Freemium games work on the same principle as the arcade games of old, starting off with a simple difficulty curve, corrupting your innocent mind into a crippling dependency on the rewarding feeling of level completion, only to ramp up the difficulty and empty your health bar faster than a fat kid eats cake and concurrently empty your wallet in the same manner. Defender 2 is no different, however it is fun to play even without spending a penny on it.
Defender 2 is a simple defense (Suprise!) game where you wield a gigantic crossbow and shoot the oncoming enemies. It has two modes of play, local and WiFi. At the end of each stage/battle you are rewarded experience, coins and crystals, which are used to unlock a plethora of upgrades.
The game operates well, starting you off with a paltry single arrow shot against few enemies. you slowly start accumulating a myriad of upgrades, and eventually (at around the stage 500 mark) you have a 5-shot crossbow that fires 4 times a second, against walls of enemies. Whilst this is good, and you can feel the gradual difficulty curve, even at stage 500 (Which takes many, many hours) you’re still fighting the same enemies you came across 450 stages ago. Sure there’s 200 more of them on the screen at once, but your castle for the most part is the same and the battlefield is the same blue wasteland it was all that time ago when you started playing.
WiFi mode is actually impressive. It randomly matches you up to another player somewhere across the globe and you both compete against the same wave (you can watch their progress in a mini screen at the top right) to see who lasts longest. However what interests me about this is that every time I have started an online battle, it has auto-matched me to a “suitable” partner in literally seconds, every time. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the online battles are actually pre-recorded player attempts or an AI bot playing, because for a game to have flawless automatching like that would imply an absolutely massive player base. Which to be fair, the numbers do show it to have, but to have such a hardcore gamer base on a mobile platform is rare.
In that case, maybe it serves as a testament to Defender 2’s addictivity. I was shown the game by a friend who spent nearly every minute of his free time (and the majority of his work time) playing it. So I thought I’d give it a play since I can’t remember many mobile games that absorbed that much of my time, and like many hardcore gamers I’m searching for that Holy Grail of a mobile game with the qualities of a hardcore console title. Whilst I admit, I have sunk more hours into the game than I should have, and have still not spent a penny to get anywhere (One of the biggest appeals), this is no Holy Grail. The game rewards hours and hours of gameplay with yet more gameplay, with no finish line in sight, and also with no new enemies, no new backgrounds, no new sounds, no different weapons apart from a crossbow that gets insanely overpowered, no different spells than three you already have, nothing.
At no point will you find yourself so stuck you think “Oh man, I need to buy some coins/crystals”, which is good. Most freemium games attempt to make the game so hard that you will pay (see the earlier arcade machine analogy) and this is what ultimately leads them to be classed as throw-away casual games. But Defender 2 plays it cool, and almost acts like it expects you to sit there for hours on end with hardly anything to show for it!
Graphics wise, the game is basic 2D sprites. They scale well on any device that I have seen it on (My Xperia S, which has an amazing 720p screen, and my friends Samsung Galaxy) but they get old fast. There’s only so many times you can shoot those fast pink ogre’s before you become desensitized and go into autopilot.
Sound, as with any defense game, is dreadful. When you play shooters, say for example COD, there’s always enough going on so that you never really notice the sound of gunfire aside from if it is a good quality, life-like recording or if your M4a1 sounds like a water pistol. However, in a game where literally nothing is happening apart from enemies boringly scrolling towards you, you do notice, and you soon find yourself playing with sound off and your own music on.
By no means a bad game, I can’t help but notice this is a sequel. I haven’t played Defender 1, but I can’t see how this game could have been a sequel to another game. Okay, it has a good amount of upgrades, the 2D art is the worst I’ve seen on a phone and it is has online play, but surely if the core principle of your game is firing a crossbow, it would make sense in the sequel to have two crossbows? Maybe a catapult or even a rocket launcher? And perhaps the enemies could walk diagonally, or in a random path, as opposed to just horizontally strolling towards your castle walls. If they make a Defender 3, they desperately need to expand upon the core gameplay, because there’s only so many times a man can operate one crossbow against hordes of monsters before he gets bored and reverts to flinging angry birds around.
- Addicitve gameplay
- Decent and expansive upgrade system
- Becomes horribly repetitive
- Can only play online against random people
Overall, I would give the game a 3/5, definitely one of the better games on the Android platform but by no means a ‘must have’ title.