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Dungeon Hunter II
Platform: iPhone/iPod Touch
Publisher: Gameloft
Developer: Gameloft
Genre: Action RPG
Format: Download
Released: US 12/09/10



Scorecard
Graphics: 80%
Sound: 75%
Gameplay: 75%
Control: 70%
Story: 70%
Overall: 73%
Reviews Grading Scale
 
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Mourn not for Thug. He will respawn soon.
 
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The first boss, falling to the power of multiplayer.
 
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This is a pretty good-looking game. Shame it came out the same day as Infinity Blade.
 
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There's a good amount of variety in the level design, too.
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John Tucker
Dungeon Hunter II
12/22/10
John Tucker

Oh, what a difference a year makes! In November 2009, I played and reviewed my very first iOS RPG, the original Dungeon Hunter. I was impressed by the graphics, had fun with the gameplay – I liked it all. Thirteen months later, I've reviewed about one iOS game per month, and played a lot of other games that don't fit in our coverage. Now, with Gameloft's release of Dungeon Hunter II, I'm back to my iOS reviewing roots. So, how did I feel about this entry as a gamer with more experience on the platform? Well, let me tell you.

Story-wise, Dungeon Hunter II follows its predecessor by a generation or two. As before, you play a prince who is trying to save his kingdom from evil – probably the same evil that you were saving the kingdom from the first time around, although you're not sure at the game's outset. Sadly, the series seems to have taken a few steps backwards in the story department. It's lost its sense of humor, for one thing, which is sad. Perhaps others found the first game's running gags more annoying than I did. Also, there are a few twists and turns along the way to an ending I found both sad and disappointing, but those twists are very predictable. So predictable that I actually said "Curse your sudden but inevitable betrayal" to my iPod on at least one occasion.

In general, Dungeon Hunter II doesn't mess with the gameplay formula established in the first game. It's a hack & slash RPG (my favorite kind), and in general, you'll find yourself running around, tapping the attack button to kill enemies, and evaluating the bounteous loot they drop to see if it's worth keeping. It's not all the same as in the first game, though: bows have been added, as have subclasses and a multiplayer mode. Bows were too slow and didn't do enough damage for my liking, so I only used one on a few occasions when fighting a boss who was strong at close range but wouldn't move in on me at long range. As your main class, you can still select to be a brute strength-focused warrior, a quick rogue, or a mage, but at a certain point in the game, you'll select one of two subclasses for each main class. Unfortunately, you won't be able to see anything but a brief description of the subclasses before you're forced to pick, and the game autosaves as soon as you do, so you'd better hope you choose well. As per usual in an RPG, you get stat points and a skill point each time you level up, and once you've selected a subclass, you'll have a total of 8 active and 8 passive skills, but I found myself putting most of my skill points into just a few of those skills, mostly passive. As a rogue, most of the skills I could actively use felt either too similar to each other or just plain not strong enough to bother using.

As I said, there's also cooperative multiplayer, and perhaps as a preparation for it, you'll have a companion with you through most of the single-player game. It's a completely ineffectual companion, though; he'll fire at enemies, but he doesn't seem to do any damage, and he doesn't do much to distract enemies, either. Still, he doesn't really get in your way, so at least he's got that going for him. If you want to play with real people, you've got a number of options: Bluetooth, local wi-fi, or online. If you choose online, you can play using GameCenter or Gameloft's own Live service. I tried both, and was unable to get connected using GameCenter. Gameloft Live got me a game, but I didn't find it very entertaining. I found myself in a game with three random strangers and no way to communicate. We just ran around killing whatever there was to kill until I got tired of it and left. Still, aside from not being able to communicate, the service seemed to perform well: there was no lag, I was quickly matched up with other players of a similar level to my own, and the extra players casting spells didn't cause me any framerate issues.

Graphically, Dungeon Hunter II was released on a terrible day – the gorgeous Infinity Blade came out too – but I'll try to be fair to it anyway. This game appears to use an upgraded version of its predecessor's engine, and it's got a lot going for it. The environments are very detailed, as are the characters. I was particularly happy with the animations in some of the in-engine cutscenes. Some of the level designs are less than inspired, but I did really like the semi-ordered insanity of the last level. There's even a minimap, although you have to go into the menu to see it. I only have one visual complaint: many levels have things like trees or pillars that hide your character or your enemies, and the game does nothing to help out. No making things semi-transparent or putting indicators behind objects to show you where you are. This issue very nearly got me killed on multiple occasions.

In terms of sound, this game is essentially identical to its predecessor. Sound effects and music are standard RPG fare. The only voice acting in the game is in the opening cutscene, and it's the normal, slightly-over-the-top movie trailer narrator work. The background songs aren't amazing, but you can listen to your own music while you play using music controls within the game, although your only choices are to play your predefined playlists or shuffle all songs. That was great in the first game, because the OS at the time didn't have the ability to multitask, but now that we're dealing with OS 4, I would have preferred that the game allow me to play my music using the device's standard app, as it has many more options.

Control-wise, you have multiple options, although one works much better than the other. Namely, you can use a virtual joystick, which works pretty well, or you can simply tap the screen where you want to walk, which doesn't work as well. The main issue with the screen-tapping method is the amount of real estate that the attack and skill buttons take up on the screen. When you're using the virtual joystick, the size and placement of those buttons work well, but they really restrict your movement when you're tapping the screen to move.

Regardless of the control scheme you choose, the game has issues with targeting, mostly when it comes to destructible items. When you press the attack button to hit one, the game will sometimes attempt to move you into place, even though you already are, leaving your character bumping up against a barrel over and over. You can try to move away, but it won't let you until a few seconds have passed. I just gave up on barrels after a while: they only give cash and potions, both of which I had plenty of at all times. It wasn't a hardship, but it was an annoying control issue nonetheless.

When I reviewed the first Dungeon Hunter, I said that I was happy with what my $5 bought me. Dungeon Hunter II was $7 when I purchased it, and while I wasn't actually disappointed in it, I wasn't as happy with it as I was with the first game. It's not bad, but it's not great, either. It's prettier than the first game was, but I think that's the only way in which the second game is noticeably improved over its predecessor. On the other hand, there are several ways in which the first was better, at least when you consider its contemporaries. Dungeon Hunter 2 was released in the same timeframe as several other high-profile iOS games, and while it's worth playing, if you're going to wait on one of those games to go on sale before you buy it, this is probably the one to choose.



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