Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia iPad Review

Few iPhone and iPad games offer more bang for the buck than Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia, the sequel to the 2009 cult hit. Depending on how much time you're willing to invest, that $2.99 can stretch to well over a hundred hours of monster-smashing and item hunting. You can even fall asleep and have the game play itself. Whether or not this is a good thing is up for debate.

By and large, Gimka Entertainment stuck with what made the original so addictive, that being vertical tower defense with 10 boards so large, you must drag fingers around the screen to see everything. This proves critical to success, as waves of progressively difficult monsters (be it the Orc hordes, supernatural Forsaken or the Covenant cult) appear from different locations and in large numbers.

That said, this is the type of game where one decision proves critical, forcing you to think strategically before placing one of 24 upgradeable units. For instance, there's no point putting arrow-shooting lizard men near the enemy's entrance point, since all those werewolves and goblins will overwhelm and quickly move past those scaly warriors. Conversely, Squires (knights with heavy-looking broadswords) do an excellent job handling bulk, so it's usually a good idea to group a bunch of those dudes together to do the dirty work. As for those lizard men, use them where they can be most affective, largely against winged creatures in need of some arrows to their blackened hearts.

That's essentially the gist of how stages play out, with the inclusion of one hero (of four) capable of laying the smack down on all manner of nastiness threatening the war-torn world of Athelia. What's great about these guys and gals are their six unique skills and eight abilities that make replaying the same old boards a somewhat different experience, particularly if you use tokens acquired in battle to outfit these characters with new weapons and armor.

While on the subject of tokens, prepare for much grinding to afford the best gear. They're rather hard to come by, even on the simplest of five difficulties. Of course, that largely depends on how long you can last in a single round, and if you grow increasingly desperate, there's always in-app purchases to buy more.

That aside, the primary issue we have with Defender Chronicles II (it's minor) involves the whole "set it and forget it" style of play, where so long as you made the correct moves over a period of several waves, you can basically set the game down and those units will take care of business. You may need to do just that, as watching the action unfold through more than 50 waves can be a bit tiring.

Then again, with 96 achievements, leaderboards, comic book storyboards and customizable game modes, there's still plenty to love about Defender Chronicles II, making it one of the beefiest tower defense games on the App Store. If you have lots of time to kill, this is three bucks well spent.

Review code provided by Gimka Entertainment

Download Defender Chronicles II: Heroes of Athelia (iOS)

What's Hot: Vertical tower defense puts a cool spin on the genre, 24 units to command, four different heroes, over 50 enemies, 10 attractive levels, a whole mess of loot, 96 achievements, leaderboards, five difficulties, assorted modes.

What's Not: Game can basically play itself, prepare for a ton of grinding, quite repetitive because of so many monster waves.