If you’re an avid reader of this site, you will remember our review for Prime World: Defenders from Nival Studios back in August last year. Nival is back with a follow-up to this award-winning Tower Defense Game of the Year with Defenders 2: Tower Defense CCG. Building on the success of its predecessor, the game brings more monsters, more spells, and more towers to collect than ever before.
There are plenty of risks involved when a sequel tries to build on the success of its predecessor. One such problem is attempting to make the game different enough from the original without breaking any of the core elements that made it a success in the first place. There is also the risk that not enough changes have occurred to entice your audience to make the leap to your new game.
How different is Defenders 2 from its predecessor? Read on to find out…
The core gameplay of Defenders 2 remains largely unchanged from the original Prime World: Defenders. You must defend your “Prime” resources from waves of monsters using towers in the typical Tower Defense manner. On each level, you’ll start with a set amount of Prime, the primary resource, and then use this to build towers that will fire at the monsters when they come into range of them.
There are 40 different towers within the game that you can collect in card format. These, along with the 20 different spells, are your nuclear arsenal against the relentless assault of the monsters in the world of Prime. The objective of the monsters changes a little from round to round, as sometimes the monsters are just trying to enter a base that reduces your health and at other times they are attempting to get their hands on your stash of Prime. They can also come from more than one path, and this makes the levels feel a little less repetitive.
The level design is more or less the same as in the first game. There are specific places in the level where you can place your towers, but this game goes further with a fog of war effect on some levels that reduces your vision, and you may only place towers within sight of other towers. This restriction puts a lot more emphasis on the strategic placement of your towers and not just overwhelming the enemy at the start of the level with multiple high-powered towers.
Weather effects have also been added to the game, such as tornadoes and meteor storms that can destroy your defenses. This may seem like a random addition thrown in to differentiate the game from its predecessor, and it essentially is. It certainly adds more pressure to the game, but this could have been achieved just as easily with more powerful monsters or a restriction on your Prime resources.
To build a tower, you spend Prime. As you level up throughout the game you will have access to more Prime at the start of the round. This can make proceedings feel rather relaxed as you will also earn tower cards at a reasonable enough pace to upgrade your towers’ firepower to cope with the increasingly difficult levels. At no point in the game did I struggle with a level, and if I made a mistake, I could easily restart it to try a different approach. There are no drawbacks to this as Defenders 2 doesn’t use an energy system to limit your playtime (thankfully!).
There are more ways to upgrade your towers than ever before. In Defenders 2, you have to not only upgrade their firepower, but also the total number you can deploy. You can do this by merging two of the same card which also gives them a little kick concerning overall power, too. Most of the firepower improvements come from having the tower card in your line-up so that it may earn experience at the end of a round. The game keeps their power level in check by limiting them to your player level as well.
Runes add a new way to enhance your towers and spells. There are a few types that can only fit into particular slots. These are unlocked once you’ve made some decent headway in the game’s campaign. Speaking of the campaign, Defenders 2 lacks any sense of a story mode, and there appears to be no purpose to your battles beyond leveling up and just beating off waves of monsters with your towers! This is forgivable however when the gameplay is as solid as this.
The graphics seem to have received minimal updates, if any. Looking back at the screenshots from Prime World: Defenders, we can see that the monsters and towers look much the same. The only real changes have come from the user interface which appears much cleaner and more refined than before. The sound effects are very similar too, with the tower sound effects remaining unchanged. There are additions to the newer tower types and weather effects that add to the overall aesthetic of Defenders 2.
MODES AND FEATURES
There is only one play mode in Defenders 2, but it does incorporate a PvP element that is used to break the monotony of playing similar looking levels over and over.
The world map is shrouded in a fog that can be uncovered by using Silver (the soft in-game currency) to explore that area. Certain areas can only be explored once you have reached a prerequisite level. This continues throughout the game so that the gameplay is paced according to your power level.
