Sunday, December 13, 2009

Review: "Dungeon Keeper 2"

This is one of the games I do not mind going back to several times just to play it. DK2 if the predecessor of, well, DK1, made by Bullfrog, one of the companies that eventually got taken over by EA.

DK2, on the surface, might be thought of as an RTS where you create a home for your evil minions to live in and try to take over the surface world. Looking at it closely, it's really a mix of RTS and city-building sim, with more focus to the city-building sim side. It carries an evil theme too; probably one of the best selling points of the game.

The core of all dungeons: The Dungeon Heart

In every game you start with, you start off with your Dungeon Heart, which you have to prevent the 'good guys' from destroying, and a few imps, worker units that shape your dungeon.

To start off, you can order your imps to destroy walls to 'make room' for your dungeon. Once they cleared an area, they will start claiming the area (so that you can build your stuff on it) and reinforcing the walls (so that 'good guys' have a harder time getting in.

There are various rooms you can build, most of them which can only be minimally effective as a 3x3 room. Rooms provide facilities for your creatures as well as attract new types of creatures. The basic rooms a dungeon need is a Lair (for them to sleep and stay), a Hatchery (for them to eat), and a Teasury (to increase the maximum amount to gold you can hold and for your creatures to collect their pay).

Watch as your poor enemies starve to bones...literally.

other rooms include:
- Training room (for units to train to level 4 by themselves)
- Library (attracts warlocks and research spells)
- Prison (accomodation for your prisoners, who will eventually become skeleton if not taken care of)
- Workshop (attracts trolls and research traps and doors)
- Temple (to sacrafice units)

and many others...

In DK2, you play as the Dungeon Keeper, the 'god' of your dungeon. With your evil green animated hand cursor, you can pick up creatures and drop them, you can slap them to make them work faster and give present them gold to make their morale better.

Speaking of morale, your creature's happiness affect your overall dungeon. Creatures are not 'built', they just come when they decide to come, so essentially you do not have control on your population. They also leave when they decide to leave, usually when they are unhappy, probably because you do not have a lair for them, feed them enough, or maybe you tortured them too much.

Ememies in your library!

You also have your whole range of spells, researched by your hardworking warlocks in the library, which you can use anywhere in the map as long as you have that area claimed by your imps. The first spell you get allows you to possess any of your creature, allowing you to 'play' as the creature in first person.

Thanks to the workshop, you are able to protect your dungeon with doors and traps, in case there aren't any creatures wandering that area. Traps vary from Sentry Traps (which alert creatures of your dungeon) to the very standard Spike Traps (which simply damages the victim). Doors are most different in their toughness, but there are special doors that damages opponents too.

Your creatures don't just increase in power as they level (okay some do, but not all). Some gain more abilities (up to 4) as they level. Even your worker imps gain new abilities as they level (teleport at level 10). It's fun espacially because you can possess them and test them out. It's really a nice gimmick they added onto the game.

One last thing to top off in the game is the atmosphere. The voice of the mentor, Richard Ridings, fits the evil-comic-setting of the game. Listening to him annoucing "It's payday" in a irritated voice made me grin every now and then.

DK2 might not really be an RTS. In fact, I think it's more like a city-building sim than an actually RTS, since you do not really have much control on your minions. The only part that is 'RTS' about it is being able to play multiplayer or skirmish to try to 'kill' another opponent's Dungeon Heart, as well as going for map control and resources. As a sim, it is a really fun game to play and allows you to take a break from being a good guy that most games do.

And I think it's still pretty amusing to slap your minions to death when you feel bored. And put them into graveyards to raise them as future vampires. NeetGeek gives "Dungeon Keeper 2": 8.5/10

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