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August 5, 2009
Crystal Defenders - PS3 Review
Release Distributor Publisher Developer Offline Players Online Players
23/7/2009UbisoftUbisoftSquare-Enix1None
Media HDD Space Resolution Sound Format Tilt Controls OFLC Rating
Network52MB720pDD5.1NoG

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Crystal Defenders on the XBox 360...
As Playstation Store releases become more frequent (there is typically at least one game each week at the moment) the quality and value for money seems to be going up as well. With that said it didn't take much time for us to decide to pick up this tower defense game (one of our favourite genres) from Square-Enix (one of the worlds best developers. For $15.95 how could it not be great value?

Crystal Defenders was originally release as Crystal Guardians for mobile phone platforms where it generate much interest and plenty of acclaim as a standout title. This Playstation 3 version sees the developers upgrade the graphics and some small aspects, but for the most part remains the same game.

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...but the PS3 game looks identical.
There isn't really much story here. The game takes place after events in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, and the basic goal is to place defensive soldiers to stop waves of incoming enemy soldiers. Should some get through they will destroy the 20 crystals. Most enemies only destroy a single crystal for each enemy (which have been taken from Final Fantasy Tactics) that gets through, but some will destroy multiple. Should all 20 crystals be destroyed it's game over.

The game allows you to purchase new combatants using money (or Gil as it's called in the Final Fantasy universe) earned from killing enemies, or interest from cash in the bank. These friendly soldiers fall into categories such as those good at attacking enemy ground units, those that can attack air units, or units that slow down enemies, or increase the Gil earned from killing them. Friendly soldiers start out fairly weak (Level 1) but can be upgraded for a fee to increase their range, or their attacking power.

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Checking out the archer in Crystal Defenders.
So what about the problems with this game? Well there isn't a lot to do. Three worlds (W1, W2 & W3), with four levels in each however two of those levels are just advanced versions of the basic ones. Each level sees 30 waves of enemies, but when you speed the game up each level can be completed in under 30 minutes - well under - making this quite disappointing value. This is especially true as the mobile phone version of the game (reportedly, as we don't have it ourselves) contains hundreds of levels although the PS3 version will generate random levels (we think this was unlocked after completing the majority of the game) however there are no leaderboards for these random levels.

Sadly there is no option for multi-player gameplay either - online or offline - (although to be fair it's hard to see how it could have been implemented) and the online leader boards are pretty basic as well. Oh, there's also a mode called DevPlay which I though could be more levels, alas you get to watch the developers play through them instead. Why bother with it? All-in-all, this game simply doesn't stack up in value or quality when sitting beside - both vastly superior to this game.

One of the most disappointing aspects of this game is certainly the visuals. While upgraded from the mobile phone versions there really isn't anything to get excited about, in fact this is one of the poorest looking PS3 titles to date with friendly units "sitting on top" of one another making it hard to figure out what soldier is where. There is little detail in the sprites, no cut-scenes and rather generic looking menus and interface.

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Waves of enemies in Crystal Defenders.
Audio in this game is pretty average overall. There is some nice orchestral music in places, but the majority of the game is pretty average effects during the battles. There's no speech, and little (if any) use of surround sound channels.

Ultimately I think Crystal Defenders is a bit of a misfire from Square-Enix. While this is a cheap-ish game at only $AU15.95, and that would be fine if there was actually more here. There are 6 levels, with a standard and advanced level of difficulty on each. The game is pretty tough, but it's not overly pretty, and sounds dull. In our books it's not worth the price - opt for the vastly superior PixelJunk Monsters or Savage Moon instead.

Review By: Dave Warner

Order your copy through the PS3's Playstation Store.
GRAPHICSPretty plain with little razzle dazzle, or even just razzle.
52%
SOUNDThe orchestral music is nice, basic effects in-game.
60%
GAMEPLAYIt's a tower defense styled game, but not great. Still, it's somewhat addictive.
65%
VALUE$15.95 for six levels, and alternate versions. Not good value at all.
38%
OVERALLCrystal Defenders is an average tower defense game with poor visuals and average audio and lack of value. We suggest you give this a miss..
49%

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