Posted on September 26, 2014, Janelle Bonanno Defense Grid 2 Review: Hold the Line
Wave 25 is upon me, and with half of my power cores lost, there are still five more waves left to contend with. A candy-colored array of towers endlessly shoot lasers and barrage the incoming beasts with fire and brimstone, but none of it is enough. I fast-forward until the final stragglers of the wave hit my reactor, stealing a number of cores, with me waiting for the optimal moment to upgrade some towers while there’s a lull in the shooting. But I second-guess myself, and am just not clicking fast enough.
“Shit.” I dejectedly mutter, as the last of them scuttle away with a few more cores, and yet, it is too early to tell whether all is lost.
Welcome to Defense Grid 2.
Back in 2008, Defense Grid: The Awakening released to critical acclaim in the tower defense genre. Swaths of players were introduced to 20 levels of alien intruders and power core defense. Now, Hidden Path Entertainment has released its successor, Defense Grid 2. Brought to life by a successful Kickstarter campaign, it seeks to set the bar as the definitive tower defense game across all platforms. And it sets the bar high.
Defense Grid 2
Platform: PC (Reviews), PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Sept. 23, 2014
The premise of Defense Grid is simple – the aliens want what we have and we don’t want to give it to them. Humanity has expanded its reach amongst the stars with colonies and planets throughout the galaxy. Unfortunately for us, we’ve come under attack by aliens, and there are a plethora of them. Their endless waves seek to steal our power cores for the Void, whatever that means, and threaten civilization as we know it. Taking on the role of Commander, it is up to the player to activate defense grids to protect our precious cores and save humanity as we now know it.
The story is relayed to players via load screens and quippy banter between AI compatriots, but simply provides a foundational backstory to your alien-zapping prerogative. Don’t expect any stunning cut scenes or in-depth immersion.
Like in Defense Grid 2’s its predecessor, your main task is guarding power cores on pre-set maps in order to protect human colonies on distant planets, all done in a top-down view. Built on an entirely new engine, players of the original Defense Grid will find a more seamless and graphically enhanced experience. But even when you’re zoomed in, the graphics won’t exactly blow you out of the water. This is negligible, however, as you’ll be spending most of your time at a zoomed-out viewpoint, assessing your strategy. The enhancements from the original don’t end with prettier visuals: Defense Grid 2 features entirely new maps, enemies, towers, and a new single-player story campaign, different from the original’s.
As you progress through the story, you amass a team of AI generals to help along the way, each with their own special ability that has a cool-down timer. The game starts you off with General Cai and her orbital laser of doom, which obliterates every alien in its path. Other generals’ abilities will enhance towers or your resource collection, the importance of which goes beyond building towers, as leftover resources add to your overall score.
More importantly, you’ll also amass a bevy of towers at your alien fighting disposal, and unlock tower upgrades as you progress, giving towers customized abilities to enhance your strategy. For example, guns can be forced to focus fire on the strongest enemy within their range, rather than the closest ones.