|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Square Enix||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Square Enix||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 11, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Another problem with the battlefield is that there are no obstacles or environmental elements to help shape the gameplay. One great facet of Final Fantasy Tactics A2 was that battle stages were shaped by hills, valleys, and water bodies that could influence character placement and overall tactics. However, in Crystal Defenders, all of the maps are completely flat and there is no real incentive to keep characters in one area as opposed to another. Range is never changed by the environment, and the flat battle stages make the game feel bland.
In addition to the disappointing facets of the gameplay, another big problem with Crystal Defenders is the visuals. Although I recognize this game does have its roots in the mobile market, the cell phone look could have really been improved for the console release. As I stated before, the game only uses about 2/3 of the screen to display the board, and the rest of the screen is occupied by a wallpaper-like background along with sprites of your current troops and upcoming monsters. The different play boards are far too simplistic and feature no moving or animated elements. Even the color scheme is a little on the bland side, and I really wish that more time had been spent bringing this title's visuals up to console standards.
However, despite the visuals being on the lackluster side, the sound in Crystal Defenders is great. Of course, this is probably due to the fact that the vast majority of it is sampled from other Final Fantasy games, which are known for their orchestral score. Still, the background music is nice to listen to, and there is a fairly wide selection of tunes. This is especially nice, as all too often downloadable titles suffer from having only one or two repetitive melodies that wear on the ears quickly. Sound effects in this title are limited to attack and action noises, which is also a good thing, as the effects never overpower the nice background music.
Although I personally enjoyed Crystal Defenders, this title isn't for everyone. The tactics are fairly simple (especially considering their source material) and the small scope of the game will turn off many who expect more depth from their tower defense titles. The game also looks too much like a mobile title for a console port, and it just doesn't really stand up as its own tactics title. Although Square Enix opted to drop the Final Fantasy Tactics title for this game, I really think that was a mistake, as fans of Final Fantasy Tactics will probably be the only people who will find real enjoyment out of Crystal Defenders. This game can be fun when played in the context of the Final Fantasy universe, but those hoping for a deep or unique tactics experience may want to look elsewhere.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor