Flash Review! – Soviet Silo Defense
If you take the old school games like Asteroids, Missile Command, and Battlezone and mix it in with some decent visuals, a new tracking system, plus some neat upgrade and what comes out of the pot is Soviet Silo Defense. This game takes a very interesting approach to the classic arcade gaming and provides the same intriguing and addicting qualities they used to hold. Though keep in mind that there are a few glitches here and there and some bugs that still need to be worked out. But in spite of all that it provides a satisfying experience that may or may not be revisited depending on if you’re a score monger or not.
The game starts off with a rather slick semi-cinematic approach even during the loading section and the now manditory logo displays. This provides a good sense of the depth put into this game. The menu looks alright, but it could have used more polish. The first thing you may notice on there are mini-games to unlock on the right hand side aside from the main menu. I will get to these later.
Once you delve into a new game it even prompts you to use the tutorial based on if you have any remnants of saved games lying around. If not it would be best to use the tutorial to give you a quick sense of how to play. It doesn’t provide ample time nor explanation to allow yourself to adjust to the tracking controls, but I guess that’s what the different levels are for. So as soon as you start you fire away, one missile at a time just with a nice little click. Then the missile will track your cursor for a limited amount of time before it just gives up and goes straight on the last angle it was at when it timed out. Now the cursor is nicely designed and provides an intuitive sense of lock-ons. The smaller square within the larger will slowly get smaller as the lock is put into place. Once it locks the now small inner square sticks to the target.
While this is a great idea it isn’t very useful. This is one of the first bugs. I find that once the target is locked the missile tends to miss anyway. This may be due to the lack of upgrades within the game, but the whole point of the lock-on is so you won’t miss, right? Well I guess not in this case. As I progressed I found manual tracking much more effective. After that it played a lot like Missile Command since you have to be ahead of your target when aiming. Overall the controls take a little time to get used to, but can be satisfying in the end.
The interface itself doesn’t provide a whole lot of detail. There is your silo displaying the level you are on by the number of nukes that have been launched already. There is also a small meter below your turret indicating your reload time. And lastly there is a timer for the level. The timer isn’t that intuitive and is basically a piece of a circle that fills up slowly to indicate the next launch. It would have been more helpful to have a full circle timer or a digital timer instead.
The hidden interface comes from the special attacks you have at your control. By holding space it shows up with things like high velocity missile or multimissile shots. Once again the auto locking feature wasn’t very good. Each special attack fills up in red to indicate when it is ready to use, and conveniently a piece of text flashes up indicating it is ready anyway along with the hotkey to use it. So I found myself barely checking to see when it is ready except for the later levels when it was important to know when you have your special again. It is a very basic interface overall.
Now there is also the upgrade screen after each level. Everything is laid out very clearly with big windows and big buttons to choose what you want to buy or if you want to repair your base. Well, there was one thing that was hard to see. At first I didn’t even know where my money amount was since it wasn’t actually displayed in any of the upgrade windows. Then I noticed it was in tiny little font right above my score at the very bottom of the screen. After I actually knew how much money I have then I started to upgrade here and there. You can upgrade reload speed, damage, speed of missile, and tracking rate. There are even shields you can buy to protect your base from early hits before it takes its time to regenerate. More upgrades included upgrades for vehicles. Yes, you can buy vehicles like vehicles with flak cannons and ground to air missile launchers to assist you. Sounds cool right? Well the first time I bought it my little flak boy it showed up and helped me out, but when I reloaded the game or bought another missile vehicle they disappeared altogether. I have no idea what happened, but I made due without them. So basically stay away from the vehicles and stick to the missile upgrades and shields.
Another confusing part was the extra special attacks. It traces it way back to specific upgrades so you are supposed to be at that level, but the strange part is it highlights the upgrade level you can buy rather than which level you are actually on. It turns out you have to be on that level rather than buy it for the specials to be unlocked.
The whole game is pretty fun. It takes a lot of effort to shoot down massive waves of planes at a time and you will tend to miss some here and there. It would have helped to have some support vehicles, but oh well. The difficulty of each level continues to progress as you move along. It starts with simple planes for you to target moving nice and slow. After a few levels some airships with more health show up so one shot won’t due the trick anymore. Sonic jets, bombers, and even stealth bombers are some of the enemies you will have to tackle. There was also one very clever enemy that I quite enjoyed having around. It has a electrical disruption which blanks out your screen in static as you try to target it making you have to do a little blind tracking sometimes. The creator definitely did not make this an overly easy task.
Now for the mini-games. One is to trace your missiles to hit gas tanks or jerry cans. The other has nothing to do with missiles at all and you shoot moving boxes from a central turret to gain points while some techno music plays on. Both of these are very wishy washy and aren’t worth playing in my opinion. I would have rather had the developer take more time into fixing the bugs in the tracking and vehicles than adding these mini games which do not have much appeal relative to the main game.
The final word I have on this is try it out. It is a good waste of time if you want to take a nice little break and does have some replay value due to it’s addicting but simple gameplay. Plus there are a variety of difficulty levels to throw yourself at. The only warning I have for you here is get ready for a lot of red, not surprisingly. Honestly too much red makes my eyes hurt after a while. Add some other colors in there for the sequel. The Russian flag has some yellow in it too.