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Prison Defense: when good defense games go bad

Three police characters defend against a prisoner trying to escape in Prison Defense

Prison Defense is a strategic defense game reminiscent of Plants vs. Zombies except with police and prisoners. You play as the police trying to keep prisoners from escaping in 40 levels. Each level is set up in a similar way, there are a number of cages set up on the floor, players tap each crate to uncover either an enemy or a weapon. Players must then take a weapon they uncover and set it up on one side of the floor so it will be used against the enemies making their way from the right side of the floor. Since the enemies don't show up until after you open a cage with an enemy in it, you have a better chance of winning if you can get a weapon set up early but this is hard to do. Prison Defense is compatible with iPads running iOS 6.0.

Prison Defense features different enemy types from a basic light damage enemy to a heavy tank. This adds some variety to the gameplay as you have to tailor your strategy based on the type of enemy you are facing. However, this does not make the gameplay that much more interesting as you are still doing the same things as you were before with the less damaging enemies because even though you try putting the shotgun characters behind the bigger prisoners to damage them more. It feels more like luck if you are actually successful with this strategy when you don't know what is in each cage and how much health the enemies have left.

In the first 10 levels the difficulty quickly changes from very easy to extremely hard. The addition of new enemy types creates another challenge for players. They have to be very quick about their actions. Also, if they place a weapon in the wrong place the game is very punishing. Players can loss the level just by mistakenly placing one weapon in the wrong row.

Six police characters line up against four prisoners trying to escape in Prison Defense

Each level can be played in three different modes: normal, plus, and hard. The animations of the characters feels slow in the normal mode and players can be waiting for the game to end as they watch a prisoner escape by slowly walking to the wall. The plus mode gives players a scenario they have to play through. This can include such completing the level in a certain amount of time or in fast forward, which alleviates some of the slow gameplay. This mode was one of the more fun modes as it offers a challenge that is still enjoyable and players feel accomplished when they complete the scenario. Hard mode doesn't feel very different from the normal mode, the enemies seem a little stronger, but since the normal mode is already hard usually, the difficulty feels very similar.

The crates in Prison Defense are meant to give players a challenge by making them quickly open another crate that hopefully holds a weapon to use against the enemies, however, some of the crates are dangerous and contain TNT. The TNT doesn't seem to fit in very much with the gameplay as it hurts only your characters and not the prisoners. This makes the game extremely difficult if you have a great strategic defense set up and you happen to open the crate that destroys this defense. There is no way to get back that defense if you have opened up all the other crates with weapons in them and usually means the prisoners will escape.

End of level screen for Prison Defense

Sometimes the weapons in the cages you uncover disappear after a short period of time when you haven't gotten to set them up somewhere. One last downside of Prison Defense is that occasionally you will see a full screen ad that pops up after winning a level. This distracts from the gameplay and it is really easy to accidentally tap on the ad as you are expecting the button to continue.

Prison Defense is free on the App Store and has some similarities to Plants vs. Zombies which shows throughout the game. Some of the levels are too hard for most players to enjoy and it lacks the entertainment value of a humorous theme and gameplay. I do not recommended bothering with Prison Defense.

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