f you’re like me, when it comes to gaming sometimes you like to take a break from the straight run and gun shooter or the massively intense RPG games that can take hold of hours of your life. Personally, I like to dive into indie titles that some have never heard of or I also try my hand at games that really make you think. Puzzle and strategy games are so satisfying for my taste, and the newest one I discovered is Defense Grid 2.
The Defense Grid 2 Game Itself
Defense Grid 2 is the sequel to Defense Grid: The Awakening, which released back in 2008 for Microsoft Windows and in 2009 for the Xbox 360 as an arcade game. I’m ashamed I never heard of the title before, but luckily I stumbled upon this one thanks to the Games With Gold featured game for May. The sequel actually started off as a Kickstarter project in 2012 but was successfully funded enough for it to get a full release for Windows, PS4, and Xbox One in 2014.
The game has a simple concept, but there is much more that meets the eye. There is technically a story as you are saving colonies and planets from the invading aliens, but the core of the game is the missions.
Each mission takes place on a base, planet, or piece of land where aliens begin to invade and navigate their way to the heart of your map where energy cores are located. These aliens will grab these cores, and carry them all the way back to their ship until they are all diminished. You take control of the “Commander” along with various AI personalities (who are somewhat annoying), and you must build towers in squares across the map to defend off the aliens and killing them.
As I said, your mission is to fight off aliens as they try and obtain all of your energy cores. In the early missions you’ll find that most of the aliens are quite easy to kill. But as you progress through the game, the aliens become much stronger and faster, which causes a lot of intense moments on the field. For example, some aliens may be weak but move very fast so they can reach your cores quicker.
Some aliens are very slow, but are heavily armored. Some carry shields, while others regenerate health. Some will drop in pods right at the center of your energy cores. The list goes on and on, and they come in a mass amount of waves.
Sometimes there will be so many aliens on your map the entire screen will be nothing but a glowing array of explosions and alien bodies as they are determined to get to their destination. As you progress in the missions, the aliens will start to come from multiple entry points which makes you change the way you place your towers in hopes of slowing them down.
The Towers and Abilities
The real fun of this game is the tower placement across the map. In DF2 you’ll have access to ten different towers that each carry their own strategic attack and purpose. These towers are built with resources, which you acquire in the duration of time as well as the completion of waves. Each of these towers can be upgraded twice as well, making them more powerful than before.
The towers range from all out assault to tactical weapons that will really make a difference to stop the aliens. You’ll find that using missiles, guns, meteors, and cannons will overall do some serious damage; but you’ll heavily rely on temporal towers to slow the enemy down as well as teslas to get drain shields.
Each of these towers also have multiple abilities you can choose from in the menu before the game starts, which can help you in the offensive or defensive position. The combination of all of these towers makes the game both interesting and fun, and can literally be played out in hundreds of different ways by your placements.
Placing these towers are also very important because you can potentially force your enemy to go through a maze-like trail before they can reach your cores, which allows you more time to fight them off and build more towers. Trust me, you’ll be begging for as much time as you can get.
Finally, your annoying AI companions actually do come in handy during your large scale battles. Each mission you’ll be allowed to choose one AI as an ability you can activate anytime during the game. These abilities will provide assistance from the air which can be a giant laser blast to obliterate all in its radius, slowing the enemy downs tremendously, or even transporting some loose cores back home. There are a handful to choose from, but choose wisely because after each use it takes several minutes to replenish before usable again.
The Verdict on Defense Grid 2
You’ll find Defense Grid 2 both challenging and satisfying at its best. This game deserves a spotlight for its intense strategic gameplay as you race across time and aliens to place the best towers in mind to save your cores from being stolen. With a variety of different ways to approach each level, fun towers that you can build on and experiment with, and well-thought out level designs to keep you at the edge of your seat, I never thought I’d love a strategy game so much. If you missed the game while it was free on the marketplace, you can pick up a copy on the game store for $14.99.
I give Defense Grid 2 an 8/10, and definitely recommend to any gamer who loves a challenge.