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Fortified Review: The Pulp Theme Is Clever But Game Feels Incomplete

From developer Clapfoot, the 1950’s style, sci-fi adventure, Fortified, dates back to multiplayer games like Team Fortress 2 in the style of the comical martian invader movie, Mars Attacks. I was given the opportunity to test out the game for myself on Steam, and let’s just say I wasn’t totally disappointed. Although, it also wasn’t what I expected.

Fortified puts a unique spin on the stereotypical tower defense gameplay. It takes place in a large city where you must build structures to defeat the incoming aliens. You also get to boss around army units and take control of air attacks.

In Fortified, you can choose to band together with up to four other players—and those players can be local or online. Or you can choose to play solo in the single-player campaign, because there’s nothing wrong with trying to do everything yourself. You can watch the gameplay video below.

When I saw the list of classes to choose from, I assumed I knew exactly how they would work and what their purpose would be. The first class I decided to try out was the Spaceman, only because I saw he came with a freeze ray. Why wouldn’t I want to use a freeze ray? I quickly found out I preferred his pistol to his freeze ray because, well, all his freeze ray did was freeze enemies and it took a couple hits to take out an enemy (one hit to freeze, then another hit to kill) whereas his other gun could blast away smaller enemies in one shot. The Spaceman’s own individual defensive structure could only be placed on a wall, and it would blow out frosty air that froze the enemies for me so I could shoot them. I found using the structure more helpful than relying solely on the freeze ray for freezing enemies, but only being able to place the structure on a wall proved to be a great limitation since intersections were left open and vulnerable. Of course, each class will have its perks and downsides, so it’s to be expected.

In terms of the gameplay itself, it’s ritualistic tower defense with wave after wave of aliens running down the street. There’s a giant green arrow pointing in the direction of where the aliens will run, and it’s one straight line towards the very thing you’re supposed to protect. Just like how the zombies gnaw on your base in Plants Vs. Zombies, the aliens slowly destroy your base if you can’t kill them in time. After the second level, I started to get bored. Maybe it was because I wasn’t playing with a team, or maybe it was because the gameplay was the same over and over.

Going into this game, my expectations for the gameplay were a little different. I expected something more along the lines of League Of Legends with a bit of Team Fortress 2 influence in terms of playing on a team or playing against another team to protect your base, something that involved true strategy and teamwork. And as a tower defense game, I loved the 1950’s sci-fi theme and while the enemies aren’t difficult to kill, they do pile up and get difficult to control at times—and I mean, it’s no fun if it’s too easy. Sometimes you have more than one base, or rocket ship, to defend and if you lose one, the game’s over. But with only three maps right now, I feel like that really cuts down on the playability of the game before boredom starts to set in.

Fortified successfully sends me into a nostalgic spiral back to the times in college staying up and playing Team Fortress 2 with people on Steam. While its gameplay doesn’t match TF2, the pulp-themed, stylistic art of the 1950’s makes me believe it has all of the tools for success, with a side of Twilight Zone. And though it might only cater to a certain gaming audience, it’ll be nice to log in to Steam after a long day and connect with a few strangers to form a camaraderie against an alien invasion. But I still think something is missing. While Fortified isn’t a bad game and definitely worth trying, I do think it needs a little something more to really keep my attention.

This review is based on a Steam (PC) copy of the game.

Players: 1-4

Platforms: Xbox One, PC

Developer: Clapfoot

Publisher: Clapfoot

ESRB: Teen