It's getting to the point where tower defense games are so common these days that it takes something really special to make one stand out from the pack. With its straightforward military theme and basic presentation, SNAFU Tower Defense is about as dull and nondescript as they come. Despite all that, it manages to scrape together some rock-solid tower defense gameplay that's quite challenging. The situation may seem normal, but it definitely gets all fudged up pretty quickly.
Like most games in the genre, SNAFU Tower Defense plunks you down on a map marked with clear entry and exit points. Using limited funds, you must purchase and lay down defensive towers designed to keep the near-constant flood of enemies that swarm at you from breaking through your position and reaching their goal at the opposite end of the screen. You'll survive if a few baddies make it through alive, though a portion of your health will take a hit instead. If that runs out completely, then the war is lost.
There are seven different defenses at your disposal to help you keep that from happening. Though they don't cause damage, barricades are single square blocks that can be dropped down to help influence enemy troop movement and route them directly into your line of fire. Standard towers like machine gun nests, long-range artillery, and limited but extremely powerful mortar cannons will get the most use due to their affordability and versatility. More specialized towers – like SAMs that fire rockets at airborne enemies, microwave towers that slow troops with energy blasts, and EMP towers that knock out mechanical foes – are great for sticky situations.
The foes you'll face are about as uninspiring as the weaponry you'll wield, but that doesn't make them any less deadly. Weak foot soldier grunts pave the way for jeeps, trucks laden with additional troops, heavy tanks, helicopters, and even jumbo jets. Tackling a few at a time is an easy feat for a few well-placed gun towers, though you'll need to continually spend more money to upgrade the towers you've placed to handle the higher traffic that comes your way in later waves. One cool feature is individual tower A.I. can be manually set to target the strongest foes within range, the weakest foes, or the ones closest to your goal line.
Each of the 10 different operations in the game comes with a map that has its own unique layout, choke points, and strategic opportunities. You'll battle it out at river crossings, in the middle of a village square, at a gas station, on a series of islands, in a gladiatorial arena, and even atop high mountain peaks. The maps range in size, and it can take anywhere from 20 minutes to close to an hour to finish a level. After defeating a wave you can advance the next one earlier for a better score, but the extra time can also be put to better use upgrading the gear you've got laid out across the battlefield.