In this detailed Review we will provide you with an in-depth look at the new Defenders of Ardania strategy game, which will be released in Q1 of 2012. From this Article you will know more about the Single-player campaign and Multiplayer, while we have not missed important gameplay features and smart AI tricks. So far this title is only available in its light version made for the iPad device, but in the beginning of the next year it will be delivered to PC, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles worldwide.
The wonderful world of Ardania was originally created by Jim DuBois, who designed the very first game of the strategy game series featuring indirect control over your realm. The debut title was named Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim (2000). The sequel was released only in 2009, and now the Swedish publisher, Paradox Interactive, holds all the rights to develop the franchise further, and a good job is done here with helping a popular brand to evolve moving into new directions. For this one a Hungarian team at the Most Wanted Entertainment studio was chosen.
When Most Wanted was planning their new ambitious multiplatform title, Defenders of Ardania, the developers considereded a number of challenges, but had to overcome even more adapting to the strict requirements of the console manufacturers. This was confirmed to us in the following Interview by András Klujber – the Lead Designer of the project. Many difficulties were left behind on the way to making the final product ready for the players.
In our recent Preview of this new Strategy title contributing many innovations to the modern Tower Defense genre as well we told you many things about the available gameplay features. Though at that certain moment we couldn’t taste all the candies, since the Tower Defense gets even more fun, when befriending some RTS elements. Here you will embark on a role to protect your castle, where the Towers are your main defensive measure. Though the borders of this genre were expaned in the game to let you actually storm the enemy’s keep.
In this Defenders of Ardania review written at the times of our intense AI battles we can’t miss the in-game’s Tutorial section, since it is finely crafted to teach you all the basics and some advanced techniques. The main illustrated guide will be waiting for you in the Main Menu, while you helpful advisor will provide advice for each new feature you encouner. The world of Ardania once again goes to war. This time your King will firstly have to pacifiy a revolting nobleman Sir Foxwalde only to uncover a much bigger and deadlier evil plot against your crown.
The old knight Foxwalde has decided to overthrow his monarch, and he will certainly pay for that, but in Ardania ancient evil has always played an important villain pulling the strings and hiding somewhere. While untangling a web of conspiracy you will start your long journery to a far away land in your search for the main cause of your realm’s troubles. On your way there is a chance to visit vital sightseeings including a deserted island with a lighthouse, where not so hospitable Minotaurs are waiting for their new victims.
The developers managed to write a decent Defenders of Ardania story complimenting your adventure through the advisor’s funny monologues and his conversations with found allies. Really soon you will get a brave Dwarf and an old Wizard accompanying you on your quest. On the opposite side many enemies are waiting for you with their forces representing Nature and Underworld races threating you on the course of your voyage to another end of the world, which will take you 18 missions to get there. Your companions are constantly talking and joking, all while explainging your tasks with all the details.
The goals of your challenges usually revolve around bringing down an enemy’s castles, but often you will also be able to comple some sidequests with various terms, requiring you to protect certain characters, buildings or withstand the attacks for specified time. The unforgiving timer will make you hasten your efforts and make decisions to keep up with the pace. There is also an additional DLC tab located in the Main Menu resembling high chances for seeing new missions, maps, races and units in the future updates.
Gameplay in Defenders of Ardania stays true to the Tower Defense genre core values. Each sides gets an own castle able to hold off several attacks. When attacking each other simultaneously, the oppnents must destroy each other’s keep moving alongside tricky paths of local labyrinths. All the Campaign Maps are suitable for the Mulitplayer sessions, though in the Story Mode you have to unlock them one by one. Certainly, it required some additional work to make it possible for human players to take the AI places on the levels without spoiling the fun.
Road to Victory
The maps feature different terrain including open squares, river crossings or even tunnels with some cells that are impassable. The final frontier of the defensive lines can only be occupied by the owner of the closest castle, and the rest spaces are free to occupy, if you have enough resources and some nearby supporting structures. Since you will be designing a maze to make enemies come under fire of your towers, you will not be able to block your keep off completely, because at least one unoccupied square leading to it must remain vacant.
