REVIEW: ‘Defense Grid 2’ (PS4)

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Defense Grid 2

A good defense is a great offense, but in the case of the tower-defense genre, a good defense cannot be good, it has to be great. Ever since Field Runners launched on Smartphones in 2007,  there has been a multitude of interpretations in this genre.  Any of these games can be traced back to a game I would consider a classic and a milestone, known as Defense Grid, a 2008 Steam and  Xbox Live indie hit.

The follow-up, Defense Grid 2, was met with critical and commercial acclaim. After some time, Defense Grid 2 was developed and released in September of 2014 for the Xbox One, PC, and PlayStation 4. On February 7th, 2019, the game was successfully ported to the Nintendo Switch.  Having played both the PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch versions of the game, Defense Grid 2 has proven itself to be one of the finest tower-defense games in the business today, and now, players can take that enjoyment with them anywhere.

Defense Grid 2 takes place in the deep future, where mankind has begun the early stages of space exploration and colonization. To assist humans in this venture, an assortment of incredibly advanced A.I.’s are created. These A.I.’s have human-like qualities and are self-aware complete with their own humor and perspectives. Working together, they can perform near-impossible tasks which are most important in the case of tactical combat and defense.

As humans colonized their solar systems, they have come across a ravenous alien race drawn to their power and resources. In order to protect the citizens of Earth, players must command and guide a collection of A.I.’s against the alien hordes using the advanced combat defense grid. The Defense Grid is amorphous and able to adapt to a variety of combat situations. The alien hordes will not stop at retrieving a power core so your job is to stop them.

Defense Grid 2 is presented from an isometric perspective, where the player can oversee and observe the battle at hand. Players can zoom in and see the carnage being waged in intricate detail as well as observe the various enemy units making their way to the power cores. Across the Defense Grid, players can deploy gun towers. These towers range in their functions and abilities.

When players begin, they will have access to traditional towers, such as gun towers, inferno towers, and cannons. Over the course of the campaign, players will have access to time warping towers, missile towers, and laser towers among many other attributes. This is also based on your resource currency. Resources will automatically build and be used to spend on new towers and upgrades. Players will receive more resources depending on the number of cores remaining and how quickly they dispatch enemies. They may also select a tower to collect resources later in the campaign to help boost resources to spend. It is up to the player to decide where these towers will go. As is the case in tower-defense, the best strategy is to create a longer path, making it harder for the invaders to take the power core as well as give more damage to the enemies. There are multiple enemy variants that will strengthen other enemies or use advanced defenses to defend themselves. Knowing the battlefield and what to deploy is the key to victory.

Defense Grid 2 is an engaging and a ferocious tactical combat experience. Once players begin playing they will find it very difficult to put down. The enemies come aggressively and with haste so creating meaningful tactical decisions is crucial and wonderfully exciting. Each choice you make can have a drastic outcome on the formation and the outcome of the battle.

With the variety of towers available, players will have quite the abundance of firepower to choose from but each tower has a strategic value. Missiles are incredibly damaging but take some time to load. Cannons have a slow rate of fire, but can chip away at enemies with long-range. Mortars can wipe out clusters of enemies, but are slow loading and fire seldom.  The basic alien runners will be present but some will be incredibly slow-moving and even able to shield other enemies from damage. Players will need to be ready to adapt instantly to various combat conditions. Fortunately, Defense Grid 2 has a series of checkpoints that players can revert back to should a wave become too challenging giving players an opportunity to rethink and adjust their strategies.

Despite being a port, the gameplay on the Nintendo Switch is still sharp. Whether in handheld mode or docked, switch provides a great gameplay experience with its control setup. Having played the PlayStation 4 version for quite sometime, the switch version felt comfortable, quick, and responsive.

Defense Grid 2 features an incredibly sharp presentation, where the battlefield erupts in industrialized, mechanical chaos. Missiles and mortars explode in vibrant detonations and flames erupt from the barrels of gun towers. The enemies move with fluidity, life, and aggression sporting an interesting amount of detail.  Even the smaller details, such as the turrets reloading and rearming themselves, are breath-taking to see. The presentation on PlayStation 4 is sharp, but as expected, aspects to the presentation had to be sacrificed for the Nintendo Switch. However, despite the transition, the presentation is still very well polished. On the Nintendo Switch,  Defense Grid 2 runs at a smooth framerate and still features an abundance of particle effects, shadows, and details.  Players can zoom in and see aliens torn to shreds by incoming fire. The game never stuttered or froze on the Switch during my playthrough.

Overall, Defense Grid 2 is a sharp, fine tuned tactical combat experience. Its sensation of combat and reward of defense will be known to the player, and keep players engaged throughout the experience. Defense Grid 2 continues to be a major milestone in the tower defense genre. It is fantastic for newcomers or veterans looking to play the game anywhere. Defense Grid 2 is a remarkable tower-defense experience, and I encourage everyone to play this.

Defense Grid 2 is available now on Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC

Defense Grid 2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL; DR

Overall, Defense Grid 2 is a sharp, fine tuned tactical combat experience. Its sensation of combat and reward of defense will be known to the player, and keep players engaged throughout the experience. Defense Grid 2 continues to be a major milestone in the tower defense genre. It is fantastic for newcomers or veterans looking to play the game anywhere. Defense Grid 2 is a remarkable tower-defense experience, and I encourage everyone to play this.