Defense Grid: The Awakening (XBLA)

By Steven Marsh

Published on Saturday, October 3, 2009

Graphics: 8.00
Sound: 7.50
Gameplay: 10.00
Replays: 9.00
Gamelength: 7.50

“Defense Grid: The Awakening” is an award-winning PC Tower Defense game with plenty of content to last, but how does the Xbox 360 version fare?

Note: Both versions of this game are nearly identical. The only real difference will be covered later in this article.

The tower defense genre is one that has taken the world by storm. Almost overnight, the genre that was once limited to game mods and flash games on the internet became a sensational genre with every theme from monkeys popping to balloons to the upcoming “South Park”-themed tower defense game. This one, however, is one of the more serious games of the genre and is host to nearly endless amounts of content for those who choose to get that into it. So, veteran fanatic or potential newcomer, it’s time to save our future from an all-out alien invasion in the hit tower defense game, “Defense Grid: The Awakening” for both the Xbox 360 and PC.

For a tower defense game, there’s no question about it; “Defense Grid: The Awakening” is the best-looking game of the genre. The framerate runs at a solid 60FPS, regardless of the platform or older hardware, yet still maintains a very slick appearance. There’s no fancy lighting or crazy graphics tricks, but the texture quality, level design and rock solid frame rate really pull this game ahead of the others.

While it’s not going to be the next set of tracks that go onto your media player, the soundtrack fits the atmosphere of the alien-infested future very well. There’s not much rock, intense electronic music or anything else that will have players nodding their heads to the beat, but there are plenty of war sounds, as well as great voice acting from the computer-based host character.

“Defense Grid: The Awakening” is a very fun, yet simple game. Don’t get me wrong; it’s extremely difficult at times for the inexperienced tower defense player. It’s just very simple to pick up and learn how to play. The concept of the game is very basic. In the very far future, the world is in danger of being completely taken over by aliens. With the help of an awakened guy embodied inside of a very complex computer system, it’s become your job to eliminate the alien threat. Most levels are as simple as “Stop the aliens from taking all of your power cores” and task the player with surviving through a set number of enemy waves. Power cores are essentially the hit points of the game and you only lose one when an alien runs through the level, grabs a power core and escapes with the core. To put it lightly, this translates to “Kill the aliens or die.” Every level has a different design, but the general concept changes a lot during the final few levels. Early on, the path is already laid out and you simply have to decide when to place which towers in order to maximize your firepower and make it through to the next level. Late in the game, however, there are many open spaces with seemingly endless amounts of tower tiles. During those levels, players must construct their own paths by building towers in order to force the aliens to move a certain way. Generally, this requires a ton of thought and will keep even the veteran players busy for a while. In total, there are 20 levels contained in the PC version, while the Xbox 360 has an extra 4 levels, for a total of 24 full levels. The Xbox 360’s extra levels are barebones, have no story and are only moderately difficult, but they do extend the gameplay with even more challenges! Speaking of which, as if 20-24 levels isn’t enough, each level has multiple challenges that are unlocked upon completing the level for the first time. These challenges range from only having 1 power core to only being able to use level 1 towers. Heck, you can even play easier versions of many levels for fun just to blow off some steam. Most of the challenges are far more difficult when compared to the default rules, but for the hardcore players out there, that just means more gameplay. With a good selection of towers that include everything from anti-air missiles to lasers and flamethrowers, as well as the seemingly endless amount of challenges and the gorgeous graphics, this is a truly amazing tower defense experience. If there were to be a flaw, it would only be that the game has to end eventually.

Overall, “Defense Grid: The Awakening” is an amazing piece of work. If there’s no sequel, I wager that the gaming masses will be very displeased!

Pros:
-Best graphics out of the entire tower defense genre.
-Perfect atmosphere.
-Very good voice acting.
-Even if only very basic, the story is as good as it gets for the genre.
-Extra level challenges extend the replay quite a bit.

Cons:
-The game has to end eventually.

Bottom line:
Tower defense fans, this is as good as it gets. Buy this game without question. Anyone who doesn’t know what a tower defense game is, this is the best chance you’ll ever have to find out!

Overall Rating: 9.00

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