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Plants vs Munchies: McDroid

In direct contravention of the Some People On The Internet Don't Like Tower Defence Games act of 2008, I like tower defence games. I especially like tower defence games that remix the concept and make the player an active participant, rather than the more traditional alley-building type. McDroid does just that, putting you in the robo-booties of a spider-like robot sent to harvest strawberries amid an invasion of grub-like aliens determined to a) eat the strawberries b) kill the robot and the ship it arrived in.

It's almost more RTS than conventional tower defence, though it seems to sport about a thousand influences on its cel-shaded sleeve - StarCraft, Portal, Plants vs Zombies, Farmville (not in an exploitative way), Defense Grid, er... Alright, maybe there's a lot of difference between 'five' and 'a thousand.'

I don't object to the influences at all, it's just that they do leave me a little unsure what the game's own voice is. It's probably more in the play itself, which reminds me a little of a top-down Iron Brigade - i.e. defending fixed areas against invasion by mixing turrets with a directly-controlled avatar - with none of the direct shooting. Your little robot can carry a turret on its back, but it auto-shoots at anything in range. A neat idea is that is this carried turret can be placed into a node, at which point it becomes the more traditional fixed turret - but it can be picked up again if you need some on-the-spot defence, to move it to another node or if you want to kite enemies to a different location.

So the game's a sort of juggling act of turrets - rather than click to place you're ferrying them around the place, swapping them in and out to help yourself, trying to put better turrets in threatened places. And all the while, the collection of strawberries.

The mention of cutsey fruit makes it sound more contrived than it is - essentially this is a farming game and you're trying to keep pests off your crops. Only with giant frickin' lasers rather than scarecrows and foil plates on string. Strawberries slowly grow over time, which is where the FarmVille element comes in, but you're trying to harvest them while under fire. The build I've played doesn't take many prisoners after its first, gentle few levels. It's frantic, breathless carnage as pseudo-Zerg swarm in vast numbers, corrupted land gradually nobbles your turrets and strawberries, and there's not enough cash to build, repair, restore and upgrade everything despite the limited number of construction nodes.

It won't be out for a while yet as far as I can tell, the build I've played being very much a work in progress even though it seems stable and fairly slick to me. Worth keeping an eye on for sure though. Here's a swooshy trailer for you, followed by some in-game footage:

Watch on YouTube

Watch on YouTube

More details here.

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