Co-Written by Tad De La Garza
My experience with this game is something I never want to remember. I have never played a game that has made me want to pluck out my hair one by one with tweezers, or made me want to throw my controller at the T.V. This tower defense game makes a valiant effort at adding a different kind of spice to the genre by attempting to add clever dialogue, appealing graphics and an engaging story. And boy, what a terrible attempt that was.
Defenders of Ardania tackles the defense tower genre. Like any other defense tower game, you, the player, must defend your tower from incoming forces while attacking the opponent. The opening tutorial introduces basic gameplay and attempts to make the player understand the game and what it’s about. Keyword: attempt. That being said, it does a really poor job of getting the player acquainted with things to come.
The story was probably one of the worst out there. The plot was cliché. Two rivaling kingdoms. The player assumed the role of the King, guiding your troops through the battlefield. Historically and factually correct. Please note the sarcasm. Nothing that took place within the story made you want to continue. Yeah, it was that bad. This coming from a gamer who loves a good, driving story. This was a huge disappointment.
The first level had an unnecessary amount of time wasted by repeating actions that quickly grew old. There was a teacher with an annoying voice guiding you through every action and leaves you irritated. The game attempts to make clever gameplay by allowing freedom as the match ensues. However, you have little to no control over your troops. Once you select and dispatch them, they automatically begin to attack the opposing tower. It’s not until the third level that you’re allowed to place a “bounty” on certain towers/enemies. This is executed poorly because your soldiers never stop and attack, they continue to march as if performing a drive-by Grand Theft Auto style, minus the awesome. This made it especially annoying during boss battles. The boss would march from his tower to yours and your soldiers would continue to march on, sometimes not even attacking. As soon as he entered your tower, it was game over. I would spend over 20 minutes effortlessly attacking my opponent but when the boss came out, I would have to actually make an effort to defeat the boss, most of the time failing miserably. That made, absolutely, no sense to me. There were numerous times (I lost count) when the boss health bar would be completely absent, making him invincible. This caused for frustrating moments and an unnecessary waste of time.
The graphics were mostly mediocre. They were definitely not up to par with the Xbox 360. There were occasions where the game completely lagged for about 10 seconds. It was always at the same exact place too. Add the disappointing graphics to the disappointing gameplay and story and you have one of the worst games ever created.
The multiplayer adds a more satisfying feel of the game, with up to 4 people able to battle it out. But if you’re playing with people experienced as you, you’ll find yourself playing endlessly. This is due to the players ability to heal themselves, via timer, and thus creates a frustrating scenario where winning seems more of a chore than feeling some sort of accomplishment. One of my biggest gripes was the menu system. Buying items, particularily buildings, shows a stats window that blocks a large portion of the playing field, confusing the gamer. It’s even worse when playing with someone next to you. Neverthless, Defenders of Ardania was made for multiplayer, the large maps are perfect for this, but the interface leaves a lot to be desired and somehow creates more problems than it’s single-player counterpart. If you’re willing to ignore the time-length and a few flaws, you’ll find yourself much more engaged in the multplayer setting. Having said that, I’m pretty new to the whole defense tower genre, having only played Orcs Must Die. In that respect, I’m certainly glad Defenders of Ardania wasn’t my first tryout . If it was, I might have lost interest in the entire genre.
In conclusion, Defenders of Ardania is a pile of attempts and failures. It tried to make an innovative title that, unfortunately, fell short. The map causes a big jumbled mess that makes you scratch your head trying to understand. It’s a train wreck all the way through, and I hope I never have to play thing game again. If you considered picking up this title, please think twice. There are other titles to explore.