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Posted on Oct 14, 2011 in Electronic Games

Defenders of Ardania – PC Game Preview

By Jim Zabek

Defenders of Ardania PC Game Preview. Publisher: Paradox Interactive. Developer: Most Wanted Entertainment.

A Towering Genre

In the last few years there has been an explosion of tower defense games. Not just good ones, great ones. Games like Plants vs Zombies and Defense Grid have proven that this is a genre that not only belongs on the PC, but full-on rocks with the best of them. Tower defense games aren’t just for your daddy’s handheld gaming device (or smartphone) anymore.

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Most Wanted Entertainment is now working on a new tower defense game that will soon be published by Paradox Interactive. Strategy PC gamers may find the developer’s name sounds familiar. Most Wanted Entertainment was the creator of Joint Task Force. Since then Most Wanted has been busy, but the greatest focus of their efforts has been in the casual games market for the Nintendo DS. Defenders of Ardania moves them back to the PC for the first time in five years and with it comes some creativity that adds a new twist to tower defense gameplay.

Defenders of Ardania is set in the fantasy world of Majesty, a real-time fantasy game. Similar to the unique Majesty RTS series, this tower defense game offers some interesting twists on gameplay. Instead of taking a purely passive role in setting up a maze of defenses through which the AI blindly stomps toward the player’s castle, Defenders of Ardania offers a kind of symmetrical style of gameplay where the player also has offensive forces to send into the teeth of an opposing defense. As an admixture to this players also can dabble in a bit of magic and they have some incentives to not only build, but also remove towers from the map. And with a final flourish of creative departure from the traditional tower defense mold, Defenders of Ardania offers a two-player multiplay option.

Friendly troops wind their way through friendly defenses before trying to storm the enemy’s castle.

Game maps offer opportunities for maze creation but are somewhat limited by a cap on the number of towers a player can build. This tower cap creates a tempting opportunity to shuffle the map by destroying friendly towers in order to create a shortcut for friendly troops, then quickly rebuild them to wall off direct access to the player’s castle from enemy units. Care must be taken, however, because an opponent can take advantage of the gap opened in the defenses—and the AI does seek to exploit these opportunities. The result can be a shifting, almost chess-like game of tower defense that breaks the traditional boundaries of genre in a creative and interesting manner. The variety of offensive units which move at different speeds and have different offensive and defensive capabilities means that no one, fixed strategy is appropriate, and the shifting map means players will have to adjust their play style on the fly as their opponent changes offensive and defensive strategies, too.

Defense towers pound enemy units attempting to attack the friendly castle.

The interface is driven mostly by hotkey instead of mouse, but once mastered is easy enough to work. Players have access to three different races in the game, and there are 24 towers that are upgradable throughout the game. Multiplayer options will include the ability to host up to four players in a session.

Fans of tower defense games are in for a treat. Defenders of Ardania is about to work its magic on the tower defense genre in a way that will set the standard for new gameplay. Games of static defense can be great fun, but it is an entirely new experience to be able to manipulate the map, surprise and be surprised by an opponent, and unleash offensive actions, too.

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