Posted by John on October 27, 2011

Dungeon Defenders Review for PS3

By Jason Van Horn

There are some game genres I’m absolutely in love with and it takes a really
terrible game for me to at least not enjoy it somewhat - the tower defense genre
does not fall into that category. In fact, there are very few that I actually
like, mainly because they remind me so much of RTS games and I’m atrocious at
those. Managing this, managing that, building this…it’s all too much. Dungeon
Defenders, however, is one tower defense game that I can get behind 100% as it’s
just what the genre was missing: a multiplayer/MMORPG component.

The story of Dungeon Defenders isn’t much beyond a setup for the reasoning
behind the game, but the basic gist is that there were four heroes who once
sealed away an ancient evil and then went on an adventure to push the rest of
the forces back. The heroes left behind their rambunctious children/heroes in
training, who ended up getting bored one day, messed around, and accidentally
unleashed the evil that had been contained. So now it’s up to you to take on the
role of one (or all) of these heroes and protect the kingdom’s crystals from
harm.


Players start by creating their hero, which can either be a mage, squire,
huntress, or monk. Once you’ve decided on what character class you want to play,
you can then customize the color of their clothing, give them a name, and off
you go. Though you can play any character you want and have multiple ones at the
same time, each one has its own distinct feel and gameplay mechanics, which make
some ideal for newcomers to the genre or those playing the game solo, while
other classes are made to coincide with others during the game’s multiplayer.

The mage is the beginner class, as he can fire projectiles from his staff,
charge it for a more damaging attack, or unleash an AOE (area-of-effect) blast.
The mage is focused on more traditional tower defenses, so they definitely have
an easier time with things starting out. The squire is a melee class who can
deal a lot of damage up-close and even go into a defensive block to help stop a
monster from advancing. The squire is all about defense for the most part, so
early structures include spiked barricades and bumpers like you’d find in a
pinball game. The huntress is a ranged, crossbow/gun wielder, but she must take
the time to reload her weapon whenever its ammo count runs out. The huntress
specializes in placing traps on the ground that trigger when an enemy comes into
the area, such as those that explode or slowly poison an enemy. The monk is a
hybrid, who can attack with melee weapons or shoot energy from his hand for a
long-range attack. The monk has arguably the hardest to solo abilities, as he
uses auras to hinder the enemy, such as causing an enemy to slow their
progression while they’re within an aura or take constant damage.

The game can be attempted (and completed) as a single-player game, but you’ll
have to grind and level-up, plus when you look at each class and what kind of
moves they have, you can see that Dungeon Defenders was built around the idea
that you’d be playing with other players. You can beat a level using only the
monk’s auras, but ideally they work better in conjunction with another class,
such as using a monk’s aura to slow an enemy, and placing said aura in front of
a mage’s tower so that the tower can do more damage before the enemy gets to it.
Furthermore, you could place one of the squire’s barricades in front of said
tower to keep the enemy within the aura for longer and keep them away from the
tower at the same time. Learning how to properly use everybody’s abilities and
overcome a rather daunting difficulty together is what Dungeon Defenders is all
about.


Each level is built around several waves of building and combat. During the
build phase of a wave, it’s up to you to analyze your surroundings, see where
enemies are going to be coming, and then putting up defenses along the way to
stop them from reaching your crystal (if the crystal takes too much damage you
lose). You can only have so many defenses (placed by spending gathered mana) on
the field at once and some defenses cost more slots depending on their power and
usage. After you’ve got everything where you think it needs to be, you click
your crystal and begin the combat phase, where the enemies start invading and
it’s up to your personal actions and your defenses to push the wave back. If you
manage to complete the wave the process starts over again, but you’ll find left
behind chests to replenish your mana and weapons and armor that you can equip
too. As you advance through the waves, strategy becomes more important, as the
number of enemies not only multiplies, but you’ll start fighting new creatures
as well. Some goblins and archers aren’t a threat, but throw in an ogre or those
little kamikaze goblins with the TNT strapped to their backs and you’ve got some
trouble brewing. After a wave is finished, you can go repair any damage, sell
defenses you don’t need anymore to make room for other defenses, and upgrade
current structures. You really need to get all your ducks in a row during this
downtime, as defenses are built quickly when in the build phase, but they take
considerably longer when actually engaged in the combat phase.

