Married Gamers Review: Defense Grid: The Awakening (XBLA)

by Erik Johnsen

Tower defense games aren’t exactly something I’ve gone out of my way to look for. In fact, I was only passively aware of Defense Grid’s existence because I usually check out what has come out on Wednesdays before I get going for work. Call me pleasantly surprised.


Just to give you the general run down of how it works, you’re presented with power cores that you’re assigned to protect in any way possible. Depending on how far along in the game you are, your choices for towers range from gun towers, to infernos (flame throwers) to ones that slow the enemies down and ones to blast flying enemies out of the air, just to name a few. Towers are upgradable from Level 1 (green) to Level 2 (yellow) and finally, to Level 3 (red). Each level can have one way in and back out, or they move from one end to another, and your goal is to keep all of your cores, build as many resources (money) as you can and score as high as you possibly can.

You’re helped out by a disembodied guardian, someone who used to do what you’re doing now, but has been inactive for many, many years. He’s not exceptionally helpful, other than giving you encouragement and shouting out warnings of incoming enemies. His main function seems to be progressing a thin story line, and letting you know what new towers you have available.

The real meat of the game is setting up your defense towers, making the enemies weave their way through your maze, doubling back to repeating fire from your towers, and stopping them from running away with your cores. There are several types of enemies, from super fast Racers, to the massively armored but slow moving Crushers. Some enemies can be cloaked, while others can be shielded forcing your towers to spend more time to destroy them.

Defense Grid is rather addictive to play, as you begin setting your towers to prepare for the seemingly endless march of the opposition the question already begins to form: How can I do this better? With upgrades for your towers, and various types of towers that you unlock bit by bit as you move through the campaign, you can play the game dozens of times and not play the same way twice. The handy back button allows you to return to previously autosaved checkpoints if you mess up so you don’t have to restart the mission completely.

Completing the campaign missions unlock various challenges to try for that board. Some are easier, to help you perfect your strategies, while others are more complex from making the enemies tougher, limiting the total number of towers you can use, or restricting you to only having level 1 (green) towers.

There is no online multiplayer, but you do have the option to look at the individual level leaderboards consisting of your friends, or the main leaderboards from the main menu.

Overall, Defense Grid is well worth the 800 Microsoft Points, and will keep you entertained with trying new strategies to get the best score you can.

Protect the cores!

The Married Gamers Report Card: B+

A copy (code) of this game was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of this review.

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