The Tower Defense King Returns

10/01/2014 by Matt Heywood | Source: Entertainment Buddha
Hidden Path’s Defense Grid 2 is the sequel to 2008’s Defense Grid: The Awakening, which went on to be the de facto standard for killer tower defense (TD) gameplay on consoles and PCs. In fact, thanks to DG:TA, many console-only gamers finally got a chance to experiment with the tower defense genre, which has now gone on to be a staple gameplay model found in mobile, console, and PC games alike.

Defense Grid 2, which is now available for the PC, PS4, and Xbox One platforms, manages to successfully employ the addictive gameplay featured in the original, albeit with much more flair and a multiplayer component. The brilliant intuitive tower defense gameplay remains in tact in the sequel, and it once again proves why this particular franchise is considered to be one of the best examples of the strategy heavy genre. As the Commander you are tasked to work with a litany of AI constructs to thwart an alien takeover so humanity can once again settle the galaxy. Unfortunately, aliens seek to destroy humanity at all costs by launching attacks on power cores, so it’s up to you and your team of Cortana-like AI to defend against these attacks throughout the game’s twenty-one levels of single-player campaign action.

There is a story attached to the campaign, and it’s a deep one at that, but it’s only told through radio chatter between the bickering AI, and a few static text blocks in-between missions. This makes the narrative kind of hard to follow, because the zany cast of AI constructs constantly chatter about their missions and side missions in an attempt to save humanity’s power cores. The voice acting is amazing, which is a shame considering that the characters and narrative of Defense Grid 2 are more or less forgettable thanks to the way they’re delivered. A cutscene or two would have helped to paint a clearer picture of what Defense Grid 2’s story tries to relate, and giving the various AI characters some sort of avatar versus a silhouette outline of a face would have also added a bit more personality to the tale. Overall the story just feels secondary to the gameplay action, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing in a tower defense game, especially one like Defense Grid 2.

Thanks to the excellent tower defense gameplay in Defense Grid 2 the hard to follow narrative isn’t nearly as big as an issue as it could be. Hidden Path has nailed the frantic feeling of a tower defense game with solid controls and intuitive gameplay that doesn’t require a manual to master, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the game is a walk in the park either. Players are tasked with placing upgradeable towers, which range from guns to temporal devices that can slow the march of oncoming invaders, throughout the map to make the alien’s journey to your power cores as painful as possible. These towers can be placed anywhere on a map as long as there’s a white square outline present. Resources are required to build towers and upgrade them, and can be earned slowly during an oncoming wave with a bonus payout occurring in between waves. This ensures that each tower you build must be strategically placed for maximum results, so not only are you racing against the alien onslaught while trying to make tactical decisions, but you’re also up against a resource meter that prevents you from spamming towers as you see fit.

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