Defense Grid: The Awakening review

  • Real layers of strategy
  • Full of charm
  • The best looking TD game
  • Pretty basic when it comes down to it
  • Not really original
  • Won't appeal to aggressive players

Somebody thought about this one. Tower Defense games are the easiest genre for a developer since Video Tennis; you build a road, some spaces to deploy guns, and then send a bunch of baddies down the path – game done.

Even bad Tower Defense is good Tower Defense. With more problems than a house built on a particularly swampy Indian burial ground, Square Enix’s awful Crystal Defenders was a still a solid title. But somebody really thought about Defense Grid, because it’s the best Tower Defense game ever.

Defense Grid has some pretty smart tricks, some borrowed from existing tower games and some of its own. The towers are simple and can only be placed in specific spots, so in early stages, killing the incoming horde is more about picking the right position than the right tower. The bad guys aren’t trying to just get across the playfield in Defense Grid, either; they’re trying to get in, retrieve power cells, and then get the hell out of there. Your guns get two chances to fire on the hordes, but placement becomes critical.

It keeps you from consolidating all your firepower on one early corner, which adds a unique strategic layer to your placement, gradually building an entire network of firepower more aggressively defensive than a man who’s just been caught with his genitals in a live chicken, rather than a big cluster in one choke point. In essence, it’s a strategic Tower Defense game rather than a memory test.

Most importantly, Defense Grid has charm – a snooty semi-senile English-voiced AI directs you through proceedings and tells the tale of an ancient civilisation wiped out by the hordes. As for the Defense Grid itself, the little turrets and deployment pods are beautifully rendered with an attention to detail nobody else has bothered to lavish on such a very basic format. It’s a million-dollar makeover on a fat tramp, but the old boy has scrubbed up very nicely.

Sep 14, 2009

More Info

Release date: Dec 08 2008 - PC
Sep 02 2009 - Xbox 360 (US)
Dec 08 2008 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC, Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Microsoft, Aspyr
Developed by: Hidden Path Entertainment
ESRB Rating:
Everyone 10+: Fantasy Violence, Mild Language


  • waynski1457 - September 15, 2009 4:23 p.m.

    Best TD ever? No. As GrrSnort said, PvZ easily takes that crown. But this game really is amazing and comes very close.
  • TheIronMaiden - September 15, 2009 5:13 a.m.

    This looks good, but my fav tower defense game will forever be bloons tower defense 3.
  • GrrSnort - September 15, 2009 3:37 a.m.

    Umm, I played it, but I think Plants vs. Zombies is far-and-away better than this. The title of best Tower Defense game goes to Plants vs. Zombies in my humble opinion.
  • jar-head - September 15, 2009 12:27 a.m.

    I'm pretty Aggressive...looking forward to ODST Review
  • magicwalnuts0 - September 15, 2009 12:59 a.m.

    Alright... well good review. I'm definitely getting this off Steam

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