Uh-oh! Another group of asteroids is heading for the planet and the human race is nearly wiped out. By now, everyone knows this doomsday scenario and it truly surprises me that games or movies bother telling it anymore. Tellurian Defense combines the story of two very popular films: Armageddon and Independence Day.
First, the asteroids nearly wipe out all life and, second, the little gray aliens come and destroy everything. Nevertheless, this premise to a 3D space fighting game is plenty to back up the action in Tellurian Defense.
With any game that has a unique 3D interface, some instruction is required to figure out what to do and a tutorial mode helps. When first playing Tellurian Defense, the navigation is the most difficult aspect to master. As it happens, a little arrow at the top of the screen is what you need to follow to find enemy ships and bases but it isn't readily noticeable. Fortunately, the tutorial and practice modes help you figure out how to play.
This is a game that take a while to get used to but, after you do, it's a lot of fun. Moving your ship is made easier by its speed. Your fighter moves at a very slow rate that, as it turns out, is the fastest you can fly in the game. The controls for basic maneuvering are not too difficult to get used to because of this limitation so it has its good and bad aspects.
One feature that could have improved gameplay in this area would have been the addition of speed boosters. Being able to employ speed bursts for just a few moments would really have made the game more interesting. As it is, though, the speed allows for some added maneuverability.
Tellurian Defense takes place in a totally 3D environment. Not only can you shoot at alien ships straight ahead or below you but you can also fly underneath them and attack by hitting them from below. Additionally, you can fly through tunnels and around famous landmarks such as the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge.
With each mission, you have to accomplish different objectives by destroying both stationary objects and high-speed alien vessels. Before you even begin a mission, you have the choice of equipping your ship with four different types of missiles and a chain gun. Some of the missiles are auto-guided and help with the quick speed of the grays' fighters while the others pack more of a punch for alien bases.
Each mission has varied objectives and a storyline comes clear as you complete them. Although the typical premise exists for Tellurian Defense, the game's story really develops as the alien's plans unfold. At first, the humans think the grays are simply attacking to take over but later discover they've been abducting and infecting humans. It's a mystery scripted by Star Trek: The Next Generation writer Morgan Gendel.
At the close of each successful mission, you bring back alien objects needing to be researched. You must allocate resources for the research and, once completed, spend even more resources to develop them. After each mission, the object becomes closer to being fully researched and developed. Eventually, this leads to ship upgrades, weapon advancements and wingmen that you can use in your future missions. This aspect adds depth to what could have been a simple 3D spaceship fighting game.
Tellurian Defense begins in a very simple and typical fashion but ends as a somewhat complex and mildly involving experience. You have quite a few firepower options and mission objectives for variety while a mysterious story unfolds before your very eyes. The action is less than exciting what with the slower pace but, overall, the game is satisfying.
Graphics: If you have 3D acceleration, you can enjoy great weather effects of rain and snow and very smooth action. Some of the lesser 8MB cards won't get much of the weather or fog effects that are apparent with higher memory cards. The many different views of your ship are impressive (although only a few are very practical). Laser effects are akin to the Star Wars green blasters of the Imperials.
Sound: The electronic/techno music soundtrack really works well for the game. The sounds of the commander giving you mission information and the laser blasts are loud and clear. When aliens are nearby, you'll hear a very loud and strange humming sound.
Enjoyment: This is a very fun game to play once you get used to the controls and killing enemies. Its mystery adds to the temptation to keep playing until you can figure out what the aliens are up to. The speed of your ship can prove annoying, especially when you have to fly all the way across the city to fight more aliens, as it takes about a minute to reach the other side.
Replay Value: Only one storyline exists. Once you've gotten all the way through it, researched all the technologies and defeated the aliens' attempt at conquering our world, there's really no need to play it again.
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