A Masterpiece is Born

09/16/2009 by Sean Ely | Source: GamePro Arcade

Caution: Downloading Defense Grid: The Awakening could lead to laziness spent in front of the TV, video game addiction, desire to build a destructive tour and alien hatred. OK, those might not be all that bad, but one thing is for certain -- this title restores what you originally thought about tower defense games. With a little polish and a crew (Hidden Path Entertainment) who knows what it's doing, a masterpiece is born.


DG starts off like every other tower defense game: Don't let the bad guys get through the path ... in short, kill them. In this one, 15 species of alien hordes attempt to slip by towers that you've strategically placed across the map. Perhaps you want a Racer to swoop into a slow-down beam while being blasted with an inferno from three angles? It's possible. Or maybe you want the little core-hungry sucker to slip into a field of lasers? No sweat. The freedom is there, but make sure to keep an eye on weaknesses, attributes and tactical strategies for each alien form. It will only help you in the long run.



Once easier levels are blown through, you'll come across maps that require you to shape enemies' pathways to the core base. Here, it is crucial to use your brain and create a design that forces the aliens to walk past towers numerous times, really giving you a bang for your buck. Instead of money, towers are purchased through "resources" which are earned from killing enemies and lasting a longer time.


The true name of the game in success here is the upgrading of towers. Each tower can be upgraded from a level one (green) to a level two (yellow) to a level three (red). By upping your tower power, you're usually given faster shots, more damaging ammunition and longer range. Certain towers work better against groups while others are reserved for individual monsters. It all comes with playing the game.


The graphics are gorgeous, using millions of colors and tones to create a truly wonderful game. Sounds are futuristic yet realistic at the same time. The super computer, which you're protecting throughout the game -- as it runs on cores to stay alive -- talks to you with humorous commentary, telling you he'll even buy you a drink once a level is completed. That is, if he actually could. He's a hunk of metal. The personality is there nonetheless.


Overall, this game is for you. Intimidated by a tower defense? Don't be. It requires some heavy thinking and brain power, which is good for everyone. Since no one reads books anymore, you mind as well play a game that requires you to think on your feet. Defense Grid: The Awakening will love you if you love it. Get it a try.


Pros: Beautiful graphics, hilarious narrative storyline, addicting gameplay, powerful towers, three zoom levels, huge chunk of levels


Cons: Near impossible final level, start-up menu screen could look better


GamePro Score: 4.5 / 5.0


The Info - Platform: XBLA, PC, Developer/Publisher: Hidden Path Entertainment, ESRB: E10+, Players: 1, Price: 800 MS Points