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Dungeon Hunter - My Impressions

I’m a huge fan of the top-down fantasy RPG genre made popular on the PS2 by the Baldur’s Gate and Champions of Norrath games. There were two in each series, and I’ve played the all. I’ve actually played through Champions of Norrath several times, and I still hold that game as the pinnacle of the genre (on consoles at least – Diablo is on the PC).

The current generation hasn’t brought us many of these games,. The two I know are Untold Legends and Sacred 2. Untold Legends came out pretty early in the PS3’s life cycle, and I bought and played the whole thing co-op with a friend. It was alright, but not really anything special. Champions of Norrath was much better. Sacred 2 was much larger in scope, and held lots of promise. But it was very buggy, and these bugs prevented me from doing several things in game that I think are crucial to the experience, like swapping items with friends. It claimed that I was cheating, when I wasn’t. I tried wiping all my data and doing it again, but got the same result. This was really quite frustrating, and I eventually gave up on the game.

Now Gameloft has ported Dungeon Hunter to the PS3, and I’ve been playing it online with some friends. How is it? Well, if I wasn’t such a big fan of the genre, aching to play a game like this, I’d probably give it a fail and move on. But because I really like games like this, I’m enjoying it in spite of its failings. What can I say? I love slaying orcs and wizards and big fat beasts with knives for hands.

What has this game done right? Well, it has a lot of content for only $13. You get three character classes, inventory management, and skill trees. You level up and buy and sell things at shops. Standard stuff, and enough to make the game enjoyable to someone like me. Torchlight on the 360 did all these things better (much better), but did not have co-op. So I get to play Dungeon Hunter with two friends, which is great.

What has the game done wrong? Lots of stuff. First of all, you’ll notice that the load times are terribly long. Like really long. Long long long. For a game stored on the hard drive, that’s deplorable.

The game is buggy. It has hung or crashed several times. Last night my friend had to reboot his PS3. I had to quit the game and re-enter it. This has happened three or four times now in our fifteen hours of play so far. As well, as you play through the game, fairies join your quest and you can use their powers. Well, unless you’re Steve, in which case you can only see the default fairy and not the others. Then there’s the monster-off-the-map problem. One of the bosses was sitting out on the black nether region of the map, and we killed him from the sidelines. Lastly, there was also a problem with one person seeing quest completion while the rest of us didn’t. We had to kill the same boss twice!

The game tries to make distribution of treasure fair by colour-coding the treasure drops. Only the character of the appropriate colour can pick up a treasure. All fine and good, except that my two friends and I are playing the three classes available, so we’re constantly swapping loot. It would be nice if they colour-coded the treasure according to which character can use it most.

Another big problem is the level design, which is uninspired. Boring even. I just saw some video of the Crimson Alliance game that was recently released on the 360, and I felt shame for the Dungeon Hunter creators. The Crimson Alliance levels are so much nicer, it’s hard to make a comparison. When my friends and I are done Dungeon Hunter, we’ll turn to Crimson Alliance.

There are lots of little annoyances in the game, many of which I haven’t mentioned, but the worst are the loading times and bugs. My friends and I are plugging our way through the game, and having some fun. But I think we’ll have more fun once we turn our attention to Crimson Alliance.