Every now and then, we play an iOS tower defense game that packs so much content and variety that we can’t help but give it a moment in the spotlight. Bloons TD 5 is one such game, and it features a huge number of levels with deep strategic gameplay. As with previous entries in the series, your job is to place ape-like defensive towers around each map, then see off the waves of invading balloons that slowly swarm across the world. You'll need to stop a certain number of them from reaching the exit to clear each level.
You start off with a little bit of cash to get your defenses up and running, and you'll need to carefully place a few basic units around the maps to repel the first few invasions. After that, you can use the cash earned from popping the flood of balloons to upgrade defenses, or simply spread more of them out across the map to mop up stragglers.
There are a huge number of balloon types to contend with, and each one adds a new tricky flavor to the experience. Some are camouflaged, for example, and can only be taken out with ninja-like defenses. Others are made of metal, so you'll want a few cannon units spread around the map to take them out cleanly and quickly.
As for the towers, there's a huge variety to choose from as you level up. It's a good idea to put a Tack Shooter at crossroads, so its multi-directional fire can take out streams of balloons. Glue gunners slow the balloons down so your artillery can get more shots in, while Super Monkeys fire a rapid stream of balloon-popping darts in quick succession.
There's a delicate balancing act between upgrading your existing forces and creating new ones. On each level attempt, you'll have to make careful decisions about the direction you want to upgrade a unit, as doing so opens up certain specialisms while locking out others. It's a game that's as deep an experience as you want to make it, especially on the hardest difficulty setting.
It's not just the overwhelming tower options and enemy types that keep the game fresh, though. Each level has been perfectly designed to add something new to the mix, and when you've tired of the standard lane-based maps, you can get stuck into the likes of solar system levels where the balloons take concentric orbits around a series of planets.
The best thing about Bloons TD 5 is how perfectly balanced it is for players of all ages and abilities. The easy mode is ideal for kids and will keep them busy for hours, the medium setting suits laid-back gamers, and the hardest difficulty will keep even the most seasoned tower-defense fanatics on their toes. At $2.99, it's a little pricier than most apps, but you receive a huge value for the money.
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