It's amazing what a little touch-up in graphics and sound can do for a tower-defence game. And Hidden Path Entertainment's Defense Grid: The Awakening is a prime example of that sudden transformation of taking an unoriginal, well-known style of video game and turning it into a masterpiece for your PC.

Gamers at every level of play will face hordes of 15 various alien species that come in waves, all with one simple goal to accomplish: steal your cores. You won't just be asked to protect the cores, you'll be asked to utterly destroy anything that even looks at the brightly lit objects the wrong way.

And your artillery? It comes from the construction of 10 brands of towers, all with different attack levels, ranges and upgrade possibilities. Some of the fortifications include lasers, meteors and temporals that slow down the aliens' movement to the cores. The object of the game is to strategically place these towers across the map to nuke the treasure-snatching creatures and put them out of their misery, piling on gunshots, infernos and laser beams as much as possible.

It's important, however, to take note of the numerous alien types, as each orb-sucking rodent has different health levels, unique capabilities and strategies to slip by your weaponry, swipe a precious core and be on its merry way. There is hardly a dull moment with The Awakening's gameplay, that's for sure. And if you're sitting in between waves and want to speed the action along, you can press and hold the F key for as little or as long as you want, depending on your patience. Some maps even require you to push the aliens away from the cores as long as humanly possible, directing their pathways by the construction of the towers, making them suffer through as much pain as you can, sometimes even passing by the same laser twice in order to steal a core.

Hours will go by before you realise truly how long you've been sitting in front of your computer, as the game becomes addictive in the later stages when you get close to the 20th wave. You'll develop a reaction to the narrating voice and want to flat-out shut him up when he's letting you know your cores are being stolen, time after time.

One thing you need to watch out for is after you destroy an alien; the cores slowly float back to the home base. The catch? They can be scooped up by pursuing creatures and taken away from you for good - making proper tower placement even more crucial. The game can get a little repetitive for some, especially when it gets later on in the tougher levels and it seems nearly impossible to guard the cores. Some might close it down in rage while others will become addicted till they beat it. It truly depends on the type of gamer you are.

See also:

Plants vs Zombies review

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Defense Grid: The Awakening: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista
  • dual-core 2.0GHz CPU or higher
  • 1GB RAM (XP) or 1.5GB RAM (Vista)
  • 1GB hard-disk space
  • DirectX 9.0c or higher, June 2008 version or later
  • DirectX 9 video card with shader 3 support and 256MB VRAM
  • Windows XP/Vista
  • dual-core 2.0GHz CPU or higher
  • 1GB RAM (XP) or 1.5GB RAM (Vista)
  • 1GB hard-disk space
  • DirectX 9.0c or higher, June 2008 version or later
  • DirectX 9 video card with shader 3 support and 256MB VRAM

OUR VERDICT

We love tower-defence games, and Defense Grid is one of the better ones we've played. Between this and Plants vs Zombies, tower-defence junkies have a lot to smile about.

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