Defense Grid: You Monster review

12/12/2011 by Cameron Lewis | Source: Official Xbox Magazine

Defense Grid has expanded its absorbing and accessible tower-defense trials since it launched more than two years ago, but You Monster is no mere map pack. It has GLaDOS — the rogue-A.I. mistress of the Portal series — taking a break from torturing test subjects to invade your custom-built mazes of auto-fire cannons.

As you might expect, most of the eight levels in the new campaign are decorated to resemble the bleached-white chambers of Aperture Science, complete with modular paneling and security cameras. GLaDOS brings more to the table than wry dialogue and the aesthetic sense of a hospital administrator, though.

Your new taskmaster is perfectly happy to toss the rulebook in a shredder at any moment. She sells towers out from under you without warning, opens new doors for armored aliens to march through, changes the behavior of familiar elements, and worse. In most games, such arbitrary disregard for the rule of law would do little but set your teeth on edge; in Monster, every scripted moment of malicious mischief helps to cook up an offbeat atmosphere of anxiety and impending doom, tempered by laughter and (eventual) triumph.

You might fight your way through GLaDOS' story-mode treachery in under four hours, but 34 simple yet tricky Challenge Mode variants (99 waves, tower-usage limits, and so on) will keep diehards coming back for ages. You Monster may not convert every tower-defense holdout, but it's definitely one of the most devious and memorable bits of DLC we've played.

PUBLISHER: Hidden Path Entertainment • DEVELOPER: Hidden Path Entertainment • ESRB: Everyone 10+ • MULTIPLAYER: None • ACHIEVEMENTS: Tough • COST: 400 Microsoft Points ($5)

On Xbox Live Arcade

+ Eight story-mode missions filled with unexpectedly inventive rule changes and clever floor plans.

+ All the off-kilter humor and spoilsport venom you'd expect from Portal's villain.

– Clean white rooms and simple catwalks aren't all that visually interesting.

? How come Chell never makes an appearance?

Verdict: 8.5