Playing BTD 4
Where to begin? NinjaKiwi have pulled out all the stops with this game, making it one of the best tower defense flash games, if not the best tower defense game out there currently. There are still a couple of major issues to deal with, but that is for later.
To start with, you now have 8 different tracks of varying inherent difficulty, all with the option of choosing from 5 different modes: Easy, Medium, Hard, Sandbox, and "Apopalypse". Sandbox mode allows you to decide which balloons will come, which you can then proceed to pop with the towers built from your unlimited money over unlimited lives. The Apopalypse mode has balloons coming non-stop at you until you die. Yes, the name made that obvious, but still. You can unlock these modes at certain ranks, rank 26 for the Sandbox mode and rank 31 for the Apopalypse mode.
This brings us to the new ranking system. Every tower and upgrade bar the first few ones is now unlocked as you rise in rank until rank 31, by when you've finally unlocked everything. You need to keep popping a set number of balloons to raise a rank, with the number of balloons per rise increasing with every successive rank. Thankfully, the game saves your career rank if you allow it to, so you don't have to unlock everything all over again when you inevitably play the game again.
Speaking of towers and upgrades, the game features a boatload of new towers replete with awesome new upgrades. The Dart Monkey morphs into the Spike-o-pult of Bloons TD 3 when fully upgraded, you have flamethrowers for the Tack towers, camouflage detection for the Monkey beacons, "MOAB" destroyers for the Cannons, a lightsaber boomerang for the Boomerang and much more, including the Sun God upgrade for the Super Monkey which fires 3 plasma bolts in the time it used to fire once in the Plasma vision upgrades. The thing mows down balloons like a bulldozer crusading against ants. It's quite stunning to witness, really.
For tower innovations, you have the Mortar tower, which bombs one particular part of the track from anywhere on the field, the Glue Gunner, which spouts glue on balloons to slow them down, the Monkey Ace, which flies over the field dropping darts and explosives randomly on its preset path, the Monkey Buccaneer, which can be placed in water to fire missile-like darts, the Monkey Apprentice, a wizard-like entity complete with knowledge of monkey magic, which it uses to release fireballs and tornadoes, and lastly you have the Dartling Gun, which is apparently Rambo in all his machine-gunning glory, unlike the much vaunted Super Monkey. It fires darts non-stop wherever you point your cursor, adding a whole new dimension of strategy to the game. There's also something called Banana Farm, which farms bananas to earn money which is added to your total after every level.
To fight this veritable smorgasbord of overpowered defenses that the Monkey regime has to offer, the balloon invaders bring out their biggest weapon yet, something that is ostensibly the "Grandmother Of All Bloons", seeing as when you do finally break it open after what seems like decades of effort, you will find four of those hateful "MOABs" inside. Yes, not one, not two, but four. Apart from this (does anyone really need more?) you have the regular porcelain, rainbow, lead, black etc. balloons. There are also new Zebra balloons, which split into black and white balloons when popped, and Camouflaged balloons, which no tower can hit unless they have a beacon nearby upgraded to find them. Challenging is an understatement for Tower Defense 4.
What that does though is give you so many ways in which to construct a good defense that there is no one strategy that is guaranteed to succeed (or, likewise, doomed to fail). It is clear though that focusing on construction towards the middle of the maps where parts of the track run close should serve well on most levels.
Lastly, you now have something called Mochi Coins, which you can buy through real money and then use them to buy upgrades in the game that aren't normally available. Not a very good development, in truth.
How it looks
The graphics have really improved, and not in the intrusive sort of way. They are still simplistic, but are streamlined and clearer, with greater detail without it intruding upon the gameplay itself. Audio is a disappointment, because for once it isn't non-existent. Yes, they have a song in the soundtrack, which while not annoying to begin with, will feel like it when you fail for the umpteenth time to pass that level with endless MOABs. It also lags the game once you're in Freeplay mode. You're allowed to mute the music, so that's a plus point.
Worthy or not?
Is Bloons Tower Defense 4 the greatest td game ever? Almost, but for two major issues. First, the Mochi Coins. It's understandable that they want to make money, and the Mochi coin upgrades aren't exactly essential to the game, but it is sad to see a great series go down that route. And secondly, there is still no grid, so you're still looking for pixels of space all over the map. All in all, it's almost there in terms of being the best tower defense flash game out there, which still makes it a very, very good game.