Set on a farm full of cows, Beware Planet Earth! sees you repelling the incoming Martians whose sole mission is to steal your precious bovines and return them to their ship via crop circles. Being a tower defense game, these Martians have to follow a predetermined path through the fields to reach the cows; your job is to line the path with towers that will destroy them.
Towers range from standard constructs that shoot at individual Martians, to fridges that slow them down and BBQ-style towers that spew hot coals towards groups of invaders. There are also a few items you can place on the Martians’ path such as landmines or cow bombs that deal a lot of damage to nearby units.
Much like in Plants Vs Zombies, one tower type produces cogs, which are the resource required to build more towers. Cogs will periodically appear on the towers and it’s down to you to click them in order to gain the resource. In the early stages of each level it is vital that you build up a good cog farm, otherwise you won’t be able to build enough towers later.
You have to choose which towers to take into battle before each level, and selecting the right group is just as important as the strategic placing. Take the wrong towers and you can guarantee the Martians will run away with your cows. Fortunately, before each level you can peek into the alien ship and see what types of Martians will be thrown at you. If you see a group of quick Martians you know to bring along some fridges, where as heavily armored Martians will require a lot of fire power to bring them down.
There are many different Martians and they all have unique traits. Some will be quick but have low health whereas other will be the opposite. Spy Martians will fool your towers into not attacking them unless you remove their disguises and scientist Martians will create shields around others that need to be destroyed. To destroy these things you need to use the ray gun, a device handed to you within the first few levels of the game.
The ray gun, when selected, will replace your mouse cursor and left clicking will fire it. Click on a spy Martian and its disguise will fly off, making it venerable to towers. If a scientist creates a shield the ray gun can destroy it, and it can also be used to do very minor amounts of damage to Martians. The ray gun can also supercharge towers to make them work even faster, but after a short while of working fast they will be burnt out and not able to fire for a few seconds. A cowbell can be used to get your cows to run faster back to the safety of the field.
The ray gun and cowbell, along with the clicking of the cogs, mean that you are never just sitting back and watching what’s going on, which makes a refreshing change. Always having to do something means you are always thinking and never feel bored.
Whilst always being busy keeps things entertaining, as the levels pass by they do start to become repetitive. The slow introduction of new towers and the occasional change of seasons do bring variety, and the few boss or challenge levels change the formula once in a while, but not often enough. Many of the levels feel samey and can generally be defeated in the same way.
VERDICT: Beware Planet Earth! certainly has some good ideas, and manages to stay entertaining throughout each level. Constantly having to do things keeps you interested, and never did I feel like I was just a passenger. A few more unique ideas such as the ray gun and we could have been looking at a truly revolutionary game, but as it is, Beware Planet Earth! only changes the formula slightly. The levels could do with a bit more variety, but as a whole the game is great fun and offers hours of play.
GOOD. A game that scores 7/10 is worthy of note, but unworthy of fanfare. It does many things well, but only a few of them incredibly well and, despite a handful of good qualities, fresh ideas and solid mechanics, it fails to overwhelm.
Review code provided by publisher.