solution to pollution and overpopulation.

Of all my foes, the Military are the ones with the biggest blasts...when they die, that is.
The last planet we've conquered gave up without shooting.

X-Morph Defense is the latest game in the "Crush the Justice" type of games. Your mission is to take the role of "Commanding Consciousness" to conquer the Earth and take down the human opposition and assimilate the planet for the aliens to take its resources. Unlike DoDonPachi, YOU KNOW what you've gotta do. As your masters and many other consciousnesses are counting on you.
Getting this task done also means one thing: Become the Meanest Son of a Snake this planet has ever seen! Which means destroy any human resistance in the way.

Now, before you can start causing chaos and mayhem on Earth, there's two game options: Story Campaign and Survival.

Story Campaign is the Main Game. The first thing to do in the campaign is to select if we will play a Solo campaign or a Co-Op with a friend and which difficulty level we want to play as well. The quantity of resources will decrease as we climb the difficulty level from Very Easy to Hard.
The game relies on in-gameplay cutscenes to make the tutorials, mostly the first level of the campaign where you learn what's necessary to fully understand the game. Thus, learning the basics of this game will take no less than a few minutes.

Your ship has its own variety of weapons, they might not be too much, but they're good enough to take out the good guys.
PLASMA: Your basic "Twin Shot", it fires with a machine gun-like pace and can be used against both Air-to-Air and Air-to-Ground targets. It's special charge is the Charged Plasma, which is your X-Buster-esque chargeable shot that releases a large energy blast capable of taking multiple small enemies or inflict damage to a large one.
MISSILES: This is the Air-to-Air weapon, it fires a fast stream of missiles capable to take down all airborne enemies. Its very effective against multiple formations of small enemies. The charged weapon for the Missiles is the Electromagnetic Pulse, an EMP blast is capable to take down small planes making them crash and destroy some of the missiles fired by the bosses.
LASER: Need to make your enemies go "Dancing in the Laser Light"? then this is the ideal weapon. The Laser is the "Power-type" weapon, At first it starts as a weak beam but as long as it hits a target (a Shielded Tank for example), its damage will increase, it also splits into smaller target locking lightning bolts that hits nearby targets if there's enemies near the target that's taking the hit. It's special charge is the Gravitational Singularity, which is a black hole that swallows everything within its radius, devouring from small cars to medium-sized tanks, combined with the Debris Collector upgrade, it becomes a quick Resource gaining tool. Remember, to unleash the Singuarity's full effect you have to hold the charge button for at least four seconds or so.
BOMBS: The Air-to-Ground weapon, fires energy blasts to ground enemies that causing moderate damages on a small radius. Its special charge is the Dark Matter Bomb which is not just your enemy blasting weapon, but also your demolition tool. You can use the Dark Matter Bomb to collapse buildings and destroy bridges and make the enemy paths longer and trickier in order to gain more time to build during the attack phase.

Your ship also has a defensive mode, the Ghost Mode. This mode makes your ship invisible to your enemies, you can move faster than the "visible" fighter, and allows you to pass through tall buildings. The best part of this is you're immune to all enemy attacks. It's only drawback is you can't shoot while you're in this mode. This is also the only mode where you can build things, which is very helpful during the battle phases. It is also used to collect debris from destroyed enemies, collecting debris is essential to gather resources to build towers.

Introducing the X-Morph Build-A-Fence Set, an easy to install perimeter and defense line to keep all the annoying earthly pests away from the Core.
Keep your base safe from Military Forces, Religious Cults, Nerds, Trolls, Monster Trainers, Idols, Trekkies, Kan-Musus and more. The Build-A-Fence keeps all of them away!
The Build-A-Fence set is friendly with all fast food delivery services, It's "Threat-or-Friend" System guarantees your pizza will reach its destination safe. CALL 1-800-FENCES NOW!!

The gameplay in X-Morph Defense is more than just a clone of Thunder Force II and Desert Strike, each stage is splitted in Waves, which can vary from 4 to 6 in total. Each Wave is divided in halves. The first one is what we can call the "Construction Half", where you can start planning where you build your defenses. The objective in this game is to make the enemy's path to your core as long and stressful for them as possible. This can be done by taking down bridges and cutting paths building Laser Fences by connecting Towers. Unlike Age of Empires where you could totally block your town with a wall, in X-Morph Defense you have to leave one path to the core, this is where you have to make their path to the Core an absolute "Via Dolorosa" for them.

