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Cubemen 2

I’ve lost count of how many tower defense games I have in my collection.  Interestingly enough, I came across a game that does something totally new to me: allow the user to move the towers they build.  Both “Cubemen” games revolve around the same general idea in that you’ll be building cubemen and moving them around in an RTS-like fashion.  Cubemen come in various types and are upgradable, much like the towers you’d see in a typical tower defense game.  The end result is a RTS meets tower defense game, but just how well do they play together?  Before we answer that and take a look at the latest game in the series, I’d like to thank Seon Rozenblum from 3 Sprockets for providing me with a free review copy.

Cubemen 2

Cubemen 2 (PC, Mac, Linux)

The main menu allows the player to participate in single or multiplayer games, learn the game with tutorials, customize the look of their cubemen & themes, view scores/stats/achievements, and adjust game settings.  The tutorial menu comes with beginner and advanced tutorials as well as a cheat sheet for keybinds.  The settings menu addresses screen resolution, fullscreen toggle, zoom sensitivity, audio volumes, and other basic settings.  You won’t find anything fancy like ambient occlusion and the like, but I didn’t find these things necessary here.  I did take issue with the customize and shop menu.  While some of the content is free, you’ll need to drop one or two bucks a piece for some of it.  Ninjas?  Space Men?  Zombies?  Ninety-nine cents a piece, please.  I honestly would have prefered all of this content to be free from the get go.  It should be noted that the DLC only covers cosmetic changes, so you won’t be missing out on any game modes or unit types if you decide not to purchase anything.

Cubemen 2

You can preview themes and skins before purchasing, but you won’t be able to use them in-game unless you buy them.

When you’re ready to play the game, you’ll have your choice between playing the single player campaign, a skirmish map, or joining a network game.  You can play the existing skirmish maps that come with the game, download new maps from the online database, or design your own.  The campaign starts you out simple and gradually increases the difficulty as you go.  You’ll only be given a unit type or two in the beginning, but you’ll have the full range of units once you progress far enough.  Skirmish gives you everything right from the start and even allows you to customize your experience quite a bit.  Players will be able to choose between defense, rescue, skirmish, capture the flag, and territory modes as well as define the difficulty, how many opponents they’ll fight, teams (if any), and more.  I was impressed by the range of options I had when setting up my game, though I recommend that new players stick to playing against one AI opponent on novice to get their feet wet.

Cubemen 2

You can also switch out any themes / skins you may have purchased from the customize menu.

The in-game interface provided me with everything I needed in a slick-looking display, but I admit it took me a minute to catch my bearings.  Your build menu is on the left side of the screen while player and enemy status is in the upper right hand corner.  The player will be able to see how many lives each team has as well as how many cubes players have to spend.  Some game settings, like game speed, can be adjusted in the lower right hand corner.  Unit information, if a unit is selected, will appear along the bottom.  It won’t take long for seasoned tower defense vets to get used to the layout…I was trucking right along after my third or fourth match.

Cubemen 2

The tutorials are clear and concise.

The rules of the game vary slightly depending on what mode you’re playing.  Skirmish is your standard game, giving all players a primary base to defend.  Players will be spawning both controllable units and NPC units from these bases in an attempt to be the last one standing.  NPC units will automatically make their way to the enemy base, much like “DOTA”, “League of Legends”, and “Demigod”.  If these NPC units reach the enemy base, then the enemy will lose life points.  The units players choose to purchase from the build menu are controllable and can be positioned anywhere they see fit.  Each cubemen type has a varying set of attributes along with a cost, so players will need to consider if they want to build a bunch of weaker units or stick with a few stronger ones.  Units can be upgraded, restoring their health and making them more powerful.  My favorite mode has to be the territory mode, which tasks players with painting the ground in the play area with their own color.  It was a real challenge to protect what I had when I was in the lead, forcing me to think outside the box and deploy my forces in the most effective manner possible.

Cubemen 2

Some cubemen, like flamethrower units, need to be positioned well in order to be effective.

Gameplay itself is very hectic, forcing me to slow the game down at times.  When you have so many units on the field at once, it becomes difficult to keep track of them all and see to their safety.  I like the fact that each cubemen type has its own weapon and firing range, which allowed me to set up some effective formations.  When my opponent was building powerful units that did a lot of single target damage, I’d react by building a bunch of cheaper units that could be disposed of without hurting my pocketbook.  Once they effectively became meat shields, I’d build a mortar or two and start pelting the enemy at range.  There are also Cubemen that can create walls and mines, which help to slow the enemy down if you’re getting overwhelmed.  There’s quite a bit of strategy to consider while you’re playing and since maps can be created from scratch, you’ll most likely never run out of different ways to play.

Cubemen 2

There are a bunch of maps waiting on the network, should you get bored with what you have.

In the end, “Cubemen 2” is a fun and unique experience that most strategy buffs would do well to try at least once.  My favorite feature is the map editor, giving players almost unlimited replayability.  Being able to share maps across a network is also a nice touch.  I do think the purchasable DLC (themes, skins, etc.) is a bit much and unnecessary, even if they are just cosmetic in nature.  Different people have different comfort zones and opinions when it comes to purchasing DLC, so you’ll need to determine for yourself if this is a problem.  I do like the customization of the game setup screen and the fact that I can put up to six players (human or AI) into teams.  I also appreciate the extras that are in-game, like medical stations, power-up drops, teleporters, and etc.  These extras changed the way I looked at a particular level’s design and forced me to react accordingly.  The full price tag is $7.99 (includes soundtrack), which isn’t bad for the amount of content that the game offers.  The two pack is two extra dollars, making the game five bucks a piece if two friends pitch in together.  The solo experience is fine, but multiplayer is where the game truly shines.  There were no network games available during my play sessions, so be sure to grab a friend or two if you’re looking to have some online fun in the near future until the game reaches more people.  The game will be available on iOS products later down the line in Spring, 2013.

Final Verdict: 8/10

Editor’s Note: On 4/11/13, the developers sent out a press release regarding their wish to give back to their paying customers.  You can see the article I wrote regarding this here:

http://www.dadsgamingaddiction.com/cubemen-2-developers-offering-free-content-in-response-to-community-feedback-4-11-13-news/

You can learn more about and purchase “Cubemen 2” by visiting the following websites:

http://cubemen2.com/

http://store.steampowered.com/app/228440/

You can check out gameplay video here:

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