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Indie Game Review: Defense Grid 2

Defense Grid: Awakening was released in 2008 and six years later we get a sequel. After so long, can we trust Hidden Path Entertainment to make a sequel to one of the best Tower Defense games in the last 10 years? You can only change a game so much before it starts to look like a totally different product. Defense Grid 2 gives you the Tower Defense experience with the original art style that the original is known for.

Aliens are attacking, you must build towers to kill them before they take your power cores and escape. Pretty self explanatory, the story isn’t a deeply developed epic, it is there to give you a reason for place towers. You don’t play a TD game for the story, you play it for the challenging gameplay.

You can’t have a TD game and have it just be a stoic environment and expect it to be fun. Defense Grid 2 eases you into a variety of different maps that change as you play. The buzzword is dynamic and while it isn’t a major selling mechanic, it is nice to have to plan around missing parts of the level. There are 21 different levels to play on. After completing the story mode you can play it again with a different challenge that restricts the way you play. From there you adapt and try to get the highest score possible. While it is technically the same level, you will not play it the same way as before, creating a new experience.

There are new game modes to play and these include online PvP with multiplayer Co-Op. These small and humble additions give you a reason to keep playing after beating the story mode because every time you play. Like a bad infomercial, THERE’S MORE! DG2 introduces, DG Architect. Now players can create their own levels and connect it to Steam Workshop. For 25 bucks, you get a lot of content to play, especially when you factor in user generated levels.

The game plays like a traditional TD game. Enemies flow out from one or more points, you must place towers to destroy them before they get to your core. Along the way you gain resources which you will use to build more towers and upgrade them. Upon completing more levels, towers will gain upgrades to change their efficiency in battles. Each tower is incredibly different from one another and they all serve specific purposes. For instance, using the Tesla Tower will be better on a level with a large amount of shielded enemies, while the Inferno Tower would be better suited for a level with small groups of enemies. Nothing game changing, but it isn’t broke, so no need for it to be fixed.

I have two problems with Defense Grid 2. It doesn’t really seem to step out of the box, or take the genre in a new direction. For instance, look at the Anomaly series (except Defenders). It took Tower Defense and made it it’s own. Or like Tower Wars, a hex grid TD game with a unique way of gathering resources and sending units to attack opponents. Defense Grid 2 just plays it safe with traditional gameplay. It still controls well, and there is plenty of challenge, but it leaves you wanting more. The second problem is the lack of a speed up option in single player. The game has upwards of 20 waves of enemies and sometimes those waves are too sluggish. It isn’t a big deal and it gives you time to think and plan, but once my plan is done, I want to get a move on.

Other than that DG2 is a well programmed game and a must have for any Tower Defense fan. The art is fantastic and the musical score is brilliant. I give Defense Grid 2 a 9/10. You can get it now on PC, Xbox One, and PS4.

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