Tower defense game Cubemen 2 is a direct sequel to its previous incarnation created by independent Australian developers 3 Sprockets, who specialize in games and apps for PC, web, tablet, and mobile devices. Aside from their Missile Command-like Doodlegeddon and first Cubemen title, the 3 Sprockets company is trying to get its foot in the door of iOS gaming. Have they made a tower defense game that is on par with geoDefense and Plants vs. Zombies? Or should we abandon our posts as we watch it all topple?
Initially, the differences between Cubemen 2 and its predecessor appear to only be done in regards to the previous game's UI with the addition of a few extra units. In other words, this game is merely an updated version of the previous game, which was released just a year ago. Most of the major changes 3 Sprockets implemented have been done outside of the gameplay. Players are now able to design their own levels, download and try out other player-made levels, and can play different game modes. Two new concepts added in are the ability to sacrifice characters to retain cube points and reallocating statistics to differentiate between defensive and offensive characters. The result is an interesting twist on the mechanics of these tower defense characters in order to help hide the fact that not much else was changed.
The controls of Cubemen 2 are rather simple: one finger taps can select units and tiles, one finger drags will pan the screen, two finger drags will rotate the camera, and pinch close/open motions will zoom out/in. Even on an iPad, sending your characters to an untended tile in the middle of a heated battle is unfortunately common. If it was this bad while playing on an iPad, it surely must be even tougher for those playing on an iPhone. With the chaos of battle throughout the screen, combined with flimsy tile detection, smaller concepts like sacrificing pieces and redistributing attributes are easily forgotten and left for the dedicated few who wish to master the game.
For an iOS title, the sound effects and music of Cubemen 2 remain relatively simple and is oddly reminiscent of early-to-mid '90s PC titles. Much of the music is taken directly from the first Cubemen and is frequently repeated. If you don't like the Warcraft-esque title theme, you might want to put the music on mute, because making the title theme and tower defense match theme the same track was an atrocious idea. Even though it seems like the sound effects try to reflect the simple cube-inspired graphics, they are just as dull and repetitive as the game's soundtrack.
Cubemen 2 has the ability for multiplayer matches, building beyond the first game's 1v1 and now supports up to six players, but good luck trying to find anyone to play with. As of this review, "No games currently waiting for players", was the only thing that was ever found while trying to partake in any form of multiplayer over multiple playthroughs during peak hours of the day.
Cubemen 2's alternate game modes stray from being strictly a tower defense game, letting players play in ingenious ways, such as Rescue, Skirmish, Capture the Flag, and Territory. Rescue is where you must escort VIPs from one base to another as you attempt to prevent enemies from gunning them down. You might think that Territory would play similarly to a king of the hill-type match, but it is actually quite different. In Territory, soldiers will paint every tile they walk on with their team color, opposing teams can override your color tiles, and the team with the most painted tiles by the end of the timer wins.
Ultimately, most of this game feels as though it should have been patched into the original and it plays almost exactly the same. The hardly noticeable Fred-to-Larry change, adding in temporary walls and mines, and the elimination of Mike the Medic are frugal attempts at making noteworthy changes to the core gameplay. Re-skinning soldiers, adding a few more players to a nonexistent multiplayer format, and tossing in some CTF to the original game should not be labelled as a sequel. If this was to be a real sequel, there should have been more definitive additions included, such as turrets or bunkers. Even though the cost is minimal, there are better tower defense apps that you could buy for the same price. But if you're on a Minecraft binge and want a tower defense game made in a similar aesthetic, then Cubemen 2 might be exactly what you're looking for.