Combine Tower Defense action with Real Time Strategy depth in Necronator 2

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Necronator 2 is one of those rare games that has more to offer than it appears to on the surface. It mixes elements of tower defense games with real time strategy games and puts them all together in a campy yet slick package on the web.

Internet based web games, usually coded in Flash, are often called ‘casual games’ but that could not be more of a misnomer when it comes to Necronator 2.

Despite the fact that it is a game played on the Internet, it has a depth and complexity that is surprising at first.

This is rapidly becoming the standard for many free games on the web, however, and Necronator 2 is one of those at the front of the pack, showing that a game does not necessarily need super beautiful 3D graphics or a soundtrack by John Williams to still be fun and even compelling.

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Necronator 2 is, at its heart, a tower defense style game but with some twists. Imagine a tower defense game where, not only do you have to defend against waves of incoming enemies, but you also have to send waves of your own troops at the enemy’s defenses. Your troops will clash with the enemy troops along the way, of course, and this is where the excitement begins. While you are not able to place towers immediately in Necronator 2, you are given a castle to defend and the ability to create troops, very much like a real time strategy (RTS) game. So, right from the beginning, Necronator 2 takes two very enjoyable and famous game genres and twists them together to give us an experience that is at once familiar and fresh.

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The first thing you will do is to start churning out troops. You’ll have limited selections of what kind of troops to create, at first, and as you progress and gain experience, you’ll be able to unlock new kinds of troops. The basic soldiers you’ll start with will depend on which race you choose at the beginning of the game, of which there are many. For purposes of this article, I chose the elves, but there are humans, orcs, and even dragon people that you can play as well. Each race has its own strengths and weaknesses, as well as bonuses and penalties. Humans are the exception, being pretty well balanced all around. When the game starts, you will begin trying to conquer enemy territory by sending in your troops. The first units you will be able to produce are usually a basic militia and a basic ranged unit. You simply click the on-screen button or hit the proper hotkey on the keyboard to send orders for troops to be produced. When they are ready, they will emerge from your castle, and automatically begin their march toward the enemy, along a curving and twisting route through the local terrain. You have options to select the troops and manually send them wherever you like, but if you leave them alone they will continue to march toward the enemy castle. Again, we see the mix of RTS and TD styles here.

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As your troops make their way across the map, they will encounter structures, which can be conquered and captured, and will provide greater resources for you. These resources will allow you to build more troops as well as cast spells to affect the outcome of battles. Spells, just like your troops, can be researched and upgraded between battles to get more powerful and useful ones as your progress. Once a structure has been captured your troops will move on, of their own accord, to the next one again and again until they reach the enemy castle, which they will try to destroy. Bear in mind, however, that the enemy is doing the same thing, so your troops and the enemy troops will see each other, charge and attack. As if all this wasn’t enough chaos, there are mercenary and barbarian structures that produce their own troops, which you must conquer before you can use. Eventually, you will also see the option to build defensive towers that will automatically strike at any enemy coming near them. Last, but never least, you will eventually have access to hero characters that are basically super tough units that have their own abilities, which they will use independently. Of course, the enemy will also have their own hero troops so watch out!

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As you can see, the apparently simple nature of the game is just a veneer for the deeper, more complex gameplay at hand. It is slow, at first, but you will quickly find yourself hard pressed to keep up with battle and strategy at the same time. The rewards, as far as enjoyment and sense of accomplishment go, are great when you actually do manage to defeat a particular enemy. While the graphics are not the best thing on a GPU, they are campy and colorful, and the splashes of blood that cover the fields of battle seem grotesque and macabre in the almost cartoon like environments. The music is not horribly monotonous, and the sound effects are satisfying, with the sounds of clashing steel and the crash of buildings coming down.

Necronator Screen 25Necronator Screen 22Necronator Screen 21The only real downside to the game is that there is, of course, premium content that can be purchased with real cash, but this is pretty common these days and doesn’t really detract from the overall enjoyability of the game itself. I would suggest this game to anyone who wants to explore new directions in their casual gaming, as well as to anyone who is searching  for a somewhat deeper experience than the latest bejeweled clone. Since you can save your game between sessions, you can actually get a whole lot of play time out of this game, as the campaigns for each race are pretty extensive. So, choose your race, make some troops, and conquer!

Until next time, my friends!

Check out Necronator 2 here.