Second time’s a charm in this vastly improved, 2.0 version, of the Dungeon Hunter original…
Gothicus is once more a land in danger. You are the only hope to save the citizens, and to live by the legacy of your father the true king. Venture into the land of betrayal, deadly foes and sins of the forefathers. You have to select a path to walk: mage, warrior or rogue. Wise magic, brutal strength or nimble dexterity.
Dungeon Hunter 2 feels like a remake of the first game, as the scenery is much the same. I didn’t find the story in the first to be gripping, and this is true in the sequel as well. What has been much improved though is the entire game. It is a much more accessible, and fluent experience to play. The side quests feel integrated into the main story line, and at times it is hard telling them apart from the story. This gives the game a non-linear feel. Kudos to Gameloft for pulling that feat off. Having a linear game feel non-linear is a marvel of pacing.
There are two control schemes: virtual stick and touch. The touch controls lets you simply touch where you want your hero to walk, fight or open a chest. It isn’t as direct, and to me it feels less engaging. It works well though, and you can play the game with one hand using this setup. The virtual stick is responsive, and the range of movement is excellent. If you venture too far off with your thumb it still lets your character move, as long as your thumb is touching the screen. The touch buttons for magic, and special attacks are also quite responsive.
The interface has been improved as well, and it is one of the best found in an action RPG. Easy to use with a good balance of information: not too much, and not too little. You can select what mission to make active, and it shows up on the map as a green cross. Upgrading your character is one of the driving forces in the game, and there are quite a lot of special abilities to unlock. For each level you get two ability points to distribute on strength, dexterity, endurance or energy. You also get one skill point to use on a wide variety of features such as special attacks, or passive skills. Regeneration and quicker experience acquisition are my personal first choices. Depending on the character class you choose you also get to select a path. For example, I got to select either a crusader or berserker skill tree for my warrior. This affects the replay value deeply, and I will go back into the woods of Gothicus to try the game using all the other options later on.
Replay value is immense, and I have been playing Dungeon Hunter 2 back to back. You unlock harder difficulty levels upon completion, and the game keeps feeling fresh. Dungeon Hunter 2 is balanced just on the verge of being hard at times. This is important, as games that are too easy, are just as boring as those that are too hard.
When it comes to the ample dropped loot I had objections about in the first Dungeon Hunter, the sequel works just the same. Too much stuff is being dropped, and soon you transmutate almost everything into gold. It is hard finding better equipment at the merchant during the first run through. When replaying the game, more interesting items show up, and you have to develop your character to buy the best gear.
The presentation is excellent for the genre, and only the in-game cut-scenes feel unpolished and blocky. The backgrounds are full of life, and both the hero and enemies are well drawn and animated. The bestiary is both varied and creative. Some of the bigger bosses are boring to fight though, as it is just a matter of tapping away on the attack button.
The musical score is strong with an ambient orchestral style. Sound effects are meaty, and despite spending four to five hours a day with the game they never grate on me. You can play your own music, and keep the sound effects.
Multiplayer works well using both the Gameloft Live and Game Center online services. It isn’t available for earlier iPods/iPhones, as it takes some power running. It also drains battery quite quickly on my iPhone 4. There is only co-op available for up to four players, and to be fair it isn’t all that good. Of course it depends on who you play with. I have only jumped into random parties, and it feels like girl soccer. Everyone is running around chasing the same things, and it is hard to tell where I am in the huddle fighting a boss. Furthermore it spoiled my single player experience somewhat, as the gear and experience gained carried over to my save game. This made it a bit too easy playing the story mode. This can be a strength on the other hand if you get stuck in story mode, as you can gain some gear to beat a hard boss.
Loads of achievements are available in the game. Even though I don’t generally care about those in Dungeon Hunter 2, I get some satisfaction when it pops up that I have killed 100 enemies or reached level 80.
Dungeon Hunter 2 is a real treat to play. It is fluent, quick and full of action. Levelling up your character is fun, and even though there is too much dropped loot, you can find some good gear as well. Dungeon Hunter 2 was released on the same day as some wickedly good games such as Infinity Blade, and other RPGs such as Illusia and Eternal Legacy. Guess what game gripped me the most? I have not been able to put down Dungeon Hunter, and in my book it will probably be the game I have played the most during 2010. Even if you played the original to your thumbs were sore you will enjoy this. Newcomers to the Dungeon Hunter experience should start by playing the lite version of the original, and then buy the sequel right away.
Dungeon Hunter 2 gets my full recommendation, and it is one of the best most playable games for 2010 in my opinion.
Dungeon Hunter 2 $6.99
Seller: Gameloft S.A.