Resogun Defenders Review

The gift that keeps on giving.

Housemarque's voxel-packed side-scrolling shooter Resogun is easy to love for it's stimulating visuals and soundtrack, but once your newfound fascination with voxels and dance music finally cools, it's the challenge to survive and the call of the high score that draws you back. This tradition is upheld in the new Defenders DLC, which contains two new modes: Protector and Commando. Protector mode is a more punishing and exciting variation of the standard game--you earn powerful upgrades at a rapid pace but typically die in one hit--while the Commando mode has you defend the last house on the planet as either Arnold Schwarzenegger or an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator, sans spaceship.

OK. It's obviously not Arnold Schwarzenegger, but while defending humanity's last home from incoming enemy spacecraft and environmental hazards, you do randomly spout some famous lines in his voice. It's a fun touch, but don't let the comedic side of Protector get in the way of what's most important: defending that house. You run along the ground, firing into the sky as enemies nosedive into frame. Although the house you're defending can withstand some damage, similar to structures in the classic game Missile Command, all it takes is one hit for you to die in Commando mode, and there are no continues. You do have a few of the same abilities as your spaceship, including bombs and speed boosts, and you can jump, which is useful when ground-based enemies eventually appear. Because you can fire in more than two directions with the right analog stick, Commando mode feels like it has more in common with twin-stick shooters than it does with Resogun.

Blasting through increasingly difficult waves of enemies in Commando mode is challenging and the Schwarzenegger impersonations are humorous, but fighting on foot isn't as thrilling as zipping around in a ship. You don't move particularly fast, and your gun is underpowered for what feels like too long relative to how fast the number of targets increases on screen. This new style of gameplay is intriguing because it's different, but it lacks the sense of speed and excitement that's typical of Resogun. That's not to imply that it's bad or even not fun--you still experience the wonder of voxels and the drive to earn higher and higher scores, and likely a bit of laughter--but Commando mode just doesn't compare to the rest of Resogun.

If you're looking for something more fast-paced and exciting, focus on Protector mode. It plays very similar to Resogun proper, where you zoom around a ring-shaped level, shooting down enemy ships and rescuing vulnerable humans on the ground, but you earn weapons and armor upgrades at a much faster rate than usual. The trade-off is that enemy swarms grow equally fast and you don't start with any extra lives; the only second chances you get are in the form of expendable shields that occasionally come as bonuses for saving humans.

Piloting a fully-upgraded ship is a treat rarely afforded in other modes, where extended boosts and more destructive overdrive cannons are reserved for the best players, so Protector mode is a great way to experience a side of the game that may have been out of reach before. It's oh-so-sweet to have a massively upgraded ship, and because the difficulty also scales fast, you still feel like you're being challenged, even with all of the added firepower.

If Resogun has already run its course in your mind, there's nothing in Defenders that's going to lure you back in for the long haul. Of course, it's hard to imagine how someone could ever get enough Resogun, being that it's one of the best arcade-game experiences in years. In that sense, Defenders is a worthy addition to an already great game that will no doubt please anyone with a fondness for fighting within an inch of their life while also blowing up everything in sight into tiny, beautiful pieces.

The Good

  • Frantic and beautiful action keeps you entranced
  • Protector mode manages to be both empowering and satisfyingly difficult

The Bad

  • Commando can't compete with the rest of Resogun

About the Author

Peter played through both Protector mode and Commando mode for as long as his thumbs and eyes could handle, and still went back in from one more attempt at a high score.