I've recently spent a few hours with Babel Rising, a new iPhone game from White Bird Productions and Bulky Pix. Babel Rising is a tower defense game, but not quite in your typical style. This is one of those games you can learn to play in two minutes and then you'll spend many hours enjoying. Let's take a closer look.
The premise of Babel Rising is simple. You play God, and your goal is to keep humans from building the tower of Babel. Those pesky humans have numbers though, and their determination is impressive, requiring you to stay alert and use a lot of strategy to succeed.
Success isn't measured in levels or an ending cutscene -- the goal here is to simply score as many points as you can. The leaderboards, powered by OpenFeint, reveal that the current high score is just under 17,000. My highest score at this point is in the 2,000s, so.. yeah, long way to go.
To earn points, you've gotta stop the humans, and that is done with your divine powers. At your finger tips are six powers. These are mapped to icons on the game screen and each has their own cooldown timer so that you can't just use them constantly. The only power that you can use constantly is God Finger, which is the weakest power. This is the default power, and it's used simply by tapping on a human that you want to crush. There are too many humans to always be able to crush them all one by one however, so you'll need the other, more powerful and cooler divine powers.
These begin with the thunderbolt. The thunderbolt can take out multiple humans at once and is performed by swiping your finger diagonally from top to bottom. Wherever you lift your finger off the screen is where the lightning bolt will strike, so aim for a pack of humans and you'll be in good shape. You can also create a tornado that sweeps across the screen, clearing out one level of characters. Tornados have a slightly longer cooldown timer than the thunderbolts. To make a tornado, just swipe with one finger from left to right or right to left across the screen on the level of the tower you want to clear.
Typhoon, firestorm, and earthquake are the other three powers, each taking longer to recharge than the other. A typhoon is similar to a tornado in that its meant to clear a level of humans, but it can clear more than one if it's charged up enough and you swipe with multiple fingers. The firestorm is done by swiping multiple fingers from top to bottom, and this creates a wonderful storm of fireballs that can either be really effective or only so-so, depending on how many humans you manage to catch with it. Finally, the earthquake affects humans on all levels and is activated by shaking the device for a second. It does a lot of damage, but it takes forever to recharge so you have to use it very wisely.
All of these powers are easy to use and they work very well. Getting comfortable with the recharge time and figuring out the best combos to use is a vital part of surviving for more than a few minutes. It's also worth noting that you can use a power before its fully charged, but it won't be as effective.
The humans come in a variety of types, and they appear from the left and right sides of the screen simultaneously. Some humans are carrying rocks, others aren't, some move faster than others while others carry a larger load. The variety isn't bad and you're constantly involved with halting their progress, so there's rarely a dull moment after the first minute of play.
The humans need to only complete six levels of the tower to end the game, and each new level of the tower is marked with a cool sound effect and a darkening sky. There is no way to undo or destroy a new tower level once it's created, making every new level of the tower a major concern.
That's about all there is too Babel Rising, but you may be surprised at how addictive it is. I would have liked a few other gameplay elements thrown in like power ups or the ability to destroy a tower level, but gameplay is kept rather bare for quick, on the go action. Outside of trying to earn the sixteen available trophies and a higher score, there isn't anything different from one play to the next. Having the option to save your game would be kind of neat too so that you didn't always have to start off from square one. That said, Babel Rising is still a fun little game that has surprised me and one that I see myself playing for some time to come.
To the summary...