Defense Grid 2 Review: Tower Warders, Under Orders

09/26/2014 by Marshall Honorof | Source: Tom's Guide
When the alien invasion begins, you could take up arms against a sea of troubles — or you could let technology do it instead. In Defense Grid 2, an alien invasion threatens to upend human civilization, and all that stands between the aliens and complete global domination is a bunch of colorful towers.

Defense Grid 2 does not break new ground in the tower-defense genre, but that's pretty much its worst offense. The title offers tight strategic gameplay with a wealth of options and a story that's much better than it needs to be.

As Defense Grid 2 is a tower-defense game, you'll spend most of your time building and upgrading towers. A standard level plays out something like this: You start with a limited number of resources and a large map. Aliens enter the map, advance toward a stash of power cores and then retreat back toward the entrance with their ill-gotten gains. The towers you construct can stop them with guns, cannons, lasers, time-distortion fields, electricity and lots of other destructive toys.

A tower-defense game in which you build defensive towers is not exactly going to rewrite the book on strategy games, but Defense Grid 2 has a number of unconventional features.

Unlike most tower-defense games, you have two chances to decimate your foes: once on the way in, and once on the way out. If you kill an alien holding a power core, you can get it back — unless the alien hands off the core to one of its alien companions before it expires.

Most important, most maps let you shape the aliens' path across the level. Aliens come in a staggering variety, including slow-moving foot soldiers, speedy racers, stealthy hunters and enormous boss units that can withstand a salvo of fully upgraded towers and carry its weight in cores. None of them can cut through towers, though, so you can construct circuitous routes lined with devastating structures that force them to zigzag through kill corridors — and if you want to survive, you'd better embrace this strategy.

Defense Grid 2 is a difficult game in which the challenge ramps up about five missions in and never scales back down. Learning where to place towers, how to direct aliens and how to make use of your limited special abilities (such as slowing down time or temporarily empowering all the towers in a given area) is often all that stands between you and losing every last one of your cores.


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