Once you're finished either if you still have resources to build towers or not, you'll go to the "Combat Half" where you'll face not a small bunch of enemies, but large numbers of enemy vehicles of all kind: Ground Troops, Humvees, Tanks, Shielded Tanks, Helicopters, F-22 Wannabees and B-2 like bombers. As you advance on stages and waves, you'll face even bigger things like Bulldog Tanks and Juggernaut robots capable of jumping the Laser Fences. Such amounts of enemies are basically the "Enemy Hell" of strategy gaming, as you're on the 1 against 300. So, to take your stand and survive, you have to know which weapons are effective against them. For instance, as you progress to the last waves of a stage, the Humvees will be repaced by tanks capable of taking multiple hits from your basic Plasma Towers, so you have to replace them with Artillery Towers. Anti-Air Towers are also useful against Hoppers and Juggernauts when they jump your fences. Knowing all the tower types is essential to survive in your mission, for instance, the Anti-Air Laser Tower is effective on large aircraft like Bombers and Heavy Assault Helicopters. While Artillery and Laser Towers can deal with most of the enemy units when they're put together.

BRACE YOURSELF! - It's not time to relax yet! -

In some stages you'll be facing boss battles, but its not the usual "Just you and the big machine", you have to stop the enemy from reaching the Core keeping it away or slowing it down and destroy any missiles fired towards the Core while destroying the boss in the process. This could result in battles that take from 2 to 6 or more minutes, which can be compared with those of G-Darius and the 6th stage of Blazing Star in terms of epic long battles. The battle's length depends on which weapons are using against the boss. The most effective weapon is the Laser.

The X-Morph World Tour 2018. Hitting Australia this weekend. Next stop: in your own town!

As you progress in your mission, you'll unlock both Main Missions and Optional Missions, the Optional missions can be played regardless if you've played the main mission or not, but skipping them could not be a good idea since each mission gives you technology and upgrade points.

I have the power, I have your destiny in my hands.
I will decide your fate. I'm the ruler of the darker land.

Everytime you complete a mission, you'll be rewarded with Technology and Upgrade points. These are required to unlock new turrets or habilities for your ship like the Debris Collector which is a super-useful tool to gain extra resources. Also, the game makes you recommendations so you can upgrade all upgrades that you'll require on a specific stage.

Too much at stake...Ground beneath me shake...AND THE NEWS IS BREAKING!!

Survival is the second mode of this game. You can select a country and survive as long as possible. Unlike the Campaign, there's no unlimited building time. So, building things, making harder paths and collapsing buildings is a tech-race against the clock. Instead of upgrading before starting a level, you'll unlock new Towers, Weapons and Upgrades after each enemy wave. At first you will start with an initial configuration of upgrades while the game gives you three random options where you can only pick one of them.
Once your Harvester Core hits the ground in Survival, it's a duel to the death where you have to delay the inevitable as long as possible. However success is based on how many waves you survived, so reaching at least 10 Waves and getting 100,000 points it's a "Silver Victory" despite your base was outnumbered and destroyed. Obtaining the Gold Victory is not gonna be easy, since the "No Regenerations" no longer gives you the 10,000 Point Perfect bonus, so you have at least to obtain 175,000 points to get the gold. Getting at least a Bronze Medal in a Survival level will unlock the next one. One final word of advice: As you advance to the next level the number of technologies on your initial deploy will vary. This means if you start with 7 upgrades in your first stage, in the next level you could start with 6.

Here's the list of your initial weaponry in this mode.
Canada: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.
United States: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs.
Argentina: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.
Russia: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.
Germany: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.
Mexico: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.
Australia: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Anti-Air Flak Tower, Laser Tower, Artillery Tower, Plasma.
Egypt: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs.
Hawaii: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Anti-Air Flak Tower, Plasma, Missiles, EMP Blast.
China: Debris Collector, Plasma Tower, Plasma, Charged Plasma, Plasma Shield, Bombs, Dark Matter Bomb.

The X-Morph Euro-Tour 2018 is bringing down the house and the whole continent! Featuring Hi-NRG and Italo-Disco tracks like "Wake Up", "Laser Light", "Midnight Lover", "Groove Boy" and more!
After the Euro-Tour disco party, we're all invited to the All-Paris Urban Demolition Derby, an unique event in the whole world! Special Guest: Ted Nugent!!

The features three additional modes via DLC's. X-Morph Defense: The European Assault is the first DLC Add-on Expansion and the third game mode as well. The plot takes place after the battle in Japan. Your mission in this campaign is to take over Europe to complete the planetary assimilation. However, as you begin to take over the continent of Europe, changing countries from good to bad, the good people of Europe will fight you off. The military has assigned General Duncan Clarke as the new commander and he will not stop until the X-Morph out of the planet.
This mini-campaign will introduce the enemy's new weapons: The Frostbite Cannon, an orbital satellite weapon that freezes your towers, making them useless for a few seconds, the Mezzomagnetic weapon Ghost Project which generates a field that forces your ship to enter in Ghost Mode, and the only and final boss: The European Massive Assault Vehicle "Rhinocharger" which can be considered as Euro-Hell on Wheels ready to turn Paris into a city-sized Demolition Derby.

