Defense Grid Review

Defense Grid Review

September 21, 2009 0 By 360 Junkies
Game Name:Defense Grid
Platforms:Xbox LIVE Arcade
Publisher(s):Aspyr Media
Developer(s):Hidden Path Entertainment
Genre(s):Strategy & Simulation
Release Date:9/2/2009
ESRB Rating:E10 (Everyone 10+)
Price:800 MSP
Demo:Add to Download Queue

Written by Derek “mirpkered” Prim

‘We need more cannons on the right side!’ ‘Wait that exposes our left rear!’ ‘Quick put a turret on the back wall!’. How many times have you heard these phrases? Unless you’re a castle designer or having one hell of a snowball fight, these are not normal exclamations made in typical conversation. However, when playing games of the growing Tower Defense genre, it’s OK to make these statements. I can’t promise that people won’t look at you a little odd but at least you can give a good reason for the yelling.

Story
Defense Grid takes place in a futuristic environment. The main objective is that Aliens have started an invasion. To make matters worse they have come to harvest what power is left on our planet in the form of cores that are located around a central point on the map. Players will encounter multiple types of enemies along the way from flying to enemies that spawn more while walking. If the cores are taken, 24 in total, then the level is over and your computer friend, whom is met at the beginning of the game, shuts down.

Weapons
There are quite a few weapons available for this game and usually each level beaten in The Awakening campaign a new tower is introduced. To purchase towers, resources are required. Resources are in turn earned by defeating enemies. While some towers are not particularly useful, I’ll point out some of my favorites.

Temporal Tower – This is one of the most useful towers I encountered in the game, and luckily it is received early on. While it does not attack, it does have one awesome function. This tower sends out a pulse every few seconds and any enemy within the pulse field is slowed to a crawl. This used in conjunction with other towers in the game can prove to be a lethal combination

Laser Tower – Just as it says… This is a tower that fires a laser. However, there are some special properties about this tower. While boasting a nice attack range and decent damage, this tower also continues to cause burn damage to enemies after they have left the towers range of attack. This is especially useful at the front of an enemy route.

Meteor Tower – This is probably my favorite tower. This tower has an extremely large range of attack but then is slower with its rate of fire. But with every disadvantage, a silver lining appears. This time it is in the form of the fact that this tower does area damage instead of single enemy damage. This makes destroying small groups of aliens a breeze.

Gun Tower – The basic gun tower. While it has a low attack, this tower does have a moderate range and rate of fire. This is the initial tower that is started out with as well and will be a staple in any map. Also with a low cost, they can be used as obstructions too.

In addition to having some cool towers available, each tower can be upgraded to a level 3 tower, usually increasing stats of one or two tower attributes. Also, if needed, a player can sell towers to gain back resources. While the towers stated above are some of my favorites but it is up to the player to decide the strategy that works best for them.

Gameplay/Controls
The gameplay really is smooth in terms of how responsive the controls are. This really cuts down on frustration since a lot of the choices for the types of towers are menu based. And while we all can agree that games of this nature are better with a mouse, the analog stick really does a good job on moving the cursor to desired locations. Also one other major plus for gameplay is the speed at which the game progresses. Unlike some tower defense game that just send wave after wave after wave without pausing. This allows a pause between each wave usually so that players may upgrade the towers, build new defenses, or let cores return to the main base. Also the camera system can me moved to one of 3 views. Close up, what I call a region view, and a broad aerial view. However, I never used this function as I preferred the broad aerial view at all times. One other great feature is the fact that the player can speed up time by holding RB, This is great when having a delay between waves and all is caught up.

Instead of sticking with a stale formula that is the same layout for every level, we are also given new enemies to defeat each level in addition to older enemies and the ability to manipulate the path enemies have to take to reach a core.

Graphics
Graphically for an XBLA game, I’m impressed. One of the first things that will be noticed is the fluid motion of everything on the screen. Whether this is the aliens moving along to the guns a’blazin, the game never seems to miss a beat, err… pixel. In later levels with hordes of enemies on the screen and tons of shots being fired in every direction, the game never slowed down.

Audio
While all this is going on, it is hard to believe that there’s still background music during the mayhem. However, it doesn’t seem to detract or add anything to the mood of the game. The best portion are the phrases belted our by the computer system to explain that cores are being taken or that I have a new tower available. I know that there was a few times that if the computer hadn’t stated that cores were being taken, I would not have noticed.

Pros/Cons:

Pros:

  • For an XBLA game, it is graphically stable and able to keep up with the pace of all that is going on in the level without any slow down.
  • Each level introduces a new concept that keeps a player from feeling that they are doing the same thing over and over.
  • The concepts introduced are great and will keep a player on their toes throughout the game.
  • Unlockables! Once the main campaign is finished, new maps become available to play.
  • It looks as though that there is definitely room for some DLC in the future of this game.

Cons:

  • Levels are sometimes borderline to large and require that the player move around the map a lot to keep up with what’s going on.
  • It seems that the game is single player only. This is unfortunate as there are some good things that could be done with Multiplayer on this game or user created content.

Final Judgment
This game in the tower defense genre is a step above most others in the fact that gameplay, actually, is more than just placing units. The game makes player think about how to manipulate alien routes, what type of aliens are weak against what type of towers, and what’s the best way to protect cores. All these answers may vary from player to player but it’s worth the 800 MSPoints ($10) that the game costs to find out.

DISCLAIMER: There is currently a bug with this game playing properly on some systems. If you have purchased the full game and notice it freezing initially there is a work around. Sign out of your console and start the game trial. Once it gets to the ‘Press Start’ screen, sign into your console. This will allow you to play the full game until a patch is available.