iPad Review: Dungeon Hunter 2
Second in the series of popular Diablo-clones, Dungeon Hunter 2 takes the series in a more complete direction, while keeping those qualities which made the original an addictive experience. Gameloft, Dungeon Hunter’s developer, is becoming one of the more prolific designer of iPad titles. Not exactly known for their innovations, where Gameloft has been succeeding is in taking tried and true gaming models from traditional consoles and transforming them into iPad releases. In the case of the of the Dungeon Hunter series, there are echoes of the lauded Diablo franchise and, to a lesser extent, the Baldur’s Gate games as released on the PS2 console.
Having said all that, Dungeon Hunter 2’s main protagonist, of your naming, has been imprisoned by his evil twin brother, Edward. Both you and Edward are immortals, hence your imprisonment, as well as being heirs to the throne of the Kingdom of Gothicus. Your enfeebled father, once a mighty dark sorcerer, is now manipulated by Edward, who intended to lock you up for eternity and rule the Kingdom alone. Your story begins with a jailbreak and leads across the vast and diverse lands of Gothicus and beyond.
Before embarking on your adventure, you get your choice of three base classes- Rogue, Warrior and Mage. This initial choice affects most aspects of gameplay from stat allocation, to available equipment and battle strategy. Each class comes with a unique skill set and two specialization classes as your levels advance. The Rogue eventual becomes either an Archer or Deathwalker, Warrior a Beserker or Crusader and the Mage either a Shadowmancer or Illusionist. All of this for a download price of $6.99.
Dungeon Hunter 2 has one standard, slightly-tilted overhead camera view. Not too close nor too far removed, the camera distance successfully balances environmental interactions with appreciation for the detailed, colorful landscapes. This is especially nice since character appearance changes depending upon equipment worn, although the battle animations remain the same despite what weapon the character is wielding.
The game controls have you holding the iPad horizontally with a touch-joystick, and healing-potion hot-button, for the left thumb and action commands for the right. Button placement is well spaced and accessible, allowing for a general action command, a button to activate your guardian-fairy and three user defined buttons for class specific skills. While the user defined buttons are convenient, it would be even better if the placing of these buttons could be altered so the more useful buttons are not as equally close as the lesser ones. Since most of your time will be spend mashing the general action command, which in battle is the attack command, the game responds well catching each individual tap.
Despite a vibrant environment, there are a few drawbacks. The first issue is the propensity for the character to get snagged on environment elements. Instead of walking smoothly around some corners, the character snags on the element and all forward progress is thwarted and you have to back up and readjust your angle. The second issue involves the archetypical, goodie-containing, breakable barrel. Frequently when you attack the barrels, to break them open, your character gets stuck at the barrel, autonomously swiping at it futilely. This forces you activate a special skill to free your seizuring character.
Lastly, Dungeon Hunter 2 comes with an online play option. Impressively smooth, you can journey through the world with other players while not affecting your own progress through the single player campaign. This is an excellent way to gain levels and equipment beyond what would be available normally. However, joining a game below your progress offers little besides being big-brother to a low-leveled party. The one missing element of online play is a chat function to coordinate with fellow adventurers.
All together, the mechanics of Dungeon Hunter 2 offers some smooth, well-incorporated elements and others that scream for a bug-fix update.
Game Mechanics Score 2.5 / 5
Dungeon Hunter 2 takes advantage of the iPad’s graphics, offering many different areas from frozen north to sweltering desert. Each area is richly detailed and colored allowing a feeling of immersion to the game. Character and enemy designs are well done, and only a few enemies are palette swaps, most are unique designs for their area of the world.
Music and sound effects are fitting, but ultimately forgettable. If anything, the gameplay lends itself to multitasking with the game volume muted. Cutscenes feel similarly muted, with characters and NPCs frozen on the screen with subtitled text scrolling beneath.
The in-game graphics are beyond that of the PSOne generation and never seem to get stale or recycled. The unique in-game design keeps you playing and pulls you along through an otherwise conventional gaming experience.
Ambience Score 3 / 5
No further elaboration of the storyline is necessary once you get the general premise. The story does contain its fair amount of twists and turnarounds, but if you are looking for a mind-blowing story, you’d do better picking up a romance novel. The sequence of kill, collect, level is exciting at first, but runs its course over time. You do get to choose your character class’s specialization, but this is a onetime evolution and can never be reversed or altered. Character skills are unlocked as you advance, but none of the skills are game-changing. You could even manage to go through the entire game never using skills. Beyond the main storyline are various side quests where you can collect more equipment, gold and experience points. While the side quests are a nice addition, if you run through each as they are presented your character will remain at a healthy level compared to the enemies, never placing you in any real danger.
Completing the game unlocks a game+ mode, where you can start over from the beginning with your character in order to collect the best equipment and reach the level cap. The storyline and locations don’t change and there aren’t any extra areas or dungeons to explore. It’s solely for those who have to get a 100% of everything.
Although well-functioning, the aforementioned lack of a chat function limits the enjoyment of online play. Adventuring locally with cohorts in the same room presents a more enjoyable experience than onlining it with a bunch of strangers.
The biggest drawback of Dungeon Hunter 2 is the repetitive gameplay and very low replay value. Some puzzles, or further class evolutions, would have gone a long way. Mashing the attack button, especially when accompanied by a bland storyline, leads the serious gamer to eventually lose interest in this title.
Fun Factor Score 2 / 5
With little depth to the game mechanics, the initial tutorial explains all you need to know in this attack-fest. Load screens between areas pop up helpful hints to the finer points of gameplay, not that there are many.
In the game menu there is a very useful area map and quest list. The map will even include markers for important locations for your active quest. A few places can be annoying to locate, but the in-game map is more than enough to help you along. There are not any secret locations, pathways or anything requiring a thinking progress to navigate to.
Since character classes are unalterable, and there is little value in replaying through areas, it is a good idea to read up on each character class and their specializations before beginning the game. You’re going to be stuck with your class and its skill set through many hours of gameplay, so it’s better to make sure you will be happy with it ahead of time, then to have to replay hours of the game because you wanted a different class. A quick internet search will reveal the skills, their level, and usefulness available for each specialization. An effort well worth the frustration of restarting your game.
Guidance Score 2/ 5
A well meaning Diable-clone, Gameloft avoids reinventing the wheel here, but presents us with a traditionally successful game model. A simplified hack’n'slash romp through a well designed world, Dungeon Hunter 2 doesn’t promise anything it cannot deliver. If you and your friends all have iPads, group adventuring locally can lead to some good laughs. The solo game suffers from repetitiveness and a bland story. While I wouldn’t place Dungeon Hunter 2 high on must-play list, but when you consider that Diablo 3 will probably have a price-point over $50, you can satiate your dungeon crawling, monster smashing, level grinding craving for a mere $6.99
Final Score 2.4 / 5
Written by Andrew