However, blocking the vital connections makes the opponent choose more length roads giving you more time to deteriorate invading armies with the help of your Towers. In total, 24 such defensive structures are included for the three available races: Human, Nature and Underworld. Besides, the eight basic pieces, there is a secret one as well. Here Defenders of Ardania plays with the rules of the genre presenting you a variety of Towers possessing a range of battle roles to deal with specific enemy units faster.
Your first main task, when you start any mission, is to deploy your first line of the defense. Though you don’t have to concentrate on the closest areas, since there are many nice bonuses awaiting you in the center of the map ready to belong to you as soon as you build a Tower on their square. Some of them will bring you additional resources, while others feature different benefits. At the same time no one can stop you from blocking an opponent’s short path with a wall. When playing for the Nature faction you will even have gates in the wall sections to let you and your allies come through these obstacles.
The Towers don’t only rain fire upon the enemies, but also can slow incoming troops or increase money rewards. The latter ones in Defenders of Ardania are very important here, especially, when you begin your match. You will need funds to construct and upgrade things as well as for buying global improvements. With all the unlocks you can make buildings cheaper, enhance attacking abilities and get an access to the new unit types or just increase the rate of the Treasury’s replenishment.
Each faction hires unique units to take a part in the war. These can be walking or flying. The creatures with wings ignore the obstacles, though they don’t use the shortest diagonal road to the target, instead flying along the screen’s border to make their power more balances. Amongst the available unit types you will see Swarmer, Runner, Soldier, Tank, Wizard and Flying regiments. Each one of them has a role it suits the best for. Various individual characterstics include the movement speed, armor value, damage inflicted, which is the amount of health to be taken from an enemy’s keep rezerve, if the attack is successful.
There are extra abilities that some units can use on their way to the target in the Defenders of Ardania game. The Wizards can strike enemy towers, while the Dwarven hammerers attack everything coming their way including the enemy’s units. The Priestesses can heal their own wounds, while flying units drop bombs on opponent’s buildings. Each assault group can include up to 5 and then up to 10 units. However, all the maps have certain restructions on the number of available towers (maximum 10), recruited teams (20-40), the amount of money that the treasury can accumulate, etc.
The more often you specific units, the faster they get the experience for any successful attack. Over time, these soldiers will advance to their new levels improving their skills and unlocking a special Hero’s character for you. WIth strong health, this leader can show some great support to his subordinates. The combination of various heroes in one storming party can become the last deadly blow to the positions of your adversary. If you calculate the attacking times right, then the inflicted damage will bring you victory much faster.
At the same time in Defenders of Ardania you should never forget about your own defense, which still should be your top priority not to lose your match, when you are almost winning, because of a missed sneaky enemy group. You need to strengthen your positions and later on you can sell unneeded towers to shorten the way for your own troops to reach the opponents’ gates, since going around all the corners can bring you the same disadvantages as to your foe.
The Magic can help a lot in Defenders of Ardania
Yes, there is Magic filled with various spells to aid you in battle. For example, you can repair some damage to your castle instantly or strike a lightning bolt at a particular square, but there are other cool spells we will let you uncover on your own and test them out. All the effects of your enhancing casting influences your forces and your allies, so it is a good idea to throw in a spell or two to support your friend’s advance towards an enemy’s base.
The AI in Defenders of Ardania is very agile even without any difficult levels at present. The game gets more challenging over the course of your Campaign. The enemy is skilled in using all the advantages of a current map, it doesn’t waste time and can employ some sophisticated tactics, while maintaining the necessary balance between the types of defensive towers. Even if you manage to destroy one of them or just a few, the AI will build more to cover the breaches.
Your virtual foe will rarely repeat his play offering you new ideas each time you start a match again. This Replayability value comes in a form of the AI changing the places of Towers and the blocked squares, though it still tries to get the bonus cells as soon as possible. When you finish the main Campaign you can battle the AI longer in the Skirmish mode. There you will also meet already familiar allies and adversaries. A safety time was placed to give you some time to plan out your match strategy, while you can’t be attacked by anyone.
