by Jon Michael May
I downloaded Defense Grid: The Awakening on a whim, when offered free to Xbox Live Gold members and had few expectations. Ultimately it was a decision I’m glad I made. I’ve sunk well over a hundred hours into the tower defense game, purchased three map packs, (including the Portal inspired pack), and come right back to it when I need a good distraction.
I won’t bore you with the finer details, except to say Defense Grid follows the basic concept of placing towers while trying to halt an advancing alien threat. While it certainly doesn’t push the tower defense genre into any new or interesting areas, it doesn’t need to change what already works. Solid gameplay with a wide assortment of tower and enemy types, offer you the chance to play a number of ways and experiment with a variety of play styles. Combined with a variety of game modes and medals to achieve and it quickly becomes easy to replay favorite maps multiple times.
Defense Grid: The Awakening has a sliver of story woven through the initial twenty levels that come with the game, though it’s hardly a selling point. When you get down to brass tacks, if you’re playing a tower defense game, you’re in it for the strategic problem solving nature of the gameplay, not a deep and meaningful story. It would be nice to see a game that has both, but that isn’t the case here and shouldn’t dissuade you giving the game a try.
The game is no longer free on XBLA, so you’ll have to part with $9.99 for the chance to lose countless hours of your life destroying as many aliens as possible. If you enjoy tower defense games, Defense Grid: The Awakening is worth that price, because let’s be honest; those aliens have it coming.