As you kill enemies you’ll earn experience points, which will lead to you
gaining new levels. New defensive structures open up at pre-determined levels,
but the big thing about leveling up is that you can shape your character’s
traits by allocating stat points into one of four categories. When it comes to
character classes, you can improve your character’s health, attack damage, how
fast they move around, and how quickly they can build structures during the
combat phase. Each character has a second branch they can fill out that is tied
into their defensive structures, such as giving your defenses more health/uses,
expanding the radius of a turret, how quickly it takes for a trap to reload,
etc. It’s great that you can shape your character however you wish and fill in
the spots where you’re lacking or that’s not needed if playing with friends.


Since Dungeon Defenders isn’t your typical tower defense game and has an
important action-oriented combat experience too, weapons and armor actually play
a vital role, and finding new and better loot is a lot like coming across
something nice in Diablo. While you can’t see the armor change on your
character, you can see what weapon they’re using, so that’s at least a nice
addition. It’s fairly easy to understand the stats too, as you’ll see red
numbers if a specific stat is lower than that of the piece you’re using, the
number will be white if the same, or it will be green if it’s an improvement.
Not all equipment is created equally, as you might find a nice crossbow to use,
but you can only get one shot off before you have to reload, but at the same
time you could find a staff that has a two-way spread whenever it’s shot. You’ll
gather a bunch of loot you can’t use, but you’ll be able to sell this either
during the build phase of a wave or at the tavern when you’re done.

The tavern is your personal hub for selling items, meeting up with teammates,
choosing which campaign mission or challenge to partake in, and adjust the
difficulty as needed. The tavern keep is the main person of interest here as you
can sell him your items and pay for him to perform one of several services like
re-spect your character, re-name them, etc. The tavern keep will also have a
rotating supply of armor and weaponry, which will sometimes be better than what
you can find during a stage. Since the items rotate out after each level, you’ll
always find new things to buy, but if there’s something you really want but
don’t have the money to pay for it, you can lock it in so it will be there the
next time you visit. Best of all, you can buy exclusive pets such as various
drakes and dragons, which come with their own stats and can be quite powerful
and helpful when engaged with the enemy; the pets aren’t cheap though, so you’ll
need to amass some mana in order to buy them.


If you’re going to play the game as a multiplayer title (as you should) then the
preferred way is online. The local couch co-op works fine, but some of the
information you need to be able to see - such as character stats - are shrunk
down so you can’t see what you’re adding a point too, plus it’s often hard to
see how much health an enemy still has when their info is hiding behind your
buddy’s screen. The game can be played solo or through local co-op, but online
is definitely the preferred way to play Dungeon Defenders.

Graphically the game is rather lovely in a goofy, bright, cartoonish way. The
environments are all different from each other, but it’s the whimsical character
design that won me over, as the heroes are all lovably cute, and the goblins and
other assorted nasty creatures are done with a more playful style (though you
can still shred them to pieces and cut stuff up and have your bloody
satisfaction). The music gets a little too repetitive and there’s not much in
the way of vocal work, but it’s all decent, and at least the sound effects are a
standout when it comes to the sound department.

I’m not generally a fan of tower defense games, but I was hooked from beginning
to end with Dungeon Defenders. I wanted to play all the characters and level
them up. I wanted to meet new friends and buy new pets. I wanted to go back and
try to beat my high scores and attempt those difficult challenges. I wanted to
play through a level again just to try and find a new piece of loot to buff my
character out with. The entire process of improving your character and then
trying them out online with a handful of strangers works extremely well and is
way too addictive. Dungeon Defenders comes highly recommended for both fans of
the tower defense genre and those who have never played one before in their
life.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

http://dungeondefenders.com/

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