This mode includes three new missions in this Euro-Tour of mayhem and destruction. One curious thing about this mode is that you can't carry the technologies unlocked in the regular campaign, so you are limited to unlock specific upgrades, becoming more strategic and drastic. Also, if the enemy has new superweapons on their side, this game gives you a special thing: Weaponize the Eiffel Tower. Yeah, you can transform France's iconic landmark into an awesome monument dedicated to mass destruction capable of taking down big size enemies with one shot.

It ain't no "Death by Misadventure", but it's still a case of overkill for the Commanding Consciousness. Time to be a "Fist Fightin' Son of a Gun" once more.

There's a third game mode called Survival of the Fittest, which is the second DLC add-on of the game. The gameplay is almost identical to the original Survival Mode. As the gameplay remains pretty much the same: Start with a default set of weapons and upgrades, timed construction halves, only more difficult, at the point of feeling more like an expansion of the Survival Mode rather than a new gameplay mode. The only difference is the inclusion of the Frostbite Cannon, the Mezzomagnetic Field and the Weaponizeable Eiffel Tower from the European Assault DLC.
This mode features the time limit on the building phase, However, the combat phase wouldn't start until you hit the button, making it identical it's Campaign mode version. Apparently there were complaints about this on the original Survival Mode, and i guess its not a good idea being pressed by time on strategic moments like those. At first you'll see the countdown like if nothing happened, however, when the time hits zero the "Combat Half" won't start until you're done building your defenses. Thus, the countdown only works as "Countdown Skip" which adds bonus based on the overall accumulated remaining time you've skipped during the timers.

Do you feel the special magic in the air? Do you feel the touch of love everywhere?
They call it "Ritmo", "Ritmo de la Casa".

The last Downloadable Content of this game is called "Last Bastion". This new campaign takes place at the end of the main campaign and the previous European Assault. As humanity is evacuating to the Moon, some people decided to die fighting rather than run away and let the X-Morph do the "All Your Base" on Earth, and the tropical islands are in fact, the last bastion of the human race because the X-Morph focused on taking over the continental landmasses.
So, it's time to hit the "Tropical Paradise" and a cold landscape and turn them upside down into absloute mayhems of destruction. With the original Earth Defense Force general (the unnamed Putin lookalike) and Duncan Clarke gone, there's a new leader: Margaret Larsen, a woman ready to deploy everything at her disposal to see the X-Morph and the Harvester Cores destroyed, and when i said "Everything at her disposal", she means it as this mode introduces four new threats: The Vulture Missile Gunship, a large flying vessel that fires long range missiles, making it able to hit the Harvester Core without getting close to it, the Manticore Tank, a behemoth tank capable of using EMP pulses that disable the Commanding Consciousness attacks and Ghost Mode for a while. The Ravager Artillery, which is a Long-range Missile Launcher truck that, like the Vulture Gunship it doesn't need to get close to the battlefield, its missiles do the job, and the Tortuga Mobile Shield Generator, which is a mobile energy shield dome that covers multiple vehicles. "Big and Mean" machines that will make sure you're out of this planet.

But you're not alone, you have new technologies: The Railgun Tower, a tower capable of hit multiple lined-up targets with one shot. The Flame Artillery Tower that combines the grenade-like properties of the Artillery Tower with the scorching heat of the Flamethrower Tower, and the Shockwave Tower, which causes the ground to shake, inflicting damages to multiple enemies in a certain radius.

It's the X-Morph doin' the tropical trip. No swimsuits or suntan required. Just the Harvester Core, the Commanding Counsciousness and its new technologies are all what it takes for this Summer-trip to pardisiacal places such as Madagascar, Easter Island, Indonesia and break the ice on Iceland as you go all Magma Diver (or "DIE-ver") as you watch enemy jets plunging on to the lava in the final chapter of the X-Morph's global domination. Unlike Survival of the Fittest, this add-on is a story-based campaign that completes the whole plot of the game when it's combined with the original campaign and the European Assault expansion.

Graphically, the game aims to visual realism, pretty much like a Sci-Fi movie, and the realism is well executed in the battlefield. ┬┐Remember Raiden II where a crashing ship damaged the background depending on where it crashes?, in X-Morph Defense this effect is amplified "thousandfold" as our damages can bring down trees. Wrecking a house can reveal its interior, you can see if they have stairs, furniture or even checker-colored floor.
Something curious about the character design is the fact that the Earth forces general has a resemblance to Vladimir Putin and the colors used are red and gray, the same for the military uniforms, and the general's uniform is black with red. Giving the enemies a Soviet Union look. As for your characters, rather than being an organic alien life form, the invaders appearance looks like they came from Michael Bay's Transformers movies (Bayformers as some people know them), mostly based on the appearance used on the Decepticons, in fact the Consciousness heads have quite a striking resemblance to the "Movieverse" Decepticon symbol. Not to mention the Harvester Core transforms from a falling monolith to a base and your ship can transform in other 3 alternate fighter configurations depending on which weapon is selected.

