Review by RyanGillam
"Fantastic Game. Worth Every Penny!"
I've always had a great love for Tower Defence games; ever since I was a young lad seated in school pretending to get on with an epic essay but really wasting my time on the latest flash game to hit Mini Clip. The problem is I have never found one that has reeled me in and kept me hooked for a long time. Plants vs Zombies came close but somehow that just wasn't good enough. I had no inclination to continue playing after I had completed Adventure Mode. Sure there were mini games but nothing that I could play for hours on end. Trendy Entertainment have attempted to reinvent the wheel with Dungeon Defenders by combining RPG elements, 3rd person combat and Tower Defence Elements in one neat little package, but does it work?
The game is set in a land called Etheria. Long ago Legendary Warriors locked away the power of the Old Ones in Eternia Crystals. It is your job to stop an ancient force that has been awakened from destroying these Crystals. The plot is entirely secondary to the task at hand and serves more as filler than something that will continue to drive the game along. It is not memorable and is very distant second to the gameplay unlike a lot of RPG's. This is one section where I feel Trendy Entertainment have let themselves down as a great deal of enjoyment from Role-playing games comes from the world that is created around you. Luckily fantastic gameplay saves this from being a real downer and at least a story exists unlike a number of games that are being released nowadays.
At the start of the game you are able to choose one of four playable characters, each of them has very distinct abilities that you can use to your advantage. You are free to change between characters between the waves of monsters that are heading your way. You have The Apprentice' who appears to be the spitting image of Vivi from Final Fantasy IX. This little dude is able to summon the forces of magic to his bidding. The Huntress who is able to lay down deadly traps and use ranged weapons to defend the crystals. The Squire who is a deadly knight able to lie down spiked defences and use a multitude of swords. You finally have the Monk who can lie down debuff traps for the monsters. The game makes it easy to switch between these to create the best defences possible to protect you against the oncoming hordes. The selection of characters in this way does add a real depth to the game. You will have to level up every character individually in order to get the most out of their towers and weapons; this may seem like a tedious task but it really isn't. It's incredibly fun and will keep you coming back for more.
The first phase of the game involves you setting up your defences around the area; doors have labels on them to indicate where the next enemies are coming from. This is where the majority of strategy takes place and where you will be able to switch between characters in order to lay down your best defences. Each of the defences takes up mana points which are of short supply during the build phase; only being located in chests surrounding the level. It is therefore vital that the player strategises perfectly during this stage as one wrongly placed tower can be a complete drain of mana. This is something which cannot be replenished until the combat phase starts. You are also able to switch between characters at will here. At the start it does seem tedious setting up all your towers which may take a while but once you get into the swing of things and begin to learn all the traits of the heroes at your disposal it does become rather fun.
The second phase of the game is of course the combat phase. This is where you must protect your crystal against all odds. Unlike other Tower Defence games where you can just throw down a tower every so often and hope for the best, Dungeon Defenders' launches you straight into the fray. Each hero has a multitude of combat abilities at their disposal which you can use the attack the oncoming hordes of Goblins. The combat system to me did unfortunately seem a little messy' at times and wasn't particularly free flowing but it did add a great deal of fun to the game which easily countered this. In some Tower Defence games a lot of the time you will be placing down towers and not have much to do which can cause the boredom to set in quite quickly; whereas in Dungeon Defenders' there is always something going on. Whether it be repairing or building new towers or simply just blasting a magic spell at a gaggle of goblins that have surrounded your precious crystal. Despite the premise being fairly simple there is just so much to do during the combat phase that your attention will be well and truly hooked for hours.
The RPG elements in the game involve the levelling up of your character to use tons of new weapons and skills. Although not as in depth as a lot of RPG's there is still a lot to do here and it will take many hours to level up your characters to the point where all their abilities are at your disposal. The levelling however is not a tedious grind, as mentioned before you have a lot of action to keep you focused. There is also a genuine will to progress so that you can use that latest bit of armour or weapon rather than just to grab an achievement very few people would have. You are also able to put level points' into various parts of your character so that it genuinely feels like yours rather than a little guy that they game has just given you. If you like the combat then build up your health levels and combat skills; whereas if you like the towers then level up the traits relevant to the towers. There are a number of characters to builds possible and each of them feels distinct enough to each other to want you to level up multiple versions of the same hero.
If you wish to step away from the combat for a bit then you should head to your tavern; the place where your own personal shop is located. You are able to purchase new armour, pets and weapons to use in combat right here. The main feature however is being able to access the challenge mode where you are thrown into a wide range of scenarios that don't necessarily involve great amounts of combat. To me these actually seem fun rather than the many mini-games that are very pointlessly tacked onto many games today in order to increase their length. I do hope Trendy Entertainment have many of these challenges planned for downloadable content as I can guarantee there will be a lot of people in line to purchase it.
Co-Op mode is where this game really does shine. This is exactly the same as single player mode but you are able to team up with people locally or online to fight even more hordes of monsters. If you don't have the ability to play online then you are really missing out on a huge chunk of this amazing game. It feels incredibly different to single player despite being thrown into the same locations and will take everybody working together to actually succeed. It is one of the few Xbox Live Arcade games which has actually been done right for a change. I don't see the servers going dead for this game anytime soon as the online play is a very fun way to whittle away the hours.
The graphics whilst not particularly ground-breaking seem to fit the game very well. They are very World of Warcrafty with a cartoony zest to them. The environments are well designed and the majority of the levels you will be fighting through all seem very distinctive to one another. Trendy Entertainment have done a good job of bringing the world of Etheria to life. The game is able to handle many enemies on the screen without any slowdown of the game or graphical bugs; which is a testament to the developers as so many who have developed arcade games before them have failed.
Trendy Entertainment has created a superbly addictive game which has very few flaws. For a measly 1200 MSP you will been handed a superb game that excels both at single player and in co-op modes. Trendy Entertainment have successfully crafted a game which has enough depth to appeal to the hardcore gamer but enough accessibility to be pick up and play for the more casual gamer. This is something that many game developers have failed to do before them. This in my opinion is a must buy game and will be something that you will be playing for a long time to come.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 01/18/12
Game Release: Dungeon Defenders (EU, 10/19/11)
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