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Defender Package Art
  7 Studios


Midway’s back and doing it again! After the success of SpyHunter, a remake of their classic arcade game, Midway brings us Defender. While the title doesn’t do as good of a job at re-creating the classic feel of the arcade game (as they did with SpyHunter), Defender does a great job at holding its own. Based on the classic arcade title, the game has you in the seat of an aircraft known as a (surprise) Defender. To progress through the mission-based gameplay, you must ward off the Manti invasion to defend the human colonists. Defender offers up a lot of great arcade gameplay but just like SpyHunter, the game is not without its share of problems.


The overall look of this title is very good. Your ship is amazingly detailed, but it really doesn’t animate that well. Most of the time—especially at the start of each level—you may think you’re flying a painting rather than a ship. The Manti’s designs were taken from the original and have been given a much more vibrant look to them. They’re very easy to spot since they glow a bright green out in the distance and easy to differentiate from the human colonists, who glow a bright blue. This keeps you from wandering the entire map looking for little tiny humans to pick up. You’ll pretty much know where you should be going throughout the course of each mission.

Defender really shines in its CG cut-scenes, which look like they’ve been taken out of a very high quality Sci-Fi television show like FarScape or Babylon 5. You can definitely tell where they pooled all of their resources on this title. The motion capturing is excellent and keeps the animation alive. Very cool, indeed.


The coolest part about Defender is the nostalgia that brings back memories of playing the original arcade title. The only thing that does this, however, is the sound effects. The default blasters on the ships sound straight out of the arcade, only a bit juicier. Whenever you pick up a colonist or a Manti abducts a human, it brings back memories to hear each sound effect. Aside from that, the other sounds in the game are bland and don’t really spark your ear that much.

Music was a big part of SpyHunter, and hearing the classic Peter Gunn theme in a modern tone was extremely awesome and probably one of the better parts of playing the title. However, since Defender didn’t really have as memorable a theme, the music’s been made from scratch. Sure enough, they’ve seemed to do it again, because the music is really astounding and much better than I had originally hoped. It matches the classic space opera theme nicely and really gets you ready to defend your race.


As previously stated, your role in Defender is to defend the human colonists from the Manti invasion. Your job is to destroy the invading Manti before they abduct colonists and consume them, creating an even more powerful opponent for you to defeat. The overall difficulty of the game all depends on how well you defend the colonists. Most of the gameplay is strictly based on strategic defense rather than shoot-em-up offense, so it may not be for everyone. The play mechanics work fairly well at keeping the game apart from other space sims, but it doesn’t feel as familiar as the original arcade title. Whether this is a good or bad thing is strictly up to the player. If you were a big fan of the original, don’t expect as much of a thrill here, but if you’ve played it once or twice and enjoyed it, you may enjoy this one even more.

The controls are easy enough to learn, and the feel of the ship is very arcade-like. While maneuvering the ship, you can really feel that it's solid while still not sticking to a “realistic” feel. This makes the game feel less of a chore than it is, but it is odd to have your ship not explode when plummeting towards the ground at 400 miles an hour. Your ship will most likely bounce and upright itself in order to get back on course. While it keeps the game from becoming a bit less frustrating, it’s likely to bring a chuckle. The camera never really gets in the way due to the behind-the-ship perspective.


There are two modes available for multiplayer, both of which only feature two players. The first is a co-operative mode in which you and a friend help each other through the game’s mission-based levels. This can be a lot more fun than the single-player mode, obviously, and the frame rate doesn’t drop. Defender also features a deathmatch mode, which isn’t as engrossing as some of the other competitive multiplayer games available, but still adds some longevity to the title.


Like SpyHunter before it, Defender does a decent job at re-creating the classic Midway arcade title. Unlike SpyHunter, however, Defender does a much better job at keeping itself apart from the original with an engrossing space opera storyline, an excellent soundtrack, and a great multiplayer experience. Fans of science fiction-based games will love this title, as will fans of space sims. However, if you’re looking for something a lot more action-oriented, you may want to look elsewhere. Defender is all about defense, which may be a major turn-off for many gamers out there. If you’re skeptical, give this one a rental before slapping the cash on the counter.

final score 7.3/10

Staff Avatar Austin Starr
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"If life's not beautiful without the pain / well I'd just rather never ever even see beauty again"

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