The local Skirmish features various sets of rules with Limited Resources and Survival modes, where you have to hold on until you fail with enemy waves becoming more powerful as time goes by. The Multiplayer of Defenders of Ardania lets you connect up to 4 players through the Internet. You can choose your color and race as well as a map and a game mode, where everyone can fight for own side of take a part in a team. Since this game supports Steam, you might get an access to the achievements, besides working for a place in the global Rankings.
As a Host of a match you can set some other options including limiting the match with time, offering new victory conditions: Possible Draw, Score Points, Sudden Death. When making a team, you can pick AI factions as your enemies making Human-Computer fights with challenging opponents. The interface is fairly easy with a few exceptions. Not all the keyboards currently support F1-F4 hot keys designed to turn on additional bars, names and change the game’s speed.
On a desktop PC we were unable to activate all of this with a predefined, while it strangely worked on our editorial Laptops. The contex menus in Defenders of Ardania are very convenient to access all the options and give orders saving valuable seconds, while we couldn’t solve a mystery of completely cleansing the prepared launching army’s queue, even in spite that it was briefly mentioned in the Tutorial, but maybe it wasn’t intuitive enough to guess the proper action. It is important to note that here we are Reviewing a fully playable version, while the game is still in the Development and will be released in the coming months, so there is plenty of time left to enhance some of these points.
The 3D-engine allows you to freely rotate the map and scale it moderately to your own taste. The maps’ edges are beautifully decorated with lively scenery reminding you of the town you used to built in the Majesty (2000-2009) games. In fact, there are really some settlements at present featuring memorable architectural design. The water is flowing, the birds are flying and the abundance of vegation really create an unique visual style for each level. All the races feature their specific designs for buildings and units, many of which were inherited from the original series.
Once again the game’s soundtrack was recorded by a Swedish composer, Andreas Waldetoft, who has been collaborating with Paradox Interactive for a long time providing some great music to many game projects of this publisher. This time in Defenders of Ardania the melodies are filled with the Fantasy charm, while maintaining the known Majesty style, which is not surprising, since it isn’t a first visit to Ardania for this maestro.
Many other sounds were provided by an external company named S&H Entertainment, and the voices do their job with crafting out some characters’ personalities. The court advisor, probably, is the best one here with a VO actor taking his inspiration clearly from the previous games in the line-up. The developers shared a lot of their sense of humor in the dialogues, and it is a cool fact that they actually contributed all the texts to the title.
We liked playing Defenders of Ardania, since it makes you think, before doing anything, just like in the highly popular for ages Chess game. It wasn’t an easy task to integrate Tower Defense and RTS genres with each other, but Most Wanted Entertainment has found a way to do it properly, providing many options to enhance your gameplay. The AI is notably good here too, making you struggle till a complete victory or a sad defeat.
Defenders of Ardania
Defenders of Ardania:
A next-generation Tower Defense game set in the rich fantasy world of Majesty (2000-2009), but with a twist. Besides the addictive core mechanics of placing towers to stop advancing enemy units, Defenders of Ardania also allows players to take on the role of the attackers seeking to conquer the enemy base. Innovative new game concepts include light RTS elements, taking the popular genre to the next level.
Players must oversee unit production and upgrades while assembling the most effective army from one of three playable races, each with unique locations, towers, and units. However, without magic, a fantasy game is little more than a toothless lion (or dragon, rather), so a wide range of spells will be available for players to decimate their enemies and protect their forces.
Although Defenders of Ardania includes a single-player portion, the focus of the game is undoubtedly multiplayer, where two to four players can take each other on or compete against AI opponents via Internet, LAN, or PSN. The multiplayer component offers three different game modes where players can assume either the defensive or offensive sides – or both!
Key Game Features:
- Interactive environment that affects gameplay;
- A wide range of offensive and defensive Spells;
- Defense. 24 different upgradeable towers to erect against the invading enemy;
- Attack. 24 varied units with diverse attributes to assemble into an offensive force;
- Strong Multiplayer. Component with a variety of game modes for up to four players;
- Ardania. The world of Majesty with three playable Races and their unique environments;
- An intriguing new take on the massively popular Tower Defense genre: in Defenders of Ardania players lead both offensive and defensive operations.