You're still blasting aliens and saving humans, but that's about all this remake has in common with the classic arcade shooter. The added emphasis on strategy challenges you (and a friend in two-player co-op) to position tanks and ground forces to defend bases, plus you can upgrade your ship with better shields, weapons and other goodies between missions.
It seems that classic arcade gamers have reason to celebrate lately. We have seen a rush of classic arcade titles, polished and revamped for the current generation of consoles. The latest reincarnation to take place is Defender. The classic Defender was a 2D side scroller that allowed you freedom of movement as your roamed back and forth over the surface of the planet. Your goal was simple, defend the colonists against the invading aliens that sought to abduct them. If you didn't rescue them in time, the aliens would mutate with the colonists creating an even more powerful enemy. I believe that Defender was the game that invented the smart bomb. All in all, the game was very cool. How could they make this classic game even better?
The new Defender has everything that you remember about the original but now they have put you inside of the ship and rendered everything in full 3D, although the view is from a third party chase camera stationed behind the ship. The first thing that I noticed beside the sweet graphics was that many of the sounds in the game are overhauled versions of the original sounds found in the classic game. The plot is similar to the original in that your goal is to take out the invading aliens and defend the colonists from abduction, but this time, you have over 20 missions (each with its own objectives) that span the entire solar system. The game play is pretty decent and the mobility of the ships is nice, allowing you to perform classic dog-fight maneuvers like barrel rolls, 360 loops and spinning reversals designed to evade enemies.
There are many things to like about this game including the general ease of playing the game. You don't need to read the entire manual to start flying and shooting down enemies. The game also introduces tanks and ground units that you can pick up and place strategically around your bases. Another great feature is the ability to earn points based on your performance that you can use to upgrade your ship with over 30 advanced weapons including: salvo missile launcher; fireball launcher and gas launcher. Perhaps the nicest feature is the addition of multiplayer co-op mode, allowing you and a friend to work together to complete levels. If you can't get along with your friend, there's always competitive mode, where you can take each other on.
Overall, the only negative thing that I can say about this game is that it should have been longer. Even though the levels are fairly short, the fact that each of the levels has potentially different objectives required to complete, keeps the game somewhat challenging. Once you complete the campaign mode, there's always multiplayer mode to keep the game interesting for a bit. Due to it's shortness in length I can't give it a recommended buy for everyone, but it definitely is a must see for lovers of the original Defender and definitely worth a rental to check it out for everyone else.