Defense Meets Offense
Tower defense games are plentiful on both XBLA and iOS. However, Defenders of Ardania introduces a new key element to the tried-n-true defense formula: offense.
As entertaining as the offensive side of things sound, DoA suffers from a severe case of imbalance. Instead of outsmarting opponents, just about every match relies on nothing more than perseverance. Even though there is a resource system, each player is limited on the number and type of towers that can be constructed for a given map. Since each player can, and will, essentially build the same type and amount of towers, getting your soldiers to attack the opposition relies on little more than attrition. Some matches, even when using the double speed option, can take an hour to complete and require minimal input. And instead of making the gameplay more exciting, the ability in upgrading units only makes the tug-of-war progression worse.
Furthering the off balancing issues, the game in no way distinguishes friendly units from enemy units. The medieval theme of soldiers, castles, dwarfs and elves suit the game well but everything will meld together in a confusing blaze of glory once the action starts to ramp up. Especially in the later levels, there can be so many things going on at once that it is nearly impossible to tell what exactly is going on. And the Sean Connery imitation narration is better than reading simple on-screen text but can become annoying in later levels.
Originally developed for iOS, DoA has made a decent transition to a controller based system as opposed to a touch screen. Also, tapping the bumper to make the grid appear is almost a necessity as the environment lacks any sort of indication on where towers can be built.
Because of the ever present tug-of-war gameplay, defeating the computer AI really depends more on time than skill; even the opening tutorial takes more time than it needs to. This same philosophy also extends even more so when playing against human opponents. Online loses are even more painful thanks to the slow trickling defeat.
DoA deserves a lot of credit for trying something new and bringing new concepts to an old gaming genre. It is just too bad that the final product lacks the excitement and strategy that other tower defense games provide.
Not As Good As: Defensive Grid
Also Try: South Park: Let’s Go Tower Defense Play
Wait For It: a balancing patch?
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