Defense Grid: The Awakening Reader Review
The best use of 800 Microsoft Points you'll find*
Defense Grid doesn't need to be in 3D. Anyone who's played one of the many 2D tower defence games will know how this works: enemies enter somewhere on a grid, exit somewhere and between those two locations the player can place various towers, each with their own strengths, to prevent any enemy getting from A to B.
DG does add a bit to the genre - there's a story, a charming Bertie Wooster/WW2 pilot-style assistant who provides the tutorial and explains each new tower's purpose. The concept of power cores is, to my knowledge, new - hold onto the cores or you lose the level, but cores can be whisked away by another alien, even if you destroy the alien who first nabbed it from your power station.
The graphics do add something to the game, making it pleasant on the eye with excellent fluid animations, and it isn't all just for show - some levels make particularly good use of the third dimension, bringing enemies over and under each other, or allowing the scenery to get in the line-of-sight of towers, making tactical placement all the more important.
Where the game succeeds though is getting the challenge just right - it's easy to get into, and you'll get through the main story mode quite quickly, but getting gold medals on all of the story challenge levels (harder versions of the originals) is both surprisingly engaging and, sometimes, very difficult.
Tower Defence games don't really lend themselves to multiplayer, so all you get here are leaderboards, but this is an excellent single player game. It had considerably more character and challenge than many full-priced games, and the finely tuned learning curve means it's still providing this writer entertainment months after purchase.
Hidden Path, the makers, have hinted at some new levels, and have just updated the game to make downloadable content possible. Get it now, complete it now and then savour the content when it comes.
10 / 10