The actual gameplay itself is probably what most expect of a TD game. Players have to survive a couple dozen waves of enemies while building towers to protect their core. There’s a variety of towers to pick from, and each can be upgraded to to level 3 for money dropped by killed enemies. Defense Grid 2 has a couple of neat variations on the standard, however.
For one, there’s some amount of mazing allowed, which I always love to see. Figuring out how to keep the enemies a fiery maze of death for the longest time possible is one of my favorite things to do in TD games. Also, instead of the enemies reaching the core and doing damage, they carry off little power cells and try to bring them back to where they came into the map. If a power cell is carried off the map, players lose it for good and the hit points of the core is permanently decreased for the remainder of the chapter. If the core is dropped, it will start making its way slowly back to the core, but other enemies can pick it up if they come across it. I thought this was a neat little variation to the game. My favorite feature of DG2, however, is the ability to fast forward. With a simple tap of the R1 button, the action can be sped up to 3x normal speed. If I want to slow the game down again (to make sure I keep up with upgrading my towers, for example), I just tap the R1 button again. This really helps cut down the time spent just watching enemies die in a fiery maze of death.
PC Thoughts From Locke
The PC version of Defense Grid 2 is a great version of the game. The first thing I noticed was the controls are definitely catered for the console version. Even with a mouse and keyboard, the camera moves with the cursor. It doesn't detract from the experience, but simply something you get used to after several missions.
Co-Op on the PC is great as one player can use a controller, and one can use a mouse and keyboard, or double up on controllers. Both players can build simultaneously and this makes for some awesome construction of tower gauntlets. Being able to focus on one area makes it a great tool to have a friend, especially when things get hairy.
Finally, the DG Architect is an exciting feature that I can't speak on right yet as it is quite underpopulated right now. Hopefully some creative minds start making content and filling Defense Grid 2 with custom levels, because the potential is there.
The game looks really good graphically, and players can zoom in and out and turn the map at will. The interface is pretty intuitive as well. That being said, there were a couple of interface things that were a little strange to me. For one, some of the text in the interface windows is super tiny! Our TV is reasonably sized, but some of the text really could have stood to be bigger for the console version. It kind of felt like the PC interface was transferred over to the console version and while the controls were mapped well to the controller, the text wasn’t resized to optimal levels. Similarly, the camera angle felt like it might have been better optimized for the console as well. The camera can only really be turned to a few pre-set angles, all of which are at about a 45 degree view. While it looks pretty enough, functionally I’d really have preferred it to just be completely top down. Especially playing with two players, the zoom also isn’t as useful as it originally seemed. Zooming in and out randomly in local co-op while another person is trying to see or do something else on the same screen is a good way to get the stinkeye, at the very least. As such, we just played all the way zoomed out so we could each see the entire map.
Overall, Defense Grid 2 on the PS4 has a lot of good things going on. A lot of modes, a good amount of maps, and variations/features of gameplay that make it really apparent that Hidden Path Entertainment know TD games. For me personally there were some things missing that I personally look for in TD games. For example, I like having towers that upgrade into different types of towers (with their own mini tech trees), and that was missing. Also, the fact that local co-op partners can’t choose their own Tower upgrade loadout or even get on the leaderboards with their scores was a really big disappointment. Those things aside, Defense Grid 2 is a streamlined tower defense game. It’s not a super complex game, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a solid experience for players who want to kill enemies in (yep, you guessed it) a fiery maze of death with a friend.
The Co-Optimus review of Defense Grid 2 is based on the PS4 version of the game. A code was supplied by the publisher for review purposes.
The Co-Op Experience: Play the campaign locally or online with a friend in 2 Player Story Mode or work with a friend to stop the alien waves in 2 Player Coordinated Defense Mode.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.