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Downloadable Game of the Week: 'Defense Grid: The Awakening'

"Defense Grid: The Awakening" For: Xbox 360 Live Arcade From: Hidden Path Entertainment ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (fantasy violence, mild language) Price: $10 The world needs another tower defense game like a turkey needs Thanksgiving, and "Defen...

"Defense Grid: The Awakening"

For: Xbox 360 Live Arcade

From: Hidden Path Entertainment

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (fantasy violence, mild language)

Price: $10

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The world needs another tower defense game like a turkey needs Thanksgiving, and "Defense Grid: The Awakening" does itself no favors with that vanilla title and reasonably pedestrian art direction. But "Awakening" isn't just another also-ran: It circled the block last year as a stellar $20 PC game, and the only thing it loses in its migration to Xbox Live is half its original price. "Awakening" doesn't bend rules or do any fundamental things other tower defense games don't also do. Rather, the not-quite secret to its success lies simply in how carefully and skillfully it does it. There's a balance in the tech the game provides versus the enemies it throws at you, and there's a similar balance in the rhythm of the checkpoint-laden missions, which consistently lift the action to a satisfying zenith without tossing story overboard and carelessly dumping enemies on your head. That story isn't anything special in its own right, but it's serviceable, and the charming sentient computer that aids your defense planning provides the game with personality almost immediately. Like most tower defense games, "Awakening" is a solo-only affair. But for all $10 gets you -- a surprisingly lengthy story mode and more than 100 challenge levels on the side -- the game's value isn't even questionable.

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