" I also, for an extra bit of humor, pretended that the little colonists guys hanging off my wings during rescues would get sick and vomit if I barrel rolled enough. That made me have an even better time. "
Title: Defender by Midway
Format: PS2 action flyer revival
Reviewing Monkey: Our Ape Masters
The Hype: For those of us old enough to remember gaming in the early 80s, you'll instantly remember the original Defender arcade game with a warm nostalgia. The old side scroller let you blast countless aliens, pick up colonists, and generally move through level after level of heavily pixalized action in an attempt to earn a high enough score that "Arcade Bunnies" would take notice of you, love you, and eventually pitch the idea of a movie based on your harrowing gaming experience and phenomenal Defender skills to the Hollywood executives that they bought their cocaine from (hey, it was the 80s after all). But will this new adaptation on the PS2 blaze a similarly brilliant trail or be the game equivalent of an Odyssey console? Read on, my monkeys…read on.
What This Monkey Thought...
Graphics: Say it with me, "oooh…aaahhh…" Defender is, without a doubt, a very pretty experience. With a third person presentation, most of this attention is naturally focused on both the ship you're flying and the horizon/sky, but the environments, enemies, and effects are all given really nice touches to keep Defender very visually appealing. The ground races below you at a nice speed simulating clip, the skies are vast and detailed, and the colors from lasers and explosions are wonderfully vibrant and dynamic. Also worthy of note, and something this wannabe-warhound really took an interest in, is the way the ships are modeled. Unlike many of the space shooters out there, Defender must have actually had some thought put into their fighters because there is a wonderfully logical and military feel to the lot. 4 out of 5
Playability: Moving from a side scrolling button pounder to a third person shooter isn't always the easiest transition, but I'm thrilled to say Defender pulls it off far better than I ever would have expected. With play similar to the Rogue Squadron or Star Trek Invasion, Defender uses just about every single button on your Dual Shock 2 to pivot, roll, climb, and dive your ship through the planet and space levels it offers. Fortunately, though, in the face of what could be a daunting control scheme, the moves come naturally, the controls are nicely responsive, and the button placement is very intuitive. The premise behind the game, simply enough, is that you fly around and kill all the aliens you can find. And though there are a number of other mission types (rescue, escort, etc.) they all really boil down to that central concept. That being said, however, a whole lot is done to keep Defender from falling into the "go there, kill that" rut. For starters, there's the colonists you can rescue. That's right, the little helpless buggers from the original are back and it's still your job to save them. Doing so, however, will earn you more than just points- it will also allow you to exchange them for either more lives (which you will need) or artillery and weaponry that you can ferry up to the front lines to help you fight. This gives the game a very cool sense of strategy as you are not only flying around blasting shit but also making tactical decisions based on your style of play. It's a lot of fun. In addition, the levels are also composed of a number of different objectives that you don't have to complete…but doing so will earn you more money to be used in buying ship upgrades and yet more lives (which you will still need). These factors, combined with an above average AI and some great scenarios, really does make Defender a joy to play. 4 out of 5
Story and Drama: Well, I've got to give them credit…there is a story to Defender. It's a trite and worn out story, but it's a story all the same. Basically, humans went into space, met aliens, got our asses kicked, and are now on the come back. The aliens, called the Manti, can absorb DNA to mutate themselves into super Manti…thus part of your job, in addition to kicking their butts, is to keep colonists from falling into their hands- lest they become uber-Manti. So, it's not original…but at least it's there. 3.1415926535 out of 5 (Get it? It's worth pi...and it's a sci-fi game...and, damned, I suck)
Multiplayer and Replayability: The game borders on depressingly short and really won't take any time to get through. That's the bad news. It is also entirely linear. That's the worst news. The good news is that they've included both a co-op and deathmatch mode for multiplayer so once you do it on your own you can trick a buddy into joining you for a play through. Unfortunately, however, it'll be even faster the second time through with your friend so you'll well and truly be done after that. 3 out of 5
|All in all, I was really pleased with Defender. Sure, it's a bit on the short side, but the pleasant strategy additions and the gorgeous graphics keep it fun for the duration. I also, for an extra bit of humor, pretended that the little colonists guys hanging off my wings during rescues would get sick and vomit if I barrel rolled enough. That made me have an even better time.|
The Good: Pretty, with good old fashioned shooter fun upgraded with strategy elements.
The Bad: Short and still a little simple overall.
The Overall Ugly: Definitely a fun way to drop a few hours.
What it's Worth: Market probably, on sale definitely!