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    dkirschner's Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC)

    [February 7, 2014 11:29:03 AM]
    Woohoo, completed all DLC. I was a little bummed that none of it was as difficult as those final levels of the main campaign, like the very last level where I had to create a map of it in Excel to figure out how to beat it. But, the DLC is all quality maps. The least impressive were the basic map packs.

    The Portal 2 themed You Monster DLC was my absolute favorite. They got the woman who voices GlaDOS to come, and the story is that you find yourself in this "Human Annihilation Testing Center" or something. GlaDOS runs tests on you to make sure you are fit to save the world in the event of an alien invasion, but of course she is insane and just wants to keep you there testing forever. She subdues Fletcher (the Defense Grid AI) so that she can test you. You have to solve here increasingly ridiculous levels until Fletcher can get back online, override her and yall defeat her. I also enjoyed You Monster the most because it changes up the tower defense formula. Like in Portal, GlaDOS changes the rules that you're used to. One level, you can only place Command towers and she places all the rest. One level, she periodically takes away certain types of towers. Another level, she sends massive waves of enemies across an open floor for you to mow down. Very cool and creative levels!

    My other favorite was the Containment DLC, which was I think the only one alongside You Monster to have a new storyline. In it, you follow the aliens through the portal they used to come to Earth and go to their homeworld. A couple of their homeworld levels looked pretty neat. But, you begin with only basic towers, and then with the help of an AI you find there, you repel the aliens off that world. There's a story spoiler in there that I won't ruin, but it's pretty cool. There were a couple instances of really new types of puzzles. Although it wasn't as creative as You Monster, none of the others besides You Monster and Containment did anything new, so I appreciated any new stuff.

    The biggest letdown was the community levels, which really weren't that interesting or difficult. I thought they would have pieced together some really cool or hardcore maps made by people, but they were actually really accessible. Anyway, the "it never got as hard as the end of the main campaign" isn't a complaint at all, just an observation. Each level in the entire game has like 3-6 challenge modes, so if you want it to be harder, you can turn it up to 11 by setting limited resources, 100 waves of enemies, reverse levels and more. Tons of replay value.

    I'm keeping it installed in case I get a tower defense itch since I have...yeah...hundreds of challenge levels. I'm considering the game beat though and totally pleased with myself about that! Excellent tower defense!
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    [January 24, 2014 01:37:18 PM]
    These were my final words on Defense Grid on July 31, 2011:

    "I finally decided to stop playing after seeing the last level, which is a, yes, giant scary multi-story grid with two entry/exit points. I just don't even want to try, it's so intimidating. I know it will be fun to mess around with, but I also know it will take for damn ever, and I will die a million times...I might come back to it in the future if I ever feel like punishing myself."

    Well GUESS WHAT. I beat it. 2-and-a-half years later, I beat it. I opened up MS Excel. I made a giant grid of that final, previously impossible level, and then recreated it. I mapped out the land and the bridges. I put Os for tower spots, blacked out floor-less cells. Then I studied it looking for the best ways to route enemies and I color-coded the tower cells where I needed to build. Then I assigned tower types to each cell.

    I alt+tabbed over and over in the beginning of the level to be sure I was building according to my map. It took a bunch of tries. I even got an achievement for restarting a level from a checkpoint 5 times or more. One time I made it to wave 28/30, died, went to restart from checkpoint, accidentally clicked the wrong button and lost all my progress. The next time I made it that far, I won. I won by ONE CORE. How close can you get?!

    I took screenshots. I cheered. My girlfriend looked at me like I was crazy. I looked through all the DLC I have and realized there are still like 30 levels. I cheered some more. I beat the main game. It was epic.
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    [July 31, 2011 10:39:38 AM]
    I'm going to put this one down (bam!). Best tower defense I've ever played, though unsurprising since I've only played free online ones, and Plants vs. Zombies, which has a different enough presentation for me to not lump them too close together. I didn't beat the game. I have one level left. I got stuck for hours on the third-to-last level, which was very open-ended with its space. Basically, the linear levels are easier; the spacious levels are harder. Maybe this is where the game gets its name, Defense Grid, because the later levels are just that, giant scary grids. Instead of the aliens taking their little designed route, they are given a huge amount of space/number of paths to run, and you have to figure out where to block them. They are almost totally re-routable in the later levels. There was a lot of trial and error going on, a lot of studying the map and tracing my finger on the monitor, trying to figure out optimal choke points, temporal tower placements, etc.

    DG is a lot of fun, but it gets borderline tedious. I finally decided to stop playing after seeing the last level, which is a, yes, giant scary multi-story grid with two entry/exit points. I just don't even want to try, it's so intimidating. I know it will be fun to mess around with, but I also know it will take for damn ever, and I will die a million times, and I'd rather play something else instead. I did, out of curiosity, look at the extra map packs I got, and they are the same: crazy huge grid-like levels with tons of different spots for choke points and strategy. The levels are just too much.

