Defender - GC - Review
Recently, there has been a surge of old school
games being resurrected on this current generation of consoles. By the time this
year is over, players will get the chance to play remakes of the following: Spy
Hunter, Rygar, Shinobi, and now Defender. Over twenty years ago, Midway released
a game by the name of Defender, which was a side scrolling shooter where players
had to stop a massive horde of aliens from attacking the Earth. The game became
a smash hit. Now, twenty years later, Defender has been remade with a major
graphical overall and contains many of the same qualities of its predecessor,
but is it still as fun?
The story for Defender is as follows: many years ago a group of alien bugs, called the Manti, attacked the Earth. These bugs consumed human DNA to survive and protect its own species. It didn't take long, and eventually huge cities were infected with these bugs, causing people to mutate and turn against one another. Fearful that entire human population would become extinct, the remaining survivors scattered all around space, setting up various colonies. Several years later another swarm of these bugs came, and made the planet void of human life. If a third wave were to arrive, the human species would be doomed.
To combat these forces the Galactic Stargate Authority (GSA for short) is formed, and their mission is to eliminate the entire Manti threat. The GSA main headquarters is located on Mars, and they have operatives all over the galaxy, to prevent any future invasions. The GSA main force is composed of a group of elite and extremely bold pilots whose job is to decimate any threat that gets in their path. Players become a new recruit fresh out of training school. Their mission is to stop any spread of the Manti bugs, and then drive the remaining ones off of planet Earth. Will you accept your mission, or cower in fear? The choice is up to you!
Players will have a wide variety of ships to pilot for each mission, and each have a special weapon. The Defender is the average ship, and the ones new recruits use, since it is fast, reliable and has nice armor. The special weapon is an energy shield to help protect the ship while under heavy fire. Guardian is a slow ship, with plenty of armor, and its special weapon is that it has the ability to go into hyper space. Nemesis is a super fast and agile ship, with minimal armor, and carries smart bombs. Defiance is an upgraded Defender, this mean it is faster, has more armor and better weapons, and its special weapon is the deadly pulse mine. If players are looking for a ship with tons of armor and powerful weapons, than the Judgment is the ship for them. To complete the package, the Judgment comes equipped with an energy shield. The last ship that this reviewer will share with you is the Retribution. It is the fastest ship the GSA has in its possessions, and also comes with the ability to go into hyper space, but it has extremely low armor. Each of these ships can be further upgraded with new weapons and other things, to make the pilots more efficient at their jobs.
The game is in full 3D, so the controls will take a while to get use to. The analog stick will move players in 360 degrees, which means they can go anywhere they want in the environments. Pressing left on the d-pad will target a colonist; right targets an object; up targets a vehicle; and down will target an enemy. A button fires the weapon and the B button switches between each available weapon. The R button will make the thrusters go forward, and the L button will reverse the thrusters. Z button brings up the map. Pressing the X button will activate the ships special weapon. The Y button will identity the target you are fighting.
As an added bonus Midway threw in a few DVD like extras. There is the making of Defender, historical documents on the game, and trailers for games soon to come. It is nice to see developers are going the extra mile to appease their fans.
Defender is rated T for Teen for violence, and will take one block of memory to save.
The games controls are pretty tight. It will take players a few minutes to get the hang of it, but that is why Midway included a couple tutorial missions. Once players understand the mechanics of the game, they will be playing like pros within thirty minutes. The nice thing about Defender is the wide variety of ships players can pilot. Each ship feels different from the others, from better handling, more armor, or extra firepower. This increases the replay value of the game since players can complete have a different perspective with each ship.
To help prevent the game from becoming repetitive, Midway threw in a few Real Time Strategy elements into the fray. Defender could be classified as a mindless shooter game, meaning that each mission will be killing the hordes of alien attackers, but now players must also save the lives of the various people spread out throughout each level. Players must manage their time to destroy the enemies, rescue players, and set up ground forces to help defend against the aliens. This is a great addition, and hopefully future shooters will try to incorporate other ideas, like this one, in their games to help prevent any redundancy.
I can say this with the utmost of confidence: this game looks better than its predecessor. Defender's ships and environments are nicely modeled and well textured. Players will get to fight on many different planets and even in space! It is not the best looking game on the market, but at any given time, players will be fighting myriads of enemies one the screen at once without one dip in the frame rate. I prefer average graphics with a nice and steady high frame rate, then eye dripping graphics that move at ten frames per second.
The CGI intro before most missions are nicely done as well, as it gives players the sense that they are in a movie. This gets the players on more of a personal level with the game as they see how vile the aliens can be and what they are doing to the people at each place the travel.
The music used for this game is suitable. One thing that I am thankful for is that Midway did not hire annoying actors to do the character voice-overs. Players will not be annoyed by aggravating voices while listening to the mission briefing. The sound effects on the other hand are done extremely well; the ships blaster and missile sounds had the subwoofer rumbling my room. Gamers will get a bit nostalgic as well, since Midway opted to use some of the sounds from the original game.
The game is extremely easy to beat; the hardest part is getting use to the controls in the beginning of the game. After players master the controls, they will beat the game in less than ten hours.
I cannot even fathom the amount of games that have the exact same story line. Save the universe from an invading alien threat, and to do them you must ship and shoot them all down. In simple terms it is an old school shooter game with current graphics. It has a "been there done that" kind of feeling, but it is still fun to play.
Defender offers gamers the option to play with a friend cooperatively or in a death match mode. When I was younger, I loved playing these types of games with a friend because of the intense difficulty. I wish more games offered this kind of multiplayer experience, but it seems like it is a dying mode. Deathmatch is also fun to play to see who is the best pilot in the universe.
Gamers who remember the old Defender game, will definitely want to try this game out, as it might bring back a flood of memory's while they were younger. The bad thing about this game is that it is extremely easy, and at times, will still feel a bit redundant. Only so many missions can you pick up civilians, shoot bad guys, collect power ups, and repeat. This would be a good game to rent over the Thanksgiving weekend, for people who have relatives who are not that into video games but remember the classics, and those who do not like extremely violent/bloody games.