Video Game: Defense Grid: The Awakening

Developed by Hidden Path Entertainment and released for the PC in December 2008 (and Xbox LIVE Arcade in September 2009), Defense Grid: The Awakening is a Tower Defense game that's been hailed as one of the best in the genre.

Over a thousand years ago, an Alien Invasion on your planet was beaten back. Now, the aliens are invading again, and your world is in peril. They've besieged your city, cutting you off from your home. In the nearby ruins of an old military base, you find a dusty terminal and reawaken an ancient Artificial Intelligence—who, in reality, is the very general of the previous war! After the war his brain was uploaded into the planetary defense grid, in case the aliens ever returned.

With the help of the General, you've jumped into the command chair to re-awaken the grid and Save The World.

Hidden Path gave the sequel Defense Grid 2 the Kickstarter treatment. Though they didn't get enough money to fund it, the project was funded by Ascended Fanboy Steven Dengler, who also helped co-produce various Double Fine projects. It was finally released on September 2014.

Defense Grid provides examples of:
  • Airborne Mook: Darts and Mantas. Both of which do not take the usual route which the other mooks do, and instead travel another fixed path and if they manage to steal one of the cores, they're considered to be lost immediately and can't be recovered even if you manage to shoot them down before they escape.
  • Alternate Reality Game: Is one of the 13 indie games that form the bulk of the material of Valve's "PotatoFoolsDay" Portal 2 ARG.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The end of the Containment campaign, presumably to set up a Sequel Hook for Defense Grid 2.
  • Anti-Air: Missile towers can only attack air units, but they do a very good job at it and have a large radius.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Steve Dengler, see above.
  • Big Good: General Fletcher.
  • Boring but Practical: Once they're fully upgraded, Gun Towers are one of the best damage-dealing towers available. They're also the cheapest tower to buy and upgrade, and they're effective against nearly everything, working against both flying and ground enemies and rapidly destroying shields.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Gun towers are explicitly stated to have infinite ammo, yet the last step of their unfolding animation when you build or upgrade one involves audibly reloading their guns.
  • Brain Uploading: General Fletcher, who stopped the previous invasion is now the AI running the defense grid. He often talks about things he would do if he was still in his body. Mostly eating raspberries.
    • The Containment campaign introduces Cai, in control of a different planet's defense grid.
  • Canon Immigrant: Guess who stars in the expansion Defense Grid: You Monster? Hint: Not Chell.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Spending over a thousand years uploaded inside a defense computer network has left the General a little... odd, but he realizes how he's acting and resolves to stay focused on repelling the invasion.
  • Crossover: The You Monster expansion crosses over with the Portal series.
  • Death from Above: The Meteor tower; incredible range and deals area-of-effect damage.
  • Deflector Shields: The Bulwark uses these to protect itself. The Spire's can protect other aliens. The already unfair Crasher is given these to make The Juggernaut. Inferno and Laser towers can barely scratch them, while Tesla towers are Super Effective.
  • Do Well, but Not Perfect: If you are having problems getting a gold medal, sometimes it's better to go easy on the final enemies and let them live live a little longer with a softer defense while the interests rack up your resources towards the gold score.
  • Downloadable Content: In the form of map packs. The Resurgence series is four packs of two maps each, Containment is a short campaign of eight maps, and You Monster is a crossover with Portal.
  • Dungeon Bypass: Later levels have you build The Maze yourself using towers. Flying enemies go right over it, and instantly leave the map when they reach your power cores.
  • Elite Mook: The description for the Rhino states that it is the basic elite unit of the alien army.
  • Excuse Plot: A well-done example of one. It's a rare thing to see a Tower Defense game with Character Development.
  • Expansion Pack:
    • Borderlands; four extra levels included as free DLC.
    • Resurgence; four smaller DLCs with two new levels apiece.
    • You Monster; a Portal-themed campaign.
    • Containment; an eight-level campaign funded by the Defense Grid 2 Kickstarter, and some community-made levels included for no extra cost.
  • Exposition Fairy: The General himself.
  • Fragile Speedster: Racers can only take about as much damage as a regular walker, but they are a lot faster.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams: Laser towers, which are good against the two fast enemies, the Racer and the Rumbler, both because the said enemies keep taking damage from being set on fire by the laser after they're out of their range and because lasers don't have to waste any time pivoting to aim at an enemy when it enters its range.
  • Gatling Good: The level 2 gun tower swaps out the chain gun with a tri-barreled gatling gun. The level 3 gun tower adds a second one.
  • The Goomba: Training drones in the first stage are very weak and can only carry one core. That's the only time you will fight them, though.
  • Kill It with Fire: Inferno and Meteor towers are strong against Swarmers.
  • Kill Sat: The orbital laser obliterates anything, but is slow to charge and enemies killed by it give no metal to build and upgrade towers with.
  • Lightning Gun / Shock and Awe: The Tesla tower. Its attack is stronger if given time to charge up, and it can chain enemies.
  • Meaningful Name: Almost all the Mooks.
    • Swarmers always appear in swarms, unless they're periodically released from a Seeker.
