Review: Defender II (Android) – Monsters, Crossbows and Fireballs oh my!

Defender II is a tower defense title for your Android powered smart phone where you must defend your castle wall from an ever-increasing army of various monsters. To do this you must use your badass crossbow and various magic (and other upgrades) to fend off their advances. Featuring what seems like a countless number of stages and an online multiplayer, Defender II offers a lot for a free (no really) mobile title.

Suck on my fireball!

Full disclosure, I’ve only had a smart phone for about a month. I know, I’m not always an early adopter, go ahead and make fun.  That said, in the past month I’ve given a fair share of the ridiculously large amount of free games on the Google Play marketplace a try and for the most part have found little if anything that really caught my interest.  Poor gameplay and free games that aren’t really free plague the casual game market in general, and this is equally true on Google Play.  Even Angry Birds has never really struck me as amazing, rather just a game that was at the right place at the right time.  So imagine my surprise when I booted up Defender II and found a game that I could barely pull myself away from for the next several hours, even now it calls to me, taunting me to leave this review half finis…

Seriously though, Defender II is the best game I’ve played so far on a phone.  Tower Defense games and mobile games both have stigmas attached to them, so this may seem like a bold statement. It kind of is, and should be quantified.  Defender II would be so-so on a console, but as a mobile game it is a solid gaming experience.  Offering crisp, colorful graphics with simple but fun and engaging gameplay.

The top right screen is a multiplayer competitor

Defender II is played by using your finger to aim your crossbow; holding it down for non-stop continuous fire. Controls are spot on and only when trying to use a magic attack in a panic do they ever seem to fail you (or you fail them, I’m not sure).  With each enemy defeated you receive coins, for each stage completed you receive crystals.  Coins and crystals are used to upgrade your cross bow, magic attacks (variants of a fire ball, lighting and ice), and your castle wall itself.  Coins are pretty plentiful; crystals are limited to only two per level completed.  You can choose to buy coins or crystals with real money to speed things along (and also obtain an ad-free version of the game) but it is completely unnecessary except for those who are very impatient.

In fact, half the fun of Defender II is the grinding process.  You still receive coins for levels that you fail to successfully beat, so other than time there is little keeping coins out of your reach.  Crystals are the real rare currency and the best way to get them if you are stuck in the local campaign is the multiplayer.  Multiplayer pits you against another player facing the same siege of monsters. Whoever last longer is the winner, and will get a crystal for a bonus.  Coins are also plentiful in multiplayer on account of the large amount of enemies.  Multiplayer is a little screwy at times, mostly because the algorithm for matchmaking seems to often have you facing players notably more or less upgraded than yourself; making for often too easy or too difficult to win scenarios.  That said, the fact that the primary grinding method is a competitive multiplayer is a brilliant move on the part of the developers, DroidHen Games.

That moat would cost soo many crystals...

Also keeping the game fresh and fun is that levels do not seem to have set waves of enemies, meaning that while the amount and make-up of the levels is the same, the order and consistency changes with each playthrough. This means that each attempt at a level is different, and you can always get lucky and get an easier load-out if a level is giving you a hard time (most likely to be any of the boss levels which occur every ten levels in the local game). Once you start reaching the higher upgrade levels though you become a nearly unstoppable monster-killing machine, equipped with a lava moat and automated defenses to help fend off the attacks, along with meteor showers, lightning storms, multiple arrow shots and more.

Bow to my many upgrades!

Defender II is a fun, great looking and addictive game that deserves to be up there with the likes of Angry Birds in terms of popularity (though it likely won’t, lacking the cute, very family friendly image of upset fowl).  For the ridiculous price of nothing there really is no reason to not pick up and spend some time in Defender II if you have an Android powered phone.  In the end, the only things counting against the game are its simplicity and somewhat monotonous gameplay, though for people who enjoy “grinding” in a game, i.e. working towards the next upgrade, this will quickly become a moot point.  There is countless hours of gaming to be had here as several comments on the app’s page describe reaching levels as high as 450 (for a reference point I reached level 52 after a couple of hours of playing).  Got some spare time and an Internet connection?  Go get Defender II now.

Final Rating: 8.7/10

CBR Break Down:
Console Played On
: HTC Hero S (Android)
Time to completion: Many, many hours.
Gamer Score Earned: N/A
Price Bought at: Free on Google Play
Current Price: Free!
Recommend Purchase Price: I said free it is damn it!
Why you should buy it: Hours of simple, addictive fun gameplay for $0.
Why you shouldn’t buy it: You don’t have an Android powered phone? Can’t think of anything else.

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About Tristan Rendo

I've made movies, written and performed music, and in January of 2011 got bored and started the awesome gaming site you see before you. My gaming roots began with the original NES, and endless hours spent spilling quarters into machines at the local arcade. I have a personal collection of over 200 Nintendo 64 games, and for many years it was the only system I owned. I re-entered the modern generation of gaming consoles when I decided to purchase a 360. I typically prefer the single player experience of games, so I’m usually playing through some single-player campaign, but can occasionally be found doing some damage in Halo Reach.