Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2, iPod touch 4
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The vertical tower defense game has returned! Defender Chronicles 2 is a sequel to a game released way back in 2009, before Angry Birds was ever released. Yes, such a time once existed. The premise is simlar: levels are laid out like a 2D platformer, where enemies walk horizontally and get to different levels by going up and down stairs. Defense units such as knights and archers can be placed throughout the level to take out these enemies. There’s also a hero unit that can dole out powerful attacks, but is left to their devices at a certain point in the level.
There’s a campaign mode where one of four hero units can be deployed to help take out the enemies, and leveled up with stronger attacks and abilities. Tokens can be earned (or acquired through in-app purchases) to spend on “secrets” that help unlock things like new units, and to buy new equipment for heroes.
The game may be a sequel to a 3-year-old game, but because of its unique perspective, it still feels unique. While there’s a fantasy story that presumably picks up from the prequel (it’s been a very long time since I last played it), it’s not necessary in order to play this one. And while the original was from the days before the iPad (though a separate HD version was later released), this is a universal app, though there's no iCloud support.
The problem with the vertical format is that it becomes very difficult to tell where danger is coming from, and the fact that levels have completely different (and not entirely clear) entry and exit points makes it a challenge to formulate strategies to take out enemies because something could be going on in a completely different portion of the level without any real indicator of danger. The levels are also way too long; each one seems to quickly reach a point where letting the level play out becomes a matter of tedium, just sitting back and letting things play out, occasionally deploying or upgrading defenses.
Plus, the level design can just be frustrating to deal with. One level, Razortooth, does something that is just severely annoying. It throws a sudden wrench where enemies that split into smaller ones suddenly pop up, and they can end a game in seconds because there’s just too many to kill, unless a strategy of using more enemies that are less powerful is employed, because that’s the only way to kill enough of the little guys to not lose, it seems. It just seems like a cheap trick, and it’s one that occasionally pops up throughout the game.
Defender Chronicles 2 should satisfy those that want a unique spin on tower defense, or were clamoring for a sequel years after the innovative original game, though it is something of a flawed title.