It is hard to say whether the Space Station: Frontier HD for iPad can be considered as a Tower Defense game. To me, it’s more like a combination of RTS (Real Time Strategy) and Tower Defense altogether.
In Space Station: Frontier HD, you collect resources through mining while at the same time, preventing wave of enemies in reaching and destroying your space station.
So yes, your space station is your “main base” and should it ever get destroyed, the game is over. This really is the main objective of the game (to protect the main station), even though there are specific goals to complete on each campaign mission. Space Station: Frontier HD has a storyline in campaign mode even though it’s quite mediocre. At least, the single player campaign mode keeps you somewhat motivated compared to the usual tower defense game without a clear goal. I actually like this as I always prefer to play games with a storyline compared to mindlessly playing in skirmish modes.
There are basically 2 types of resources in Space Station: Frontier HD – minerals and credits. You gain credits by completing the single story missions or by playing one of the three freeform modes such as the survival mode. The credits are used to buy turrets and upgrades to boost your defenses through the main menu. Once you purchase/unlock a turret or an upgrade, it will be available on both the campaign and the freeform modes. You can repeatedly play the campaign or freeform missions over and over to gain credits so you can unlock more turrets and upgrades. This encourages you to play the side missions rather than rushing through the campaign missions in one single swoop.
In Space Station: Frontier HD, you use minerals (crystals), gained from mining the asteroids, to build these turrets that you have unlocked (upgrades are passive so they will be available straight away). This may sound easy in theory, but unfortunately in Space Station: Frontier HD, building the miners or turrets has to be done on a Power Node.
The asteroids to be mined are also quite spread out so you’ll find in the game that it’s almost impossible to effectively defend your station from multiple fronts unless if you have unlimited resources. Every time a turret fires, it takes some portion of power out of your power reserves. These powers are delivered through the power nodes to your turrets. So if a power node is destroyed, you may find your turret stops working as it needs to be powered up first. Too many turrets firing at the same time also drains the power quickly. There are upgrades to have an extra power station and all that, but these things are what made Space Station: Frontier HD fun and challenging at the same time.
There are not much tower defense games on the iPad with a great graphic and design such as this. I personally love the alien warships and the effects of the shots and explosions. I think the graphics can further be improved though by showing the station, power nodes, and the turrets form a side angle rather than the top view as it is now (I mean, the turrets look so sexy on the screen where you unlock it)
Space Station: Frontier HD Review conclusion
Space Station: Frontier HD for iPad looks and sounds gorgeous: especially the blasts, explosions, and the alien ships. The design is also fresh and keeps you both entertained and challenged at all times. It encourages you to play the freeform modes to gain credits so you can progress through the campaign as it will get harder and harder if you haven’t unlocked other turrets and upgrades.
Constantly monitoring your resources and power while at the same time trying to build defenses to cover a 360-degree angle of attack in multiple fronts are the ones that make Space Station: Frontier HD challenging to play and a great time waster. There is also a multiplayer mode but it’s only local – via Bluetooth or WiFi unfortunately.
So if you are looking for a Tower Defense type of game that looks great, have somewhat a storyline, and challenging to play, the Space Station: Frontier HD might leave you satisfied, or frustrated if you are not up to the challenge :)