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Crystal Defenders Review (XBLA)

Crystal Defenders has been released on a number of consoles now, iPhone, PC, DS, Wii, and now it comes to the Xbox Live Arcade. This release by Square Enix has the gameplay style of a tower defense game but with a Final Fantasy theme slapped onto it. The game comes with three modes, an interesting amount of units to deploy, and a level of challenge that is oddly addicting.

If you’re unfamiliar with tower defense games, you strategically deploy units on a map to take out waves of enemies while collecting currency to upgrade your units or to deploy new ones. Crystal Defenders follows that description completely. You’ll battle on 12 different maps, though really there’s only 6 since every map has an alternative advanced version. The normal maps have only one path while the advanced maps usually have two with less space for your units. If an enemy reaches the end of the path it will take away one of your 20 crystals, and in some cases multiple crystals.

As far as the selection of units go, you’ll have ground units and then some that will attack both ground and air. The units look like they were taken straight out of a Final Fantasy game on the Super Nintendo. They range from a soldier, different types of mages, thief, archer, and many more including crystals you can deploy to increase certain stats of nearby units. If you feel like you’re about to lose, you can scroll up or down in the unit selection menu to choose a summon. The summons were taken from a plethora of Final Fantasy games and will either deal a massive amount of damage to the enemies on-screen or buff your units for that turn.

Graphically it does look a little rough. It looks like this game belongs on a hand-held. Played on a bigger screen it looks pixely and doesn’t seem like it was scaled up very well . There isn’t a whole lot of music to listen to in the game, but what is there fits right in with the game.

The pacing of the game is rather slow. Going from wave 1-30 can soak up some time since you need to decide how you’ll set up for the next wave. Enemies will walk slowly from point A to point B while your units hack away at them. There is a fast-forward button so if you’re confident about you’re current setup for that wave, you can go ahead and zoom through. As soon as I found this button, I didn’t sit through another slow wave again.

It’s weird that Crystal Defenders turned out the way it did. Games with the title of Final Fantasy or games baring a similar theme have an expected level of quality to them. This is not one of them. The challenge is oddly addicting and the theme does have some charm, but if you’ve played one level you’ve pretty much seen the whole game. The twelve levels look remarkably similar and there isn’t much enemy variety. The only thing you can do is place units on a map, upgrade them for more attack power and reach, then hope for the best. While the game can be fun, there is little to no reward for any of it.

Crystal Defenders is available on the Xbox Live Marketplace for 800 Microsoft points ($10).

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April 6, 2009 - Posted by | Review

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