Defiance (Xbox 360*)

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Part of an ambitious multimedia campaign that includes a serialized TV drama on the SyFy network, Defiance is a massively multiplayer shooter set primarily in the San Francisco area of a near-future Earth. In the world of Defiance, a group of seven alien races fled the dying star system of Votan in the hopes of peacefully assimilating on Earth. But war broke out, and the alien ark-ships were destroyed, leaving many floating in near orbit, and sending others crashing into the ground where they released terraforming technology that drastically altered the globe in mere decades.

After years of fighting, some humans and aliens formed a tenuous alliance as their cultures gradually melded, while other groups remain at odds with one another and with various creatures that now roam the planet. Gamers step into this world as an Ark Hunter, nanosuit-wearing mercenaries who specialize in combat and salvage, and head into the frontier-like wilderness of the new Bay Area to seek out fallen ships in hopes of turning alien technology and minerals into large sums of money. Players can choose their gender, decide to be human or of the alien Irathient race, customize their appearance, and then select from four different origins.

The main storyline in Defiance centers on wealthy industrialist Karl Von Bach, who is known for encouraging Ark Hunters to help him find valuable alien technology. But a ship carrying Von Bach is shot down, and gamers must travel across the Bay Area helping survivors and seeking out the missing C.E.O. Defiance is littered with side missions for fans of both solo- and multiplayer action, including raids on enemy bases, vehicular time trials, and destruction-filled rampages. Gamers earn XP and level up as they complete missions and kill enemies, accessing new weapons and technology, including powerful EGO nanosuits that can temporarily imbue characters with superhuman abilities.

The multiplayer aspect of Defiance manifests itself in a variety of ways. Gamers can team up with friends to investigate minor Arkfalls (when chunks of Votan ship crash into Earth), while majors Arkfalls are often guarded hoardes of giant beasts and large groups must work in conjunction to loot the wreckage. The team-based Shadow War and free-for-all Deathmatch PvP modes are typical of multiplayer shooter action, while Defiance also includes the crafting, trading, and guilds more often associated with MMOs.