Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC) Review

Normally, I don't exceptionally like Tower Defense games. However, after playing Defense Grid: The Awakening, my entire perspective changed. First of all, it's not a flash game--which is a first for me. In addition, it's 3D. That means that instead of just winding passageways, there can also be vertical advancements, so that enemies can go under platforms to get to the cores, and you have a much longer time to prepare.

Speaking of cores, let's explain what they are. Instead of going by traditional TDS rules--e.g. Having only one "end" and not two--, they decided to do something else. Each mission has an obelisk containing around twenty power cores--your lives. When an enemy reached this obelisk, they take as many power cores as they can carry--which is normally around one. Instead of immediately losing these power cores, players instead have to shoot down the enemies as they run towards the end of the level! A lot of the time, the end of the level is the same as the entrance, but there can be multiple entrances and exits. As long as players shoot down the aliens before they get to the exit, they drop the power cores and the cores slowly float towards the obelisk. There is a rule here though--if flying enemies take a core, there's no getting them back even if you kill them!

In addition, flying enemies have a different path than walking enemies. At the beginning of each round, the flight path is shown in a yellow line. Only guns, cannons, and missiles can take down flying enemies, so be sure to have these. Players can see the flight path by pressing T, in case they forget. Most flying enemies are easily taken down, though they are numerous in number.

Possibly one of the greatest annoyances is the amount of enemies! They just keep coming in through the entrances, and guns have a very hard time taking them down. Speaking of guns, there are a lot of them to be had. Everything from the gun tower to the temporal tower. Gun towers are obviously towers that have guns attached to the top. Temporal Towers slow down enemies, making it a lot easier for players. Laser towers shoot a constant beam at one enemy, hurting him and catching him on fire, so that even when the tower stops shooting, the enemy is damaged constantly. In addition, there's the Tesla Tower. The Tesla Tower fires rather quickly. However, the longer a Tesla Tower goes without shooting, the more powerful its next attack will be. Of course, there are many more towers than that. Towers can be upgraded from green to yellow to red. At level red, towers are insanely powerful, though even with a ton of red towers, I find it extremely difficult to beat the game! There are a few levels that seem impossible, no matter the tower combination.

The graphics in Defense Grid are very stunning. At first, you start the game to be greeted with a simple menu--nothing extraordinary there. Then you launch the game and BAM! Instant gratification. I absolutely loved the graphical style in Defense Grid, and hope that whatever these guys make next has equally stunning graphics. There's nothing more to be said about the graphics except the fact that they're really enjoyable.

The sound effects, however, are few and far between. There are only a few--seperate ones for the towers, various alien sounds, and finally clicking sounds for mouse-overs. That's it! Also, there seems to be only a single song, looping over and over. This goes unnoticed, yet if you really take the time to notice this fact, it gets irritating. The voice actor for the computer was surprisingly good. You can easily tell the emotion in his voice, making the immersion into the game a lot deeper. The voice actor truly is spectacular, to say the least.

Through short dialogues, players learn the gist of the story--long ago, a similar battle took place. The computer had a son, Zeke--he died, unfortunately. For some reason, he calls the player Zeke once--whether this is a mistake on the developer's side, or the computer thinking you're his son is unsure. The story doesn't seem to be very deep--all the player gets is the rough outline, which is not nearly enough. I would have loved to see cutscenes of the past or maybe some pictures.

Defense Grid
entices players to come back to it again and again, striving to find better strategies that leave them with a higher score. In addition to the story mode, there's "story challenge" and other such modes. This forces players to come back and try their absolute hardest to create a winning strategy. This is rather difficult, though--it's almost impossible to win with a good strategy, but perfecting it just makes my whole body convulse.


All of this added together makes one awesome game. I wouldn't be surprised if they continue making such quality games and become the next big game developers. Though it is rather fun, it's insanely difficult. This obviously deterrs players that simply want a fun game that doesn't require a lot of thinking.  Such a game gets an eight out of a possible ten.

"Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC)" is on sale December 3, 2008 and is rated E10+. Action, Fighting, Shooter, Strategy. Developed and published by Hidden Path Entertainment.

Josh Coffey


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