Defense Grid 2 Review on PlayStation 4 – The Only Tower Defense Game You’ll Ever Need to Play

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There aren’t many tower defense games on the PlayStation 4, in fact, I don’t really think there are any. That’s why Hidden Path Entertainment along with 505 Games’ follow up to 2008’s Defense Grid: The Awakening could be something special. Defense Grid 2 (DG2) is the first tower defense game available on the PS4 and fans of the tower defense genre may want to give it a look. Defense Grid 2 promises to include tons of new game modes, improved visuals, and even a story mode for single player fun as well as new multiplayer modes. This may be THE tower defense game to rule all tower defense games on the PS4.

Story

DefenseGrid2_Release 2014-08-01 14-35-24-13Defense Grid 2 is a sci-fi tower defense game. This one actually does have a story mode attached to it which is rather interesting considering many tower defense games do not. Most of the story deals with a human captain and a series of AI beings. They hop from region to region in space trying to keep back the alien invaders who seem to want their cores. There’s quite a bit of narrative involved and seems to be quite deep for a tower defense game. Much of it though happens during the loading sequence and while you are playing. There are no real cut scenes involved so much of it is just layered on top of your gameplay. This makes the game ultra streamlined and allows you to concentrate more on playing and less on just sitting there twiddling your thumbs while the story plays out. What’s neat too is that you can actually play the game at twice the speed and the story will still play out normally as you play.

Gameplay

This is where Defense Grid 2 shines in my opinion. At first, the game starts off like a basic tower defense game where you’ll be placing towers on set points around the level while the aliens follow a set path. Kill them before they escape. However, after a couple of games, you’ll soon see that the levels are pretty dynamic and you’ll be able to strategically place your towers to form routes in which the aliens must take. So instead of a straight line to their objective, you can make them take detours that twist and turn throughout the level, slowing down their progress and making it so that it takes them longer to get where they need to go. With tower defense games, this is very good as you need all that extra distance and time to chip away at their health.

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Like any tower defense game, you start off with limited resources and can only build a set amount of towers at first. As time progresses, your resources begin to replenish and you’ll be able to build more. With each successful wave, you get a resource bonus that you can also use to build. You don’t have to build new towers though as you can also upgrade existing towers to make them more powerful and effective. It is beneficial to build as many towers as you can though as this will greatly increase your chances at winning the mission.

Underneath the solid tower defense gameplay is a plethora of customization options and modes you can play. It’s pretty overwhelming how many modes there are. For instance, if you play through story mode, you have a choice of choosing 4 different difficulty settings for each of the missions available to you. Not only that, each one has a huge list of modes (game modifiers) you can play under that completely changes up the play style of the regular game. For instance, one mode makes it so none of the towers shoot unless you place your cursor over it. There’s an entire list of modes you can choose from for all missions which gives Defense Grid 2 a high replay value.

There is also a multiplayer component to the game, though I was not able to test this out as I don’t know anyone else with the game, which is a shame because this is a very good tower defense game. Again, I don’t usually play these types of games, but I’m having a really good time with this game.

Presentation

Now while I did say that gameplay took top honors here, the graphics shouldn’t be over looked. Being that it is on the PS4, I was expecting nothing less than stellar and that’s what I got. Defense Grid 2 graphics are insane for a tower defense game. You start off almost at a top down view but can easily zoom in and out of the action. This allows you to see a lot of details that the developer included with their tower designs and level designs. The ease at which you can zoom in and out is one of my favorite features as this allows me to view the overall playing field for what I need to build and where and also I can zoom in if I want to just watch the glorious action up close.

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And trust me, you’ll want to zoom in often because of how amazing the graphics are for a  tower defense game. The environments and level design are filled with detail and not just flat surfaces to play on. The towers themselves are also fully detailed with lots of tiny moving parts and activity. Nothing on the screen really stays still which makes this much better looking than many other tower defense games that can be quite static and boring looking. Defense Grid 2 also has wonderful lighting effects and particle effects which looks simply amazing when there is a lot of action going on at once. On levels where you build a ton of towers, the action gets very hectic, but the PS4 never skips a beat and the game continues to run super smooth, even with all towers shooting at once, with a screen full of enemies and running at increased speeds. The game never struggles to keep up and again, is an incredible sight to see.

Not only are the graphics good, the audio portion of the game is also just as good. There is an amazing soundtrack attached to the game and never was there a point where I wanted to turn it off. Attached to the story portion of the game is a lot of narration by various characters and even that was terrific. The voice acting is surprisingly good for an indie game and definitely not what you would expect from a non-AAA game. Usually, the voice acting is the worst on indie game, but it’s very good here. Same goes for the sound effects as well.

Mainly what I’m saying is that the overall presentation of the game is top notch. The graphics are fantastic, the audio is fantastic, and it all comes together to form this one amazing experience.

Experience

I’ve never really been into tower defense games, except for maybe the original Plants vs Zombies. I’ve always found them to be kind of repetitive and just not all that fun. PvZ however was fun and that was mainly because of it’s wacky characters and theme. However, Defense Grid 2 is quite possibly the best tower defense game I have ever played. Again, I don’t usually like these types of games, but Defense Grid 2 kept be interested long after the first few chapters. This was due to the challenging gameplay, amazing graphics, and just the overall pacing of the game.

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By pacing, I mean the game is very quick. The one thing that has never attracted me to tower defense games is the overall slow pacing most of the games take. Watching waves and waves of enemies traveling along a set path just isn’t that exciting most of the time. Defense Grid 2 however allows you to speed that up 2x allowing for a much more exciting game. Watching enemies speed along and all your towers shooting them at double the speed is just pure awesome and at that speed, the action rarely ever stops. Once in a while, I’d slow down in order to place a few towers or catch my breath, but for the most part, running it at double the speed was the only way I liked to play to keep things moving along.

My favorite part of the game however was how many towers you could actually build. You start off with a couple basic towers, but as you progress through the game, you begin unlocking more and more of them. There’s a lot of variety in the game and in the end, you end up with 10 different tower types, each upgradable about two times. Each tower has its own abilities, pros, and cons, so you’ll want to pay attention to these when placing them around your playing field. Obviously some towers work better than others for certain types of enemies so just be aware of this and don’t just go placing random towers anywhere.

Final Thoughts

I haven’t had this much fun with a tower defense game in ages. The last great one I played was Plants vs Zombies and I didn’t think anything else could ever top it, until I played Defense Grid 2. This game is simply amazing thanks to its solid gameplay mechanics, awesome graphics, and sheer amount of options and modes you can play. There is so much to do in this game that will keep you busy for weeks or months. The action is fast paced and hectic, the story is actually not bad at all and doesn’t get in the way of the gameplay, and the overall presentation of the game is just so perfect.

This could even be one of the best tower defense games I’ve ever played and if you’re a fan of the genre, I highly suggest picking this up on the PS4. If you’re not a fan, I would still check it out as you might be pleasantly surprised at what you’ll find.

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