Fortified is a third-person shooter that mixes gameplay elements from tower defense and real-time strategy games. The pretty bland story feels like something I've played too many times before: aliens invade Earth in pretty dramatic fashion, which in turn causes the humans to fight the invasion off. Luckily for Fortified's sake, the game doesn't hang its hat on its sub-par story, and also offers simple, but engaging gameplay.
The story mode is broken down into a series of maps with difficulties ranging from easy to impossible. There are four different characters to choose from, with each character specializing in a certain tower defense structure. One of the cool things this game does is that while you're building and upgrading structures like most other tower defense games, not all of them are stationary - some can be moved around.
During my playthrough I primarily used the Captain, whose "structures" were actually troops you can spawn that will follow and obey your every command. I could upgrade these troops in a variety of different ways such as fire rate increases, equipping rocket launchers, boosting health, etc. There are also stationary structures in the game, and these behave in more typical tower defense ways.
Before each wave you are given a set amount of time to set up before the onslaught of aliens begins. Your primary objective is to kill all the aliens before they reach the rocket base. The game has a 1950's pulp sci-fi theme going for it and developer Clapfoot Games does a great job of portraying that with the game's creative alien and main character designs. Unfortunately, there just aren't enough of these aliens and the repetitive nature of fighting the same enemies quickly became a bore.
During waves, enemies will all come from pre-determined locations and follow paths that can branch off in multiple of different ways. You can free roam around the map, killing enemies using weapons that can be unlocked throughout the game. Fortified was a surprisingly difficult game. I initially started on normal until I restarted the game on hard, but quickly found out that I had incorrectly measured my own skill level. It became apparent to me that playing solo can be punishing if you aren't perfect with your base building.
Luckily, the game allows for co-op play. Playing co-op reduces the difficulty drastically, but allows for different strategies and playstyles. Teaming up with friends, whether it be locally or online, was when I had the most fun with the game. Regardless of whether you're going solo or co-op, Fortified demands your undivided attention. Getting distracted for even a minute or mismanaging your resources can quickly lead to your base being overrun.
I appreciated my time more with the game when it was spent in short burst. There isn't much variety in each level that really kept me interested in sitting down and playing for any considerable amount of time. While I enjoyed the leveling system for individual character as well as structures, by the time I was halfway into the game, I had already fully upgraded everything I felt that I needed to win. Experience points weren't really relevant during the later game. After the first 4 or 5 levels you've seen basically all there is offer. As you continue to progress, the only substantial changes are the amount of bases you must protect at once and the number of aliens attacking you. Outside of the main story, there is a Invasion mode which allows you to play against endless waves of aliens until you are killed.
I was impressed by how well the game held up on a technical level. The game isn't the best looking on the Xbox One, but it was still great to see the 60 frames per second hold up smoothly regardless of how much chaos was occurring on screen. Music, on the other hand, was repetitive and bland. There isn't much variety in songs so be prepared to listen to the exact same tracks on an endless loop.
Fortified is certainly an enjoyable game to play. The lack of variety and somewhat cliche story isn't necessarily going to grab you, but the lighthearted tone of the game coupled with its entertaining wave-based combat makes for an pretty solid title.
Writer for Darkstation since 2014. I've been playing games my whole life and starting writing about them in 2010. Outside of gaming I enjoy anime and watching my Philadelphia Eagles let me down every Sunday. Follow me on Twitter @jsparis09