A Game of Heroes
In a fantasy world, a group of stalwart heroes unite to protect the realm and quest for fortune and glory. Such is the premise of Ace Defender: War of Dragon Slayer by Ace Games. The developer calls it a strategy RPG, but tactical RPG is a more accurate description. You’ll collect hero cards, build an adventuring party and send them out to battle monsters. However, Ace Defender is also a tower defense game, and it even features components of the idle genre as well. Sporting lush, professional-looking artwork, Ace Defender offers a visually impressive world to explore.
Attack and Defend
Ace Defender offers two main play modes: tower defense and tactical combat. In the former, you select heroes from your roster to defend against incoming waves of monsters. The battleground is a maze. You start with one defender but will quickly gain the opportunity to place more as you kill opponents. Your heroes attack automatically, but they each also have a special attack that you control. It’s fun raining down lightning bolts, tossing bombs or smiting your foes with a giant axe. These powers all have a cooldown period, so you can’t spam them. This adds to the excitement because it can be nerve-wracking waiting for your heroes to recharge while your enemies move ever closer to their destination.
In contrast, the tactical combat side of the game isn’t nearly as much fun. You’ll select six heroes, who will go head to head against a group of monsters. Unlike the tower defense portion of Ace Defender, you have no control over how these battles play out. Instead, you ‘re reduced to the role of spectator. The battles aren’t all that interesting to watch. What’s more, while there is music, there are no sound effects. This makes the action even less immersive. Unfortunately, tactical combat makes up the lion’s share of the game, and it gets boring pretty quickly.
Heroes of the Realm
The RPG side of Ace Defender comes in the form of the heroes, each of whom is represented by a card with fantastic Blizzard-style artwork. The heroes are your standard fantasy fare: elves, dwarves, goblins, centaurs and so on. You can beef up your heroes by equipping them with up to four pieces of gear. However, the main way to improve them is to level them up. You do this by spending gold and experience, which you acquire by playing the game. In theory, the tactical element of the game lies in which heroes you select to fight your battles. In practice, I couldn’t tell that there was much of a difference, although some heroes did seem to be stronger than others.
A World of Adventure
Ace Defender offers a variety of game formats to choose from. The main one is Expedition, which involves your heroes moving along a track and engaging in battles at every stop. These are mainly tactical battles, although there is some tower defense mixed in. The farther you get along the Expedition track, the more of the game you unlock.
The two other major areas of the game are the Sky City and the Continent. The Sky City is where you do things like obtain new heroes and gear or join a guild. The Continent holds different game modes to explore. The Dawn Shield lets you play tower defense to earn rewards, while the Tower of Trials has you ascend a tower and fight increasingly tough monsters on each floor. One of the more intriguing formats is The Rift dungeon, which approximates a classic dungeon crawl. You move through a maze, battling monsters, unlocking doors and looting treasure chests.
Ace Defender also offers various side attractions. You can earn rewards by doing quests, such as leveling up your heroes and completing expeditions. In addition, there’s an idle aspect to the game that grants rewards just for logging in. Ultimately though, no matter which format you play, it all comes down to either tactical combat or tower defense. There really just isn’t much depth to the game. You’ll end up doing the same things over and over, and that just isn’t all that much fun.
Is It Hardcore?
Ace Defender: War of Dragon Slayer looks great, and fans of tower defense may find that part of the game challenging, but the tactical combat is boring and repetitious.