Unstoppable Gorg Launches Atmospheric Sci-Fi Tower Defense

Posted: January 21, 2012 in Tower Defense

One of the more underappreciated movies of the 1980s was Matinee, a film starring John Goodman that highlighted the sci-fi era of the 1950s.  While not a plot heavy by any means, the flick does a wonderful job of recreating the fun of the times, while emphasizing the power of showmanship.  The same can be said for Futuremark’s Unstoppable Gorg, a fixed path space tower defense game that captures the spirit of the sci-fi 50s with attention-grabbing newsreels while delivering an engaging gaming experience with caveats.

The scientists of Earth discover life on the unoriginally named Planet X so what do we Earthlings do?  Of course, we send out a welcome committee led by dashing Captain Adam and hubba hubba Miss Solar System Arielle.  I’m sure Donald Trump and Ryan Seacrest already have that in the works.  Low and behold, Planet X ruler King Gorg isn’t exactly in the mood for guests, and sends out an armada to destroy the solar system.

The first thing you’ll see are the great newsreel scenes which set the stage for each battle, all complete with heart racing narratives and mood setting soundtrack.  Unlike many games where the storyline sort of fades away and in some cases completely disappears, the devs do a terrific job of weaving the story throughout.

Unstoppable Gorg has 3 modes of play: Story, Challenges and Arcade.  Story mode follows a 21-chapter storyline.  Challenges offers 21 different self-contained levels each with their own number of challenging elements.  Arcade offers unlimited attack waves within different scenarios that are unlocked based on progress in Story mode.  In addition, the game offers 4 levels of difficulty: Easy, Moderate, Hard and Unstoppable.

As is typical with tower defense games, Unstoppable Gorg provides a number of defense weapons including blast cannons, missile launchers bullet spitting Vulcans.  At its foundation, the main components of your space defense are the Research Lab and the Generators.  The Generators not only provide energy, but serve as the key revenue source that can used to purchase weapons and upgrades.  On the flip side, the Research Lab allows you to earn tokens to be used for weapons upgrades during the game which will be useful as you seek to boost strength, range and damage.  Of course, units can be upgraded and sold as needed.

Of course, the Gorgs have their own set of toys launch by the Gorg Mothership.  These include the Saucer, Bomber, Abductor, and the Drone among others each specific attributes from strength to damage.  If you can’t keep all that straight, there’s a useful encyclopedia where profiles and attributes are provided.

At the beginning of each level, players are given the opportunity to select the weapons of choice and upgrade as appropriate with tokens earned.  During gameplay, medals can also be earned to maximize scores.

Investor Medal—money earned via generators and displayed on the Star Bar

Scientist Medal—upgrades earned through research labs and displayed on the Blue Bar

Defender Medal—awarded when the space station is not damaged

Engineer Medal—awarded when defenses are not damaged or are at maximum strength

Medals and tokens are all tracked within the game complemented by online leaderboards on GameCenter.

Unstoppable Gorg does deliver some fast paced gameplay as you defend the various star bases from attack.  The twist in Unstoppable Gorg is that not only do you place satellites and generators in orbit, but you can also manipulate the orbit during the game to better destroy attacking enemies.  The touch controls are pretty straightforward and work rather well.  In fact, the basics of the game are easy to learn.  Being able to rotate the orbit provides a unique challenge since this inevitably has the potential to impact other weapons that happen the share the same orbit.  It’s helpful that gas trails appear to illustrate the path of enemy attacks.

I would advise starting on Easy mode at least initially as Moderate can be quite difficult.  But, you can change level of difficulty from level to level, so the game should appeal to a broad audience regardless of experience.

Something that needs highlighting is the open slots for the placement of weapons.  Because slots are fixed although they vary from stage to stage for the placement of satellites, labs and generators, this can be viewed both as a positive and a negative part of the game.  You’re limited by the number of slots and once those slots are filled, additional defensive units can’t be built or added unless existing units are sold and then upgraded.  Revenue at that point can only be used to repair weapons.  In other words, even by earning additional money from destroying enemies or building generators, I was limited by the number of open slots.  Part of me struggled with the fact that I couldn’t simply buy and place more weapons.

On the other hand, the limited spots provide an additional layer of challenge to the gameplay which I actually liked.  The allure of tower defense games is that they combine time management with resource allocation.  Because the attack waves can come from anywhere on the screen, you do often have to plan several steps ahead.  Often, minimizing the movement of orbits will be more effective than constantly changing them as this can draw away fire power leaving you vulnerable to other attacks.

While Story mode provides an ample amount of gameplay, I think players will actually find that the Challenges offer much more enjoyment.  Here you’ll find a number of game elements that make the game more entertaining simply because they add to the difficulty.  In certain cases, you’ll find that orbits cannot be manipulated or money takes longer to generate.

Unstoppable Gorg is a great tower defense offering especially for those who enjoy the genre.  The fixed path approach is subject to individual preference, and admittedly, I do wish there was more flexibility in the number of units I could place.  Having said that, the devs have created a well-presented, nostalgic environment for those who want something different in their tower defense library.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (atmospheric space tower defense that delivers a challenging experience; fixed path along with ability to rotate orbits adds nice twist; Challenge mode is a good bonus that many will likely enjoy; newsreels and eerie soundtrack round out high-product package)


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