Defenders of Ardania – Review

Filed under Reviews, XBLA Reviews

Every so often a game comes along that tries to redefine a genre by introducing new elements. They do a great job at introducing these elements, but they fail miserably in its execution. Defenders of Ardania also falls victim to this, sadly. Props should be given to the developers, Most Wanted Entertainment, for trying something new with the tower defence genre.

Set in the realm of Majesty, mysterious things are happening and it is your job to find out why it is happening, who is behind it and what their plans are. Yes, this tower defence actually has a story, not that you’ll be interested in it. The story is derivative and it only serves to introduce you to new characters, which unlocks new abilities.

There is the usual tower defence stuff, such as upgrading towers; placing different towers at different locations and having towers target the most threatening enemies first.

What does Defenders of Ardania do different? You get to play both parts! You build towers to defend your base, as usual, but you can also send units to attack the enemy base. No longer are you battling a faceless hoard. You know who your enemy is, why it is important for you to win and you are given the means to do it. This is the most fun part about the game, finding the right combination of units to put in a wave to achieve victory. You should know when to send out a tank to defend your weaker units against towers or when to send forward a runner to distract enemy units and towers.

Introducing this means you now also have to consider units actually fighting each other on their way to the enemy fortress. There are specific units capable of combating enemy units on the ground that you should include in a wave to better the chances of your other units getting through. In some levels you are joined by AI partners to take on multiple enemies, these fights are hectic and very hard to win.

On top of all these “firsts” for the genre, you can also use magic! You unlock magical powers by finding and rescuing characters. It varies from summoning lightning bolts to destroy enemy units and structures to simply casting a healing charm on your fortress.

So, now you know what makes this game so unique. That is, unfortunately, where it stops. The rest of the game is nothing to write home about. It does nothing exceptionally different or well but it does a good job of keeping you entertained, for a while…

The gameplay gets old, fast! Soon you’ll find yourself spamming units just in order to get through enemy defences, no longer thinking tactically, because you’ve been sitting on the same level for almost an hour!

The game might not look amazing, but it serves its purpose and the levels are varied enough in appearance to make sure you do not get bored too fast.  The music is brilliant and fits the setting perfectly! It is the one thing I enjoyed most about this game, though I tend to take music too seriously in games. The most annoying part of this game: the sound effects. When your towers are firing at enemies, enemies’ towers are firing at your units, you’ll be tempted to open the option menu and turn sound-effects off. In fact, that is what I did. It is just too repetitive, annoying and noisy.

There is the option to play online with up to four players. This is far more fun since playing with/against other people means you don’t have to spam units as you are actually facing off against someone who makes mistakes.

The game is available on XBOX Live for 1200 Microsoft Points which is a rather steep price point when compared to the quality of game you can get for the same amount.

The game is okay. It will provide you with some fun and loads of frustration. I would suggest holding onto those Microsoft moneys and spend it on something else (something better). Remember that imminent XBOX release of Minecraft? I’m just asking…

– Werner Marais

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