    I would enjoy more creative, less open levels, such as my favorite level in the entire game, the bonus Portal 2 promo level. This one also features GlaDOS. You're at the Aperture Science Lab and GlaDOS is running a test to see how well you would fare in preventing human annihilation at the hands of invading aliens. The level had some unique design that was missing in the whole rest of the game, and no, sadly, it didn't use portals, nor did I get a 'portal tower.' I'd attach a screenshot if I could, but basically enemies entered from one of two spots: the top of the map, where they ran past a 3x3 block of towers, and then over a bridge with some random towers next to it, and then through a door, BEHIND the wall (where you couldn't shoot them) and down a ramp, then back out into the open, along a conveyor belt lined with towers to the cores, then out the exit, which was past another 3x3 or 4x4 or something bunch of towers that I never had to build.

    The second entry point was new. Masses of enemies ran out from the left side of the screen underneath the conveyor belt to a second core depot, and then ran back across the floor to a second exit where they came from. The first time the mass came, I had no idea it was coming because the entry/exit point there didn't show up on my tactical overlay. There was a chessboard setup of towers on the floor they ran across, so I immediately constructed a central temporal and surrounding concussion towers, then lined the edges with gun and laser turrets. It was a lot of fun killing the giant swarms, and I bet if I played again that level would be super easy. As is, I beat it first try, but with only 1 core left!

    So yeah, that's Defense Grid. Fun game. I might come back to it in the future if I ever feel like punishing myself.
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    [July 4, 2011 09:59:17 PM]
    Defense Grid is fantastic. I tend not to play tower defense games though because they get too repetitive, each one being practically the same thing. Defense Grid tosses a few new things in the mix. I began playing just last night because of Steam's little Summer Camp sale, a mean trick to make me spend money on games and time playing them for achievements that reward me tickets that get placed in a drawing to win the top 10 games on my wishlist. There are 6 or 7 achievements per day. One always involves something to do with the Steam community, like uploading a screenshot or leaving a comment on someone's profile. Then the others are in-game achievements for various Steam games. So far I've owned, oddly, 1 game each day of the contest. I had to get 7 headshots in a row in Lead & Gold without dying. I got 37 by spawn camping people with lag. I had to get set on fire and put it out by jumping in water in Team Fortress 2. It was fun trying to get burned just right by a pyro and make it into the water before dying, and I finally got it after 45 minutes. There's one for this game called Magicka that P bought me the other day, but I haven't done it. Then this one for Defense Grid to beat this one challenge mode where you can't use Guns and Cannons on 5 different levels.

    So what's unique about DG? For one, the levels are purposefully laid out. Of course all TD games' levels are purposefully laid out, but in DG you don't simply have a path and an infinite number of squares on which to build towers. Since each tower has an attack power, a range, and a firing rate, and the 15 enemy types have strengths and weaknesses to the various towers, you really have to think about which towers are ideal for which locations. For example, there are aliens (the enemies) with shield that can only be taken out with Guns or Cannons. So if you don't have Guns or Cannons to take down the shields, those aliens steal your cores. There are also flying aliens that take a different path than ground aliens, and you have to have towers that can shoot flying aliens.

    Cores are objects that keep the Defense Grid active, keep the weapons online. If the aliens take all your cores, it's game over. Each map has an entry point and an exit point, often the same point, such that aliens enter the map, take the shortest route to the cores, collect 1-3 cores depending on the alien, and take the shortest route to the exit. Some levels are linear, and some you can create paths for the aliens to walk. I have gotten stuck on both types, the more linear and the more open. Flying aliens have a set route that you cannot alter. If flying aliens get a core, it's gone forever. But if ground aliens get a core, they still have to walk with it to the exit. When you kill an alien carrying a core, it slowly floats back to where the cores are. Aliens, since they take the shortest route to pick up cores, will alter their path to pick up floating cores instead of walking all the way to the place where cores are stored. That's usually not a good thing! There are also 'boss' aliens that take a ton of damage. I think I've encountered like 2.5 types so far, one that moves slow, one that moves fast and is only susceptible to lasers, and the half-boss that spawns additional aliens, which is bad because they draw your towers' fire instead of the half-boss.

    Oh, towers are also upgradeable, which is not that unique, but they do have line of sight! I've never played a TD game with LoS. So you want those Gun and Laser towers on the front lines, and those Cannon and Meteor towers with giant ranges and arcing trajectories on the back. And I unlocked the Orbital Laser a level ago, which is a giant blast with a super long recharge that kills everything in a little radius. I'm still learning all the tower/alien types and honing strategy, as I haven't gotten my Steam Summer Camp achievement yet. I've done 3/5 of the challenge levels. Where the other achievements in other games have taken 45 minutes or less, this one requires you to play most of the way through the game first. A relatively steep time investment, but hey, awesome game that I would have played some other time. Might as well play it now!
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    dkirschner's Defense Grid: The Awakening (PC)

    Current Status: Finished playing

    GameLog started on: Monday 4 July, 2011

    GameLog closed on: Thursday 6 February, 2014

    dkirschner's opinion and rating for this game

    Really fun tower defense game with some gameplay twists on the genre. Hard too. --------------- Later levels are insane. --------- Booyah, all DLC defeated. Great tower defense. You Monster is especially fantastic.

    Rating (out of 5):starstarstarstarstar

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