STAFF REVIEW of Defender (Xbox)


Tuesday, June 24, 2003.
by Yellowlab

Defender Box art Ahhhh, the classic Defender arcade game brings back fond memories. At it's time of release in the early 80's, it was a groundbreaking game that incorparated things like "particle effects", and actually had gameplay elements that occurred off the screen (the first game to do so). I lost a lot of quarters to this classic (I loved it and was never that good at it. A terrible combination for machines that eat quarters). Fast forward nearly 25 years and we get a 3D version of Defender from the same company that made the 2D version, Midway. There is nothing groundbreaking about the new one, and it is about as deep as the original. But the game succeeds at being fun, and it brings back fond memories of the original. They also pack in a few bonus features on the game disk, such as a short feature on the original game, making of the new one, and a few trailers of other Midway games.


Defender is a fairly simple game. Pick one of 6 upgradable ships (4 are unlocked through the game), save colonists by picking them up, and shoot the evil aliens. Just like the original, the aliens try to pick up the poor colonists and devour them. And just like the original, the aliens turn into mutated super beasts if you let them succeed. Add in a few dreaded "escort missions" (protect some supply ship) and that is Defender. As I said before, it is fun flying around shooting things, saving colonists, but it does tend to get a little boring after about the 10th mission of the same thing. The ships handle very well, and have some solid weapons. It's very easy to pick up and learn to play. After the first level, I felt like I had mastered everything there was to know. There are different play modes such as deatmatch and cooperative. I was surprised to see the co-op and deathmatch modes as it doesn't seem like a game that would have those features. Neither mode is very entertaining, but it was a nice add on. Overall, the 1 player story mode is a little on the short side, and you can clear the game in about 8 hours.


The graphics are not Defender's strong point. The environments are bland and start to look alike after a few missions. They seem to alternate between snow covered areas and something that resembles the surface of Mars. Everything else looks pretty drab, and there is nothing of note here.


I was pleasantly surprised to see the custom soundtrack option, but you can only choose a maximum of 10 songs for the playlist. They use a lot of the classic sounds which was a nice feature. I'll give it a 5 in this category for the custom soundtrack option.


Suggestions:
Spice up the environments and graphics. Some more diversity in the game play, and not so many "escort missions".


Overall: 7.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 6.0 / 10
Sound: 10.0 / 10

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