Developer: Hidden Path Entertainment
Publisher: 505 Games
Platforms: PlayStation 4 (Tested), Xbox One, PC
Price: PS4 = £19.99
Download Size: 1.3GB
In the gaming world I have noticed that there are two types of people. Those that like tower defense games and those that despise them. I am in the former camp here. I love them. Theres something satisfying about working out your tower placements and upgrades and being ready for the oncoming wave of devious creatures that want to get past you and take away your precious whatever’s in order to destroy you. I played the original Defense Grid on Steam after having it recommended to me by a friend (Moonshiner1820 from http://www.ThreeTallNerds.com). I played this game to death and loved every minute of it. Sure, it had its points that it could improve on but what game doesn’t. Seeing Defense Grid 2 come to the console meant that this was a no brain decision for me. Come hell or high water, I will play Defense Grid 2. That’s all well and good but would it actually be any good?
Storyline wise the developers have tried to add something to keep you interested. You are given the thankless task along with other AI’s that you encounter on your intergalactic journeys of protecting power cores. These cores power human technology apparently and the enemy seem to want them for the same reasons….or they just like them because they are very shiny and we all know how enemies like shiny things. There is some crazy talk of raspberries and other rambling details to save the galaxy which is fun to listen to for a while. Its comedic in its delivery and the voice acting is competent. Is it deeply engaging, no. Would you listen to it during a second play through? Probably not but this is a tower defense game not a multi branching franchise based narrative so it’s not something that takes away from the whole experience, it just doesn’t give that much extra to what you already planned on doing during the game.
Upgrading towers is a simple affair. There are two upgrades per tower. Each increases its power and destructive abilities. Deciding which towers to upgrade and when is always the trick with tower defence games. As with the original Defence Grid, I would have liked to see some variety and extension to the upgrading ability. Maybe a points system for each attribute such as range, power, fire rate etc but unfortunately not in this case. For Defence Grid 2 it’s a case of simply pay the money and get the standard upgrade. It’s not a failing in the game as it does this solidly but I do think that it is a missed opportunity.
Graphically, Defense Grid 2 looks fantastic. Some people may not think so straight away and this is due to the perception of tower defence games by some. All the different towers are animated really well as well as the enemies. Theres something somewhat satisfying in seeing your tower lower into the ground and then rise back up with its new upgrades. All the different tower types have their own firing animation as you would expect and you can tell whats firing and where and even with a multitude of towers on screen firing at once you can still see the individual towers moving and targeting as well as the individual weapons firing. To test this I deliberately filled up every possible space with towers of all types to see if there was any slow down or confusion and im happy to say that there really wasn’t. The beauty of the different colours on screen as you battle it out against the enemies is in a way mesmerizing.
During my time with this title I went to play the multiplayer a few times. There are varies options to try including competitive and co-op. Even within the co-op there is options to play on the same map and place towers anywhere or only place them on your particular areas. All sounds varied and with other options including limiting the amount you can spend or upgrade towers etc you would think there would be enough to keep multiplayer fans interested. Here in lays the problem. For me at least and I can only go on my experiences, there really isn’t many people out there playing. Now Defense Grid 2 has been out a few weeks and I would have expected a good selection of players to be around to test my skills with in different scenarios. On the first attempt at playing competitively I waited for a match for 35 mins. I finally did get into a match which lasted a reasonable amount of time before ending but then my adversary left. On a second attempt I waited for 45 mins and this was with all the options open to any kind of match possible. Im not the kind of person that generally insists upon instant gaming gratification especially when dealing with online lobbies and matchmaking but when we are talking about 30 – 45 mins then I consider it to be too long a wait. The trouble is that this has nothing to do with the game itself really. From what I played the matches were stable and went well. All aspects of what the developers have placed into the multiplayer work fine, it just seems that there aren’t many people out there playing. Is this to do with people not liking the multiplayer or co-op aspects?? I wouldn’t have thought so personally as its more tower defense which is exactly what this game is all about. One saving grace for this matchmaking is that you can continue with single player matches while you wait for an online partner to be found so you don’t have to sit there waiting, and waiting in the vain hope someone will appear.
Interestingly, Defense Grid 2 was originally a kickstarter title. This project was successfully funded on August 14, 2012 and gained a following that helped it surpass its original goals which was originally a smaller title called Defense Grid: Containment but as they went over the original limit they promised multiplayer additions and in the end they were able to create the full Defense grid 2 title. With so many kickstarter games and projects falling by the wayside, its nice to see one make it to completion.
As a gaming experience it is, as any other tower defence game, a very different form of gaming. It is not the type of action packed shooter that requires lightning fast reactions or thought melting puzzles that define other genres. A tower defence game is one of planning at the beginning. Looking at the map and the options available to you and then putting your plan into motion. Enemies are almost inconsequential. In the end all must be wiped out no matter what they are or how many there are. Defense Grid 2 is no exception to this. The developers have put a story in between the maps and put effort in to trying to give the player more than the average game. I personally liked the story in as much as I listened to what was being said but did it engage me, did it draw me in and make me feel connected to anything in the game, well no. The real question is, Is it a good, competent tower defence game? Well……yes. Defense Grid 2 is a strong, playable, enjoyable title that has replayability in wanting to gain the highest score possible and completing maps and trying out new ways to use different towers in different combinations.
I can’t give Defence Grid top marks for a couple of reasons. As a tower defence fan I would like to but as an objective reviewer I can’t. Firstly the price, £19.99. I feel that this is a bit high. When you look at what else is on the PS4 store for similar prices I feel that there is more gameplay and more value out there for your money. A price reduction or a sale would push this title up the lists for many gamers. A suggested price in my opinion would be around the £12.99 – £15 mark. At the price it is now its just going up against titles that will otherwise overshadow Defense Grid 2. Secondly, If you are going to put a story into a game like this then there needs to be more engagement for the player. What is there is ok but I wouldn’t be clamering to listen to what was being said during a second play through.
Don’t get me wrong though, as a tower defence game this is a strong title worthy of consideration. It’s the kind of game you play between playing triple A titles. A palate cleanser if you will. If you are like me and like to plan out tower placements and get that next upgrade in order to decimate hoards of enemy attackers then you can’t go wrong with Defense Grid 2.