This restriction ensures that no level is too difficult for you to defeat. You can, however, attempt the same level of a harder mode once you’ve defeated it at least once. The hard mode grants better rewards for its increased difficulty level and will test your strategic placements much more than the original difficulty level.
There is a minor PvP element included in Defenders 2 that feels very gimmicky. There are spots on the map that show a mine-type icon and a player’s name above it. If you battle with them, you will fight a level like most others except that when you win, you are essentially enslaving the player to work in that mine for the resources it provides. Most of the time it is Silver that is produced and can be collected every now and again. This goes a long way to providing you with the resources needed to purchase many of the tower or spell card booster packs.
Towers are upgraded through the use of duplicate tower cards or special consumable cards that can do one of two things: grant experience points or provide an additional deployment level. Most towers come with a maximum number of deployments allowed and so you’ll need to pay attention to your limitations on deployment when you have that tower in your line-up.
Runes have added another way to increase the power of your spells and towers. These are found by defeating specific levels that only offer runes as a reward, as most other levels grant Silver or tower cards. Other resources are scattered throughout the world of Prime which offer even more ways to upgrade and enhance your towers. These new enhancements may feel like a great inclusion, but the rate at which you can acquire these is actually relatively slow and thus makes very little impact on the overall gameplay.
In-game achievements, missions, and goals give you something to strive for beyond just endless hours of a repetitive process. They will award Stars (the premium in-game currency) that are claimed once you’ve met the achievement objective. You will hit a number of these through regular play, but some you will have to hunt by meeting set criteria. I like the inclusion of features like this, as being rewarded for playing is something that keeps me wanting to play so I am less likely to put the game down.
DECKBUILDING AND STRATEGY
Defenders 2 offers little in the way of a deck editing feature. You simply swap towers and spells in and out of your line-up as per the level you’re about to face. You will be doing this quite often, so the level preview comes in handy when it comes to assigning the correct towers for that level. However, you can almost keep the same line-up throughout the early part of the game without any penalties.
Spells add a great way to clear difficult to manage monster waves, such as those that are fast-moving or greater in number. I found little use for most of the spells until I encountered specific enemy types that my towers often found too hard to cope with alone. Most levels can be completed without having to rely on a single spell, and if you can manage this feat, you will earn a nice little achievement.
The positioning of your towers is everything. You may be able to clear a level with poor positioning, but you certainly won’t reap the maximum in rewards for losing some life or Prime. Whatever Prime or life you have left at the end of the battle will then be converted to Silver, which you need for continued adventure and booster packs.
I would also recommend that you upgrade the number of towers you can deploy as much as you can. This is especially important for your more powerful towers for the later parts of the game. Being able only to deploy one of a type of a tower will adversely change your overall effectiveness against the monster waves you’ll be facing. Lastly, upgrades are your friends. Perform them at every opportunity!
Taking everything into account, you may get the impression that there really isn’t enough in the way of changes to entice you to pick up Defenders 2 over its predecessor. The lack of a story – when one was present in Prime World: Defenders – gives you even less of a connection to the game’s world.
There are some additions to the game that have almost no bearing on the overall gameplay. The resources you can collect to empower your towers are slow to acquire as are the number of rune levels available at any one time. The weather effects feel gimmicky and an almost desperate attempt to make Defenders 2 more challenging.
The fact remains that the game is actually fairly easy from the start, with the only real challenge coming from the hard versions of a level once it has been completed on its normal difficulty. The only reason to embark on the more difficult mission is for the greater reward it offers, but it isn’t necessary to stay at the maximum power level for your player level.
Defenders 2 is slightly disappointing only in the sense that the first game was so good, I had (perhaps impossibly) high expectations for a sequel. I was hoping for so much more when you consider just how good Prime World: Defenders is.
If I were to recommend one over the other, I would suggest you visit Prime World: Defenders first. If you enjoy it, then you should also check out Defenders 2 for the simple reason of extending that experience some more. The new features add a minimal amount of weight to the game, but not enough that it makes an enormous difference between the two games.
For more screenshots, click here.
Did you enjoy this review? Like!