Defender – PS2 – Review

Following hot on the heels
of its successful remake of Spy Hunter, Midway is now releasing Defender, a
remake of the highly addictive shooter from the early 80’s.  The basic formula
has been retained, but the game features improved 3D graphics, a techno
soundtrack, and several tweaks in the gameplay.  While not very deep, Defender
is an action packed game that any shooter fan should enjoy.


The story for Defender isn’t
anything special, but it serves its purpose as a typical science fiction story. 
Earth has been overrun by an alien species called the Manti, who consume human
DNA in order to survive.  Humanity fled to the outer reaches of the solar
system, and became scattered and weak.  As the Manti prepare for a second
assault, the human race decides to strike back and regain control of the solar
system.  Your job as a pilot is to fly in, destroy the Manti threat, and rescue
any colonists before the Manti can get to them.


The simplistic gameplay has
been changed a bit, but still remains true to the original game.  You fly around
in one of two available planes (the number increases to six as you progress
through the game), shooting down enemies and rescuing the colonists.  You must
carry the colonists to drop zones before the Manti have a chance to get them. 
Once the Manti capture them, you only have a few moments to get to and rescue
them.  If you fail to save the colonists after they’ve been captured, the
colonists will fuse with the Manti and become a Mutant, which are very difficult
to defeat.  Among the variations in the gameplay are escort missions, in which
you must provide cover fire for other crafts until they get safely to their
destination.  The game also features some very limited Real Time Strategy
elements that involve carrying tanks and other military units into the heat of
battle or taking colonists to certain units, which they can then use against the


The game’s controls are very
responsive and the ships handle very nicely.  The L2 and R2 shoulder buttons
control your acceleration and deceleration, respectively, and the left analog
stick controls your direction.  The right analog stick is used for stunt moves,
like barrel rolls and loops.  These stunt moves are pretty handy while dodging
enemy fire, since the action can get pretty intense.


The graphical presentation
overall is pretty good.  The planes look fantastic, as they are very detailed
and contain such touches as wear-and-tear from battle and the like.  The
environments look fairly well, although they seem pretty plain from a distance. 
The game also boasts a great deal of special effects, from a colored haze that
surrounds enemies and allies to impressive explosions and lighting effects.  The
game manages to maintain a pretty consistent frame rate, with slowdown occurring
only when the action gets a little too intense.


The game’s sound is pretty
nice as well.  The soundtrack is composed of techno music, and features a track
from KMFDM, a cover of “Also Sprach Zarathustra”, the song from 2001: Space
Odyssey.  The voice acting is also fair.  While the script is pretty cheesy,
that’s to be expected when dealing with such a story.  The sound effects consist
of the basic explosions and “whooshing” plane sounds, while a few sounds from
the original arcade game have been put in for nostalgia.


Defender isn’t at all very
deep, so those expecting something along the lines of a flight sim will be
sorely disappointed.  However, fans of the original game will find a very
faithful update of a beloved classic.  Defender is a fun arcade-style shooter
with no shortage of action.


Scoring Details

While the
gameplay is dirt simple and not at all deep, this adds a bit to the game’s
charm.  The planes all handle very responsively.  The action is at times very
intense, and the limited RTS elements are a nice touch.


Graphics: 8.5
While the
environments seem a little plain at a distance, the plane models look fabulous. 
The enemy models are also very faithfully done.  The frame rates stay pretty
solid, slowing down only during very intense action sequences.


The techno
soundtrack works nicely with the style of the game, and the voice acting is not
too bad.  The sound effects are par for the course, yet the inclusion of sound
effects from the original Defender is a nice touch.


Difficulty: Medium


The story has
been done, though it still fits with the rest of the game.  The game does an
excellent job of being faithful to the original game while creating a different


Multiplayer: 8.0
The game has two
two-player modes, a co-op and a deathmatch mode. These are both pretty nice,
although a four-player mode or maybe even online play would have been fantastic.


Defender is a
straightforward action game that keeps true to the feel of its predecessor. 
Anyone looking for a twitchy-finger arcade-style game with plenty of action
should get a kick out of Defender, while those expecting a deep flight sim need
not apply.