Game Rant's Trung Bui reviews Defenders of Ardania
The tower defense genre of games compliments quick bursts of gameplay. Perhaps 5-10 minute sessions where a player wants to be entertained with a simple concept of resource allocation to build structures that lay siege.
Unfortunately, Defenders of Ardania does not make the the genre appealing on Xbox 360. Rather than something simple and enjoyable, Defenders of Ardania is mostly boring and underwhelming.
Let's get right into it and say this: The gameplay in Defenders is, as mentioned, boring. Focusing exclusively on the defense aspect of the game, and nothing else, leaves the player with little to do but essentially manage a spreadsheet of assets and deploy them whenever resources become available. The only form of "offense" the game offers is sending different character types to attack and destroy the enemy tower. This, of course, is the only way to win. The problem? There's no real strategy here. Gameplay breaks-down like this: build a tower in a specified area (occasionally, spots will open up to add more towers), create your own forces to send to the other side, and wait. In Defenders of Ardania, there is a lot of waiting.
The goal of each match is the same, save for variation on the map and units players can deploy. Largely, the experience feels very passive with not much interaction at all. This is a shame, Ardania could have been much more fun if there were some mini-games implemented to add to the waiting. A multiplayer component is available as well - but replacing the tug of war with another person (going through the same frustrations as you are) doesn't improve the experience.
Even in terms of core design choices, graphics and sound, Ardania is pretty lackluster. The awful Sean Connery sound-a-like narrator who lays-out the tutorial is especially irritating. Unless played on a HDTV, there's going to be a lot of squinting to read the text. Zooming in on the battle map allows more appreciation of textures and art, but when zoomed out, it's all pretty impersonal.
Ardania also does a poor job of explaining things. Even in the tutorial level, it barely gives players the basics of construction and battle before shoving them into the proverbial sea of guardsmen who are set to besiege your castle. Still, once the basics are done, the battles are still very anti-climactic and are mere "throw more guys at the enemy before they throw more at you" affairs. The different units don't feel like they really add much of an edge to any given fight, either. Unusually enough, even though players units and enemy units use the same walking space, they never stop to engage. Rather, they pass by without any acknowledgement and continue to sally forth to their mission to obliterate their respective enemy castles. A little more immersion, or at least a sense of humor, and the game might have been a bit more entertaining and fun.
Unfortunately, the tower defense genre of games doesn't make the translation well to a console. Tower defense fans might be better off sticking to playing Tiny Tower on their mobile device, instead of spending the money to play a tower defense game that demands a lot of time - and offers very little fun in return.
Defenders of Ardania is available now for Xbox 360 and PC. Game Rant played the Xbox 360 version for this review.
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