Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Defense Grid 2 review: Still the best tower defense game, but the magic's missing

Hayden Dingman | Dec. 4, 2014
I don't know how many tower defense games I've played at this point. "A lot" would be a fair estimate, spanning everything from Warcraft III mods to tiny Flash games to full-blown productions. But the original Defense Grid is without doubt one of the best (maybe the best) tower defense games ever released.

I don't know how many tower defense games I've played at this point. "A lot" would be a fair estimate, spanning everything from Warcraft III mods to tiny Flash games to full-blown productions. But the original Defense Grid is without doubt one of the best (maybe the best) tower defense games ever released.

Defense Grid II is more Defense Grid. It's a tightly-tuned, gorgeous tower defense game set against an epic science fiction backdrop where you commit mass genocide against a host of alien baddies in order to protect your base(s). It's also really good. Except maybe not as good as its predecessor. Or maybe just too similar to its predecessor. It's hard to tell.

I know your face

In terms of the amount of content built for Defense Grid II there's more than enough here to call it a sequel. There's a decently-long campaign with a fully-voiced story that plays out a bit like a weird radio drama (considering you never see any of the characters who are speaking). Like Titanfall earlier this year, the all-audio format makes it next to impossible to keep the characters and plot straight, so...good luck. Minute-to-minute the dialogue is quirky enough though that it doesn't really matter.

But from a mechanics level, Defense Grid II just feels like an expansion. That's no fault of the developers — there's not much you can do with the tower defense genre, which is why the original Defense Grid was so surprising to begin with.

Defense Grid II plays almost exactly like its predecessor though. The big thing that set the original apart — the ability to build new paths with your towers in order to force enemies into longer, more circuitous routes — returns. In fact, Defense Grid II doubles down on the labyrinth-building aspect of the game by adding in a new "Boost Tower."

The Boost Tower isn't a weapon, per se. It's a box. A crate. It doesn't cost much compared to building an Inferno Tower or a Cannon or what have you, so you can throw down a bunch of them with relatively little overhead and build out the walls of your shooty-death-trap. You can also build guns on top of Boost Towers, and then upgrade said Boost Towers to inflict more damage.

That's really it, though. That's the big addition to Defense Grid II, plus the new campaign, plus the new multiplayer modes (if you think you're good enough to compete). It's not a bad value, per se, but if you've already played hundreds of hours of the original Defense Grid there's no magical spark here to bring you back, no surprises lying in wait.

 

1  2  Next Page 

Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.