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Friday, April 8, 2011

Review: Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (PSN)

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is not a good game. Don’t be fooled that it’s technically competent and is the first PSN RPG to feature four player co-op; it’s a soulless, dull hack and slash that was done better by Diablo back in 1996.

"Don't judge a book by its cover" works both ways


The comparisons to Diablo will run through this review, because Dungeon Hunter: Alliance copies it in every way possible. You’ll start the game out in a crypt, and are quickly introduced to a silly story where you’re a long-dead king brought back to life to deal with a wife who you tried to bring back from the dead but came back corrupted, killed you and is now terrorising the local population.

Which means in four-player, there are four long-dead kings running around. Poor setup, really, and it also means that this game is a sausage fest. Female characters not welcome. From the crypt, you’ll proceed to trek down samey dungeon halls which, although technically proficient are generic to the point of boredom, and slaughter equally generic goblins, demons and undead.

Once you complete this generic tutorial, you’