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Patrol dangerous waters

Navy Patrol: Advanced Premium is the paid version of Navy Patrol, a naval-themed tower-defense game with several innovative features but a surprising number of missteps for such an expensive and mature app.

Navy Patrol: Advanced Premium is the paid version of Navy Patrol, a naval-themed tower-defense game with several innovative features but a surprising number of missteps for such an expensive and mature app.

For the most part, Navy Patrol is a traditional open-map tower-defense game, in which you place defensive towers in a strategic pattern to defeat incoming waves of enemies before they reach your base. Fans of tower defense will find a lot to like here, with a handful of different upgradable tower types and some cool extras like tower-specific targeting controls (for tracking fast, strong, or weak enemies), optional airstrips, underwater units, and the occasional appearance of a menacing aircraft carrier, which has jets that can fly over your carefully planned defenses. Navy Patrol's most fun innovation is its "special" upgrade system, which lets you spend points on three separate paths (offense, defense, and tech). Powering up these paths unlocks temporary, arcade-style abilities that you use in real time--everything from increasing damage or range for towers in a small radius to calling in missile strikes or swipe-controlled orbital lasers. It's difficult to survive without using these "specials," so players get to make some interesting decisions about which paths to power up, and what abilities to use and when.

Despite its many qualities, Navy Patrol also presents quite a few frustrations, which might be more forgivable in a less expensive app. The interface is crowded and sometimes obscures the action (especially as aircraft carriers skirt the edge of the play grid), levels are uniformly long and repetitive, and the game still crashes frequently for some users, although thankfully progress is usually saved. The graphics and sound effects are sharp in some ways (especially with some of the special power animations) but slipshod in others (for example, the game's constant, monotonous outboard-motor rumble, and the "highly realistic" water effects, which are out of scale with the action and have no visible effect on ships). Navy Patrol's biggest fault--and also its most fixable one--is the lack of a tutorial level or convenient guide. The game includes video guides, but these are incomplete and difficult to navigate--and they refer you to a website with spam-choked forums and no additional information.

We hope to see improvements in future releases of Navy Patrol, but in the meantime tower-defense fans would do well to check out the more limited, ad-supported Navy Patrol: Coastal Defense, to get a feel for the game before buying.

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