Defense of the Ancients is a unique game. It was a mod created within another game (Warcraft 3) through the custom map building tools. Interestingly, the “Use Map Settings” style of maps were once considered an afterthought or something to do for fun after playing ladder games of Warcraft 3, but now it's quite the opposite: many pick up their copy of The Frozen Throne simply to enjoy DOTA. This engaging multiplayer online battle arena game (MOBA) has been a constantly evolving game experience, the early forms virtually unrecognizable in comparison to our current version, 6.61 and the latest 6.72C, which was released on June 2nd 2011.
DOTA is one of the most popular forerunners of the MOBA genre, which can be loosely summarized as a game that includes control of a single hero in an RPG fashion, thrust into a PvP-centric battleground with other heroes. They level up, get items and gear, fight both players and NPC's, but it's all said and done within the span of roughly an hour – and every game starts back at level 1.
Graphics and Sound (2 out of 5)
The Frozen Throne was launched in 2003 – leaving the graphics and audio to work with dated. Trapped within the confines of the Warcraft 3 engine, the game has not aged well graphically. On the plus side, you'll be able to play it on pretty much any rig that runs.
Replay Value (5 out of 5)
No game of DOTA is ever quite the same. With around literally one-hundred heroes to play, no game is ever the same and the time commitment needed to play a round is just perfect.
Learning Curve (2 out of 5)
You are going to have to put in around 50 games before you've got the hang of things, and you will definitely be frustrated at the beginning of your DOTA career – there's so many things to learn about items and heroes that much of your time will be spent sitting in town trying to figure out how to make different things. Looking around on forums for guides and playing with some seasoned friends is highly recommended. Is it worth it? Yes, absolutely.
Community (2 out of 5)
Well there's a few ways you can play this game – probably the most satisfying is with a group of your friends – this will eliminate any of the “bad element” that DOTA has been noted for in recent years. Or you could try league play, once you get the hang of things. But if you're rolling around in public games, or “pubs”, you are going to be matched with 12 year old kids whose vocabulary could make a sailor blush, and as soon as you finally get that first kill you've been working so hard for, one of them will leave the game and ruin it for everyone. “Leavers” as they are known as are incredibly common in public games, as there is no accountability for their actions. Stick to playing with your friends or join a league and you can avoid the pitfalls of the DOTA public community.
Innovation (5 out of 5)
Defense of The Ancients was certainly not the first MOBA, but it's definitely the one that put them on the gaming map and brought the genre into the mainstream. If you've never played one before, it's definitely something that needs to be done. Combining many successful aspects from several varieties of games, MOBAs are an incredible blend of character building and development, team strategy, and player vs. player in a fast-paced environment.
Overall Score (4 out of 5)
If you can get past the dated graphics, the steep learning curve, and the sometimes loathsome community, you are in for a smashing good time in an ever-changing universe that is addictive, fun, and challenging.