Defense Grid 2

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Defense Grid 2 Game Poster Image
Terrific strategic tower defense game has mild violence.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about strategy and cooperation in this deep and polished tower defense game. Players begin by learning the capabilities of towers and enemy units, then apply what they've learned while developing tactical plans. They also must look ahead, balancing current needs with what they'll require a few minutes from now when different types of aliens arrive. If kids play cooperative multiplayer, they'll also need to learn to coordinate with another player online to deploy effective defenses. Defense Grid 2 employs important strategic concepts that could get kids thinking about planning and tactics in their day-to-day lives.

Positive Messages

Encourages strategic thinking and pushes players to test their limits by trying different modes and gradually increasing the level of difficulty. Some multiplayer modes require players to work cooperatively.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The player's character is silent and unseen. The main characters that players get to know include a small group of human-like artificial intelligences that provide counsel before, during, and after missions. They're strange and erratic at times, but they generally seem to want to help.

Ease of Play

Multiple levels of difficulty ensure that players of various skill and experience levels won't run into too much frustration. The required strategy may be a bit daunting for tower defense rookies, but a tutorial explains the basics, and AI characters provide advice throughout the campaign. All levels are unlocked from the start, so players can bypass any that may be too difficult.


Players set up defensive towers -- laser turrets, gun nests, missiles, and more -- that attack tiny aliens and robots slowly making their way through winding paths. Aliens explode, collapse, and disappear when defeated. 


Expect the occasional bit of light profanity, such as "hell" or "damn." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Defense Grid 2 is a downloadable strategic tower defense game with mild sci-fi violence directed toward aliens and robots. Players build towers with guns and missiles that automatically shoot enemies as they pass by. Each level requires players to develop and deploy their own strategies, determining which towers to use and where to place them. Success demands forethought and experimentation but can still be achieved without too much grief on the game's easiest difficulty setting. Light profanity, such as "hell," is heard infrequently in spoken dialogue. The game can be played online with strangers, although there's no support for voice or text communication.

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What's it about?

Players jump into the role of a veteran commander in DEFENSE GRID 2, a tower defense game with a sci-fi theme set in the far future. Assisted by a group of artificial intelligences that provide tutorials, counsel, and strategy, the commander discovers alien activity on every planet he visits, and it's your job to help him eradicate the threats. Missions are set in complex, three-dimensional environments. Some have set paths through which aliens swarm, forcing players to build defensive towers in specific locations. Others are much more open, allowing players to guide the aliens' routes by creating corridors of towers. There are 10 towers to choose from, each with its own range, ammunition, and damage statistics. Additional strategizing comes in the form of boost towers -- pedestals that can be built on foundations prior to the building of a defensive tower -- which augment turrets by increasing damage or de-cloaking enemies. Outside the campaign, a multiplayer mode with three game types allows pairs of players either to face off or cooperate with each other to defeat the swarms.  

Is it any good?

With terrific depth, impressive longevity, and richness of play, Defense Grid 2 occupies the top tier of the tower defense genre. It eschews the genre's standard two-dimensional, cartoonish presentation and offers lush, detailed 3-D environments that do a terrific job of establishing the sci-fi setting. Terrific voice work throughout each mission provides a sense of purpose for the player's activities. The defensive action is well-balanced and demanding of strategy without being unfair or overwhelming.

Veteran strategists will have their hands full on the game's hardest settings, but rookies will be able to advance without too much frustration playing on easier difficulties. What's more, each of the 20 story levels has half a dozen or more variations that impose building limitations or confer various benefits, creating terrific replay value. The multiplayer modes, meanwhile, add a layer of competitiveness (or cooperation) on top of the wonderfully designed tactical action. If your family plays only one tower defense game, Defense Grid 2 deserves to be a top contender.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the tactics found in Defense Grid 2. We tend to think of strategy as the purview of military commanders, but all of us strategize to one degree or another every day. What sorts of strategies do you use on a day-to-day basis?

  • Discuss online safety. What are some of the risks involved in communicating with potential strangers online while playing games? Have you ever encountered an online bully?

  • Talk about violence in games such as Defense Grid 2. Is the violence against aliens and robots OK because they're not human, or is it hard to justify violence in any game regardless of the enemy?

Game details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love tactics

Themes & Topics

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