Defenders of Ardania

By: on March 14, 2012

[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Most Wanted Entertainment” publishers=”Deep Silver/Paradox Interactive” platforms=”” genres=”Strategy & Simulation” release_date=”March 14, 2012″]

Defenders of Ardania is set in the world of the computer strategy series Majesty. Majesty, developed in 2001 by Cyberlore and published by Micropose, created a unique RTS game set in the fantasy world of Ardania. Instead of directly controlling the units, players would pay the AI bounties in hopes they would go and complete their tasks. This feature made the game more of a simulation-hybrid. Paradox Interactive acquired the rights to Majesty and published the 1C developed Majesty 2 in 2009. After 3 expansions, Paradox then had Most Wanted Games develop a tower-defense spin-off game and to the point of this review, a little gem called Defenders of Ardania. Can Most Wanted Entertainment bring us a game that holds up to the critical acclaim of the original series and yet is still able to compete with the many unique tower defense games we have been gifted with this past year or are we stuck with a sad attempt to move the PC series towards the console audience?

So far this year we have seen tower defense games combined with FPS elements and hack-and-slash dungeon crawler elements. Once a game of Defenders of Ardania is started it becomes clear that this is a tower defense game with strong roots in the strategy genre. Unlike most tower defense games where the waves of enemies come down a set path from an unknown source, the source is clear here… it is the enemies base. The players place towers to protect against enemy waves while also sending waves of their own troops towards the other bases. Other RTS elements creep into gameplay like upgrades, magic, and special squares that give benefits when towers are built there including resources and extended range. Units also gain levels so when the players’ next wave goes to attack it is even stronger than the last. It is a great twist to play both roles in a tower defense game and even better to play a tower defense game as part of an RTS.

Defenders of Ardania is set in the fantasy genre with wizards, elves, dwarves, and just about everything else. The lore and dialogue in the game are strongly campy. Even if you are tired of the fantasy genre, it is nice to play a fantasy game that does not take itself so seriously. The story is pretty simple following along the line that you are king and are attacked and undead are released and you have to go find the source and you gather allies that fill out your army and and and…There are 18 maps pushing this gem of a storyline along and you will probably end up pressing B to start skipping dialogue to get to the gameplay like I did. These 18 maps in single player campaign are the same maps you will use for every other mode. They vary from 2 to 4 player maps with various pathing and special squares in various locations.

The campaign itself is almost set up as one big tutorial where you gradually unlock all your spells, towers, units and upgrades towards the end. Outside of campaign mode there is the multiplayer portion and the skirmish mode. Skirmish allows you play a map as normal which will let you play the map as it was in campaign. You can play survival which is an endless game more in vain of a tried and true tower defense game where you can only make towers, use upgrades, and the enemy only attacks with units. There is also limited resources mode where you have to complete missions with a set amount of resources that do not replenish. You have to have beaten a map in campaign for it to unlock in skirmish mode.

Multiplayer mode is the bread and butter of Defenders of Ardania. It allows you to choose between 3 races. The Humans and their allies that were the player race in campaign is back in addition to two races you fought against, Nature and Underworld. There are stat differences between the races but every unit and tower has it’s equivalent though it might not be as effective in certain situations. All maps are available out of the box though only 6 of them support game modes outside of the standard free-for-all. The other two modes include two on two which has you teaming up and Team Survival which has you and a partner going against two enemy AI just like the single player survival mode. You can set a win condition and time limit at game creation. Time limits and win conditions are recommended otherwise games tend to drag on forever in both single player and multiplayer.

Graphically the Defenders of Ardania appears to use the same engine used back in Majesty 2. While not as high of resolution on the textures, the art style and world layout are almost identical. It has fantasy style that borderlines cartoonish. The camera swings around keeping the world at the isometric view angle while clicking the right stick zooms you in a bit and clicking it again zooms you back out a bit. Zooming in really serves no purpose other than if you want to see clean yet aged textures. The score for the game is incredible and is right up there with movie scores. In fact I was shocked to find out my brother was watching the trailer for this game when I heard the music from another room. The voice acting can be questionable but I believe that was the intended result since the camp level of the story and dialogue is also high.

Score: 8/10

Defenders of Ardania is yet another great twist on the tower defense genre and ranks right up there with other XBLA titles like Orcs Must Die! and Dungeon Defenders. It is colorful, campy, and full of towers committing mass murder.

About Brandon Koch

I write stuff. I play stuff. I code stuff.