A Paladin’s Steam Review: Defense Grid: The Awakening. One of the More Solid Tower Defense Games on Steam.
- Genre: Single Player Tower Defense.
- Developed and Published by: Hidden Path Entertainment
- Platform: Windows Only.
- Business Model: Base Game + Two Expansions and 4 Map Pack DLCs.
- Copy Purchased by Myself
Overall Gameplay Thoughts
Defense Grid: The Awakening is a pure, unapologetic Tower Defense Genre game. And while it is unapologetic tower defense game, it is still one of the best I have found so far. Your mission is to fend off the invading alien hordes and protecting the “Cores” that are responsible for powering your AI companion. If you lose all the cores, you lose the level. Its an interesting mechanic because even if the aliens get to the cores, they still have to leave the level with the cores. As such, it gives you time to kill them off and they’ll float back to the core housing in due time. You can’t afford to allow the aliens to grab the cores too much or too often, because otherwise by sheer attrition they’ll get them off the level.
The game offers a balanced and good variety of turrets to defend your cores, from the basic bullet turrets, to the thunderous high powered cannons, this game has definitely done a good job on making sure these turrets have their own unique use in each level. Each turret can be upgraded three times to increase its damage output and it’s generally best to setup hotspots where aliens die a lot. You’ll need to have a variety of turrets to counter the various threats of the turrets while keeping towers upgraded. Each level is setup in such a way so that you can create mazes.
Though like many TD games in this genre suffer from, it’s got a highly repetitive formula. Each level is about finding the optimal tower-positioning, keep upgrading towers to maximum, watch the aliens constantly splash and die on those defenses and then win. There aren’t a lot of surprises especially in the end-game and DLC levels to really change things up. Especially if you don’t care about getting gold achievements on each level or really high scores.
The story is pretty simple but rather heartfelt. You’re a commander that’s discovered an AI called Fletcher and you use him to protect the people under your protection. The two of you must use towers and your wits to survive alien onslaughts as you try to piece together Fletcher’s past and what must be done to stop the alien threat once and for all. It’s heartfelt at times as you get to learn about Fletcher.
Defense Grid: The Awakening also offers two expansions and four map pack DLCs to continue the experience. The four Resurgence DLCs offer some big wide open maps that give you a lot of flexibility in how to defend against the oncoming alien attacks. They don’t have any story to them and should just be considered extra maps. Considering how cheap they are, I don’t see any reason not to get them. You Monster is a great expansion DLC featuring GLaDOS of Portal 1 & 2 fame herself as the main protagonist/antagonist. You must fight your way past GLaDOS’ shenigans and shut her down for good but you’ll lose your AI companion for most of it. These levels spice things up by changing the layouts, giving you limited control over turrets and other unique mechanics. I definitely recommend picking this set up. Containment is the second and last expansion that’s centered around linking Defense Grid: The Awakening to Defense Grid 2 and introducing the main campaign. I don’t know if I really recommend this expansion, especially when given my thoughts on DG2. It has the same story structure of DG2 and quite frankly, the voice acting just isn’t as good as GLaDOS or Fletcher’s. They’re pretty good levels on their own merits but I think You Monster’s are more unique whereas Containment are more brutally difficult.
PC settings are ok with the game being pretty well optimized. Though fast forwarding while lots of aliens and special effects are on the screen will slow things down. You’ve got v-sync and resolution options as well as multiple audio sliders for music, SFX and voice over. Anti-aliasing is missing and is set by the in-game engine. Keys can also be rebound and controllers are supported.
For the purest game in the tower defense genre, you can’t go wrong with Defense Grid: The Awakening. It’s set such a high standard that I’ve had a hard time enjoying any other games in this genre, including the sequel. All of the towers have a purpose, the enemies are balanced and the levels engaging and pretty memorable. It’s what set the standard experience, though so there are going to be times of just sitting there passively and watching the bullets fly. The story is great as well, with your British-accented AI companion giving a lot of personality to each mission you run. A definite recommendation from me.
So until next time,