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Dungeon Defenders: First Wave
by Paul Byron on Tuesday 21st Dec 2010

Fighting off the Menus

Dungeon Defenders: First Wave is the second game (after Infinity Blade) to be made using the Unreal Engine on iOS.  As such it has some very big boots to fill. However, genre-wise, the game couldn’t be more different.

A lovely introductory animation sets the background story in motion.  As sons and daughters of the  town’s heroes, you are put in charge of guarding the evil creatures that have been trapped by your parents a long time ago while they go off on a quest.  All doesn’t go according to plan and an accident soon creates havoc, with all sorts of creature running amok trying to reach the ultimate evil trapped in a series of crystals.


Dungeon Defenders: First Wave

The game is an interesting mix of Tower Defence, RPG and Hack and Slash.  If that sounds a bit bewildering then you’ve probably got an idea of what it’s like the first time you boot up the game.  Luckily, there’s quite an intensive tutorial to take you through the basics of placing defences, levelling up, choosing weapons and fighting.

But before you get into all that the game asks you to choose a character class from 4 available.  Each one has different skills and abilities so you’ll need to play to your strengths.  After then choosing your equipment it’s on to setting up the defences.

From the outset you’ll start with a basic barricade.  It’s not all that good at anything but keeping those nasty enemies from reaching the crystal that you need to protect while you go around the other side and hack them to bits.  As you progress you will pick up new weapons, armour and defences to use on the enemy.  You will be able to choose what armour to use and what skills to level up.


Dungeon Defenders: First Wave

Towers are the key to success.  Waves of enemies start to get bigger and impossible to manage by hacking at them alone.  Placing Towers at key points allows you to manage the enemy, just as with standard Tower Defence game.  Dependent on your character, the towers will have different attack patterns and weapons available.  Finding the right ones for each type of enemy or wave is crucial.  Level up your character and while the towers take care of one wave you’ll be able to easily hack through another with a more personal touch.

In theory it’s a brilliant idea, but there is a problem.  While the menus cover just about everything you need to do in the game, they use far too much of the screen up.  Some menus, such as the defence selector, are even hidden under other menus at times.  While this would be fine in a turn based strategy, in a real time game like this, the last thing you want to do is spend time fiddling with menus while the enemy attacks.  The other thing which will annoy those just starting the game is that the text for the tutorial gets in the way of the action and there’s no easy way (that I could see) of getting rid of it, other than waiting for it to go away which sometimes took several minutes longer than necessary.


Dungeon Defenders: First Wave

Which is a shame, because the graphics and animations are pretty impressive.  While they’re not up there with Infinity Blade, for a game of this kind they are far more detailed than iOS games are used to and the world feels solid, if a little cramped once you’ve placed down a few defences.

The mini map, though, could be clearer.  It’s not always obvious which way you’re facing in relation to the crystal or the enemies and this adds precious seconds in getting to those critters before they reach the crystal or placing another defence.  Add in some less than satisfactory touch controls and you have a painful experience moving from place to place.

These faults aside, big faults though they are, the game is pretty solid and certainly feels unique.  It’s hard not to love the characters and the obvious attention to detail that has gone in to making Dungeon Defenders, battling through the hordes is as fun as in any good Tower Defence game and the action is on a par with a solid action RPG and once you get used to the annoying control scheme you can forgive some of the issues this game has in favour of what lays underneath.

Add in multiplayer, which seems stable enough and certainly helps even the odds against the larger waves of enemies and you have a game that deserves a longer play through than some may give it time for.

Dungeon Defenders: First Wave is not the game many were hoping for and may disappoint on first play, but give the game time and forgive it the cluttered menu and you have a decent original title that deserves a play through.

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  • Sound: 8
  • Graphics: 8
  • Gameplay: 7
  • Longevity: 7



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