The sound department breaks from the traditional trance-dance-techno beats in favor of an epic-styled orchestration inspired by the works of film composers such as Harry-Gregson Williams and Steve Jablonsky. While the voice acting is pretty solid and well executed, there's instances where the voice samples play in the wrong moments (See "X-Curiosities" section to find a clear example about that).

- A Geology error can be seen during the opening cutscene as the aliens analyze the Geothermal Energy of Mars and Earth, showing Mars with an active core, while in reality its core died out hundreds of millions of years ago (its lack of a Magnetic Field and "Paleomagnetism" evidences are proof of it).
- The Tarantula Marks V, VI and VIII look very similar to the Walkers (Stage 1 Bosses) from Raiden II / Raiden DX and the Mission 2 boss from Carrier Air Wing.
- To unlock all the technologies and upgrades available, you'll have to complete all the main and optional missions of the game.
- During the Tarantula Mark V cutscene, the aliens collapse a tower with an EXOR sign on it, making a nod to the developer studio. The "Exor" sign building can be seen in other stages of the game, along with "Exor" spherical gas tanks and "ExorOil" gas station.
- The japanese translation calls the Mechataur Mark I as Mechatauros.
- During its development, the game was initally developed as a full vertical shooter rather than a "panoramic" view shooter.
- You will need to survive 25 waves in Survival and Survival of the Fittest to pick all the upgrades and turrets.
- At the beginning of the 5th enemy wave in the Finland stage, when Duncan Clarke says "We need air support on station ASAP." we hear the voice of the Putin-like general. This voice error is quite frequent in this campaign.
- Everytime you fail on the European Assault levels, the Putin-like general will appear talking about their success instead of General Clarke.
- The "Winter is Here" description in the XBOX Store could be or not a reference to the Game of Thrones tagline "Winter is Coming".
- Once again the name Earth Defense Force is used, which many old gamers could confuse with the classic Jaleco shmup and Sandlot's 3rd person shooter.
- The name Tortuga comes from the spanish word that means "Turtle". The name was given due to the shell-like frame of the Mobile Shield Generator.

- Pretoria, South Africa is where the first stage takes place.
- The Canada stage is located in Toronto.
- Great Britain's stage takes place in London.
- Argentina's battleground is located in Chos Malal due to its location near the Andes and the Chilean border.
- Germany's capital Berlin is the location of the fifth stage.
- Brisbane is the battlefield of the Australia stage.
- The Russian stage is a few miles between Kochubey and Artezian.
- Norfolk, Virginia becomes the battlefield in the United States stage.
- Nigeria's stage is apparently located near Maiduguri.
- The Mexico stage seems to take place near Santa Ana, Sonora.
- Hawaii's battle zone is apparently located in Waikoloa Village in Hawaii's "Big Island" near Mauna Kea.
- Egypt stage is located in El Cairo.
- China's stage is apparently located Southeast Xinjiang near the Gansu and Qinghai borders.
- Tokyo, Japan is the location of the final stage.

- The first stage of the European Assault stage takes place on Helsinki, Finland.
- Amsterdam becomes the battleground for the Netherlands stage.
- France's capital city Paris becames the final stop in the European Assault.

- Once again, London becomes a battlefield for the first stage.
- Finland's capital Helsinki is where the second stage is.
- Pretoria is where the south South Africa stage takes place.
- Amsterdam can't catch a breath as it becomes a war zone in the Netherlands stage.
- Paris becomes a battleground for the second time in the Survival of the Fittest as France becomes the final stage.

- Madagascar's stage is located between Tandrano, Behistara and the Isalo National Park.
- Reykjavik is the location of the second stage.
- The whole Easter Island is the third battleground.
- The Maluku Islands or North Maluku are the final battlefield. To be more exact, it's located on Poan and Palamea.

Overall, we have not just a Thunder Force II and Desert Strike clone. X-Morph Defense blends Age of Empires-like elements adding an additional challenge and fun factor to the whole gameplay. With the ending hinting a sequel, we can only hope to see more of the Commanding Consciousness and it's non-stop conquest of the Solar System one of this days.
┬┐It's no fun being an "Illegal Alien"?, X-Morph Defense and it's multiple DLCs says the opposite.

Destroying Moais, not just a Gradius thing anymore.
Fan of Transformers, Shmups and Anime-styled Girls. You're teamed up with the right pilot!
Bringing you shmup reviews with humorous criticism.

STG Wikias: Thunder Force Wiki - Wikiheart Exelica - Ginga Force Wiki

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