XBLA 360 Review: Defenders of Ardania

Often in tower defense games, I’ve felt unfulfilled. As fun as they might be, my nature is one of attack. Sitting back and waiting as the enemy pounds away at me seems like something I should be doing while my flanking assault readies itself to launch deep into the enemy rear. Defenders of Ardania remedies this situation by allowing you to, while assaulting by the enemy horde, to fight back, launching troops at the enemy base and returning pummel with pummel.

Conceptual, the game is has all the fundamentals of any tower defense game. Build up your grid from a variety of towers, with upgrades and a wide variety of towers to choose from. You’ll need a good mix, too, because enemies will attack from both the ground and the air. A nice feature allows you to build your towers a certain distance from currently emplaced towers. This means you can continually expand out your defense grid (at least until you reach the tower limit, which is sadly is a mere 10). Once you’ve built your grid, you can take the fight to the enemy, launching waves of troops in whatever mix you wish. They gain experience as they fight (successfully or not), eventually allowing you to construct hero units of great strength.

Fear my Eagle King.

All of that is well and good, and functions well, but something is missing. Defenders of Ardania, once you actually start playing, is rather dull.  Every match, I’m able to build an impenetrable mass of towers, which, since the AI doesn’t deem attacking them to be useful, I never have to rebuild them. This leaves me with only soldiers to build.  You can launch them in masses, and they march in a straight line to the enemy base. You can vary the mix, I suppose, and alter their routes, but you have no control over them.  The entire game (save for the brief moments when you’re actually building things) is spent watching soldiers from each side march in a straight line to their deaths.

Some of the more interesting matches (and certainly the most compelling fights from the campaign) involve up to four separate players. Deciding against whom to send your troops, or which way your defenses should point adds some strategic layer to the game. The campaign itself is a bit of a slog. Each mission opens with an un-skippable cutscene that consists of text and voiceovers. These dialogues (since there’s no actual video) are long, badly voiced, and poorly written and the fact that there’s no way to fast forward through them makes them incredibly grating. I do like the between-mission narrator, who is hilarious and has a lot of personality. He numbs me to the pain I’m about to feel when I start the mission.

Defenders of Ardania has some interesting ideas. It’s just not very fun. If you’re looking for a different twist on tower defense, you might want to give the game a look. But for those looking for a deeper experience would be better off elsewhere.

 

At the top you'll see the dialogue you come to dread.

Pros

  • Taking the offense in tower defense
  • Unique 3 or 4 player matches

Cons

  • Tedious
  • Lacks strategic depth (especially in two player matches)
  • Voice acting and writing is an atrocity

2 / 5

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Author: Tony Odett View all posts by
A member of the Perfectly Sane Show crew and Vagary.tv's Features Editor, Tony brings the smart and funny (and the rapine and pillage...). Also known as The Strategy Gamer, Tony declares it his duty to get as much coverage as possible for what should be everyone's most loved genre.