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Game Review: Dungeon Defenders

Reviewed for: Playstation 3 (via Playstation Network) and Xbox 360 (via Xbox Live Arcade)

Also available for: Windows PC

From: Trendy Entertainment/D3Publisher Of America

ESRB Rating: Everyone 10+ (alcohol reference, animated blood, fantasy violence)

Price: $15

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Don't let the downloadable size or cheerful presentation fool you. "Dungeon Defenders" is a fiendishly deep blend of dungeon crawling, role playing and tower defense, and if you engage this journey of potentially hundreds of hours, you'd best begin with the tutorial.

Superficially, "Defenders" follows the action-meets-tower defense blueprint: At the start of a level, you (and up to three friends via drop-in/drop-out online/offline co-op) strategically decorate your elaborate surroundings with traps, and when you give the green light and enemies rush in from all sides, you're free to run around and get your hands and weapons dirty fighting anybody who dodges the reach of those traps. Simple, right? Sure - until you realize straight away how different "Defenders'" four playable classes are. Each comes with separate weapons, traps, attribute stats, pets and abilities - all upgradable and customizable - and the inventory and role-playing interfaces more closely match that of a $60 "Elder Scrolls" game than a $15 downloadable equivalent.

Consequently, while "Defenders" holds up as a single-player game, it absolutely sings as a multiplayer experience. With four people coordinating an attack while each controls a different class (not required, just recommended) and solves unique problems with unique abilities, "Defenders" resembles a real-time strategy game in which players control every unit directly. The configuration is up to you, and between the story campaign, challenge room variants, player-versus-player arena and a level cap of 70(!) for each character class to achieve, there's a mountain of incredible content on which to try every idea that comes to you.

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