Defense Grid: You Monster: Tower defense, for science

December 7, 2011

I’m not going to lie to you. Defense Grid is one of my favorite XBLA games ever released. I like it enough that I bought it, along with all of the available DLC, on Steam after beating in on 360. It is the best tower defense game that I have ever played, the narration is wonderful, there is a great variety in the types and useful applications of towers, and levels switch between the two TD standards of “here is your path, defend it” and “here is your playfield, make a path.” Defense Grid is my typical go-to game when I know I want to play something but can’t decide what that something is. And then it’s 2:00 in the morning because I got caught up in it all over again.

All that being said, it should not surprise you that I love the You Monster DLC pack. Being a big fan of Valve’s Portal series adds to the expansion quite a bit as instead of battling against the unending alien hordes you are battling against GLaDOS who happens to control very similar alien hordes. The levels are all themed to look like test chambers, and both GLaDOS’s and your AI companion’s voice actors return to add all new dialog to the scenarios.

New maps have, historically, been enough to sustain me. That is what all four pieces of the Resurgence DLC were, and I picked those all up and enjoyed them as soon as they were available. You Monster is different though. There is a whole new story woven through the eight new levels, and instead of just fighting off the aliens and creating paths, GLaDOS spices things up by restricting what types of towers can be built.

In one level she will simply take away every tower you’ve built of a predetermined type at the 1/3 and 2/3 marks. In another you are constrained by only ever being able to build a tower type one time. These changes are not simple reskins of previous challenge ideas, and they force players to come up with new strategies. It is no longer enough to spam temporal and gun towers – because GLaDOS is on to you and she will take away those crutches forcing you to become a better player by he end of her campaign.

Some of the levels are recycled from the PC-only “Potato Sack” update that tied in with the release of Portal 2 so PC players will likely recognize some of the levels being presented in this DLC. That’s okay though – they are some of the most interesting levels available in the game. I am excited to see Hidden Path continue to support and create new content for Defense Grid. It is uncommon for an XBLA title to get this kind of support, and I hope it works out for them because what they’re putting out is great.

Pros: Interesting to see Defense Grid and Portal collide, tower restrictions provide a great twist on the classic tower defense gameplay
Cons: Some levels are recycled from a free update that was exclusive to the PC version

Score: 5/5

Questions? Check out our review guide.