    • Rhinos are heavily armoured and can take more damage, similar to how the real life rhinoceros has a thick armour.
    • Racers are very fast enemies.
    • Darts have a dart-like appearance, and they can fly like one too.
    • Mantas looks kind of like manta rays, and also fly through the air in the same fashion the manta ray glides underwater.
    • A bulwark is a protection against external attacks. Bulwarks have Deflector Shields that protects them from damage.
    • A spire in real life is a pointed structure. Spires in this game are shielded aliens that have a pointed head.
    • Lurkers have the ability of stealth protection and can "lurk" away from your towers.
    • Decoys give stealth to units around it but do not have stealth themselves. Thus, they act as a decoy and attract attacks from your towers towards it, instead of the enemies it gives stealth to.
    • Turtles have heavily armored shells, like a real life turtle.
    • The Crasher tends to inexorably crash its way straight through whatever you throw at it, while its shielded counterpart The Juggernaut is, well, nigh unstoppable unless you have strong weapons.
  • Marathon Level: The Grinder and Super Grinder challenges pit you against 99 waves. And yes, you still must finish to obtain medals. The score requirements are quite low in proportion (ideally, you'll hit at least one million on these sorts of challenges out of the 100,000-200,000 needed for gold), but if you so much as lose a single core, there goes about an entire hour of your efforts.
  • The Maze: Making them with towers is necessary to slow down alien progress long enough to keep them continously exposed to your attacks. The DLC map Height of Confusion is nothing but one big grid of tower slots, requiring you to structure the level yourself.
  • Memory Gambit: Fletcher deliberately omitted certain memories when he was uploaded, to ensure the aliens wouldn't find out about them— namely, the existence of other human colony worlds and the portal that led to one of them.
  • Meta Power-Up: Command Towers are these—they don't add any extra power for your towers, but they will reveal Stealth units and also allow you to gain more resources from any enemies killed in its range.
  • Mighty Glacier: Crashers and Juggernauts. These guys can make off with three power cores at once, but due to their size and weight, they are slooooow (in fact, they are the slowest of all the aliens).
  • Minimalist Cast: Just the unnamed player character and Fletcher. Containment adds two more, Cai and Simon Ritter.
  • Mood Whiplash: If you lose all of your cores, you get to hear Fletcher's melancholic last words as the grid shuts down. Right afterwards, the post-battle menu screen shows up and Fletcher cheerfully encourages you to try again.
  • Mook Maker: Seekers periodically open a portal to the enemy aliens' home planet, allowing (usually) smaller but weaker aliens to join the fray. In the final campaign level, there are Seekers that will generate nigh-endless waves of Crashers and Rumblers if they aren't dealt with.
    • Turtles are heavily armored boss enemies that carry weaker Mooks inside, which are released when the Turtle is defeated. In later levels, they carry Rumblers!
  • Multi-Mook Melee: The standard gameplay, taken to the extreme in the Grinder and Super Grinder modes.
  • No Fair Cheating: If you completely block the aliens' path to the cores, they'll simply walk right past the offending tower. Depending on your tower composition, this will result in a shorter path than you planned for the aliens, which is very, very bad.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: Some stages have challenges that give you only a single core.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Towers rise up almost fully assembled from hatches in the ground. Justified in that you are re-activating an existing defense grid, and the resources you are gathering are effectively repair parts for existing components.
  • Scoring Points: At the end of a mission, you're given points based on how many Resources you have, the sell value of your towers (which is always less than the buy value, ensuring that buying and upgrading towers will reduce your score), and how many Cores you have intact. You're also given medals for hitting point milestones. Thus, maximizing score and getting those gold medals is based around efficient Resource use while preventing your Cores from being stolen.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: The General is often overcome with the tragedies he's experienced a thousand years ago. At one point he briefly thinks he's still fighting the previous war.
  • Shout-Out: Once more into the breach!
  • Trademark Favorite Food: The General really loves raspberries, although he also enjoys blueberries too.
  • Turtle Power: One of the enemies is actually called the "Turtle". It has a lot of health, and just like a turtle, contains stuff inside its hard shell.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: If you design a very efficient layout minimizing cost, the unused energy generates interests, in turn making the game easier as you'll eventually reach a Money for Nothing point. If however, your defense is hard-pressed, you won't have much help from the interest rate. In addition, unreturned cores (which also lower said rate) are harder to defend so the next wave of enemies gets more dangerous than it should be with a static defense, relay-races with cores are common and pestering in that scenario.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: The General.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: Towers are built and upgraded with a single Gold-type resource from killing aliens which doubles as your score, along with the remaining cores and total sell value of your towers at the end of the level. The game encourages minimal use of resources through interest.
  • Zerg Rush: Swarmers. Weak health, but damn, they come in large swarms!

Alternative Title(s):

Defense Grid The Awakening, Defense Grid, Ptitlemyyr8iai