Midway's upcoming update of its arcade classic Defender has come a long way since it was first shown off at its Gamer's Day
The game is set in the years following the events in the original game. Humanity has continued its exploration of the stars, in spite of the obvious threats, and has managed to do all right for itself. Unfortunately, humankind's fortunes take a turn for the worse when alien hordes return and start causing their special brand of genocidal mayhem. However, humankind is well equipped to fight back with new craft and weapons.
You'll take the role of a pilot fighting against the aliens. It's a tall order, especially when you find that you're walking into the job without some backup. You'll be able to choose one of three ships to pilot, each with its own unique handling and weapons characteristics. Controlling the craft is straightforward enough, thanks to the command layout on the PlayStation 2 pad. The shoulder buttons share movement duty along with the left analog stick. The top shoulder buttons handle strafing, while the lower ones will move you forward and backward. The D-pad cycles your ship's targeting and lets you single out everything from a colonist to a vehicle. The PlayStation 2's face buttons will be mapped to fire your weapon, switch weapons, use your craft's special weapon, and identify targets. The default setup works well, although you'll be able to use a variety of different configurations if it doesn't suit your needs.
The gameplay has been expanded from the original game's premise of shooting anything that moves and rescuing people. You'll now have objectives to complete along with the usual duties of protecting humans captured by aliens. While your ship is armed to the teeth and is quite capable on its own, in some levels mobile artillery units will provide a little bit of extra help. This addition gives the game some depth by giving you some options when tackling a level. As you go through the game you'll also earn credits that you can use to upgrade your craft.
Graphically the game looks very good. The ships you'll fly are nicely detailed and feature moving parts that animate well. The texture work is well done and gives the craft personality by giving them a weathered look. The environments are large and detailed with solid use of lighting and fog that give the levels atmosphere. The special effects for the various weapons are well done, and the use of classic sound effects is a nice touch.
From what we've played so far, Defender is shaping up pretty well. The gameplay is engaging, and the visuals are sharp. The game is currently slated to ship for the PlayStation 2 later this month with Xbox and GameCube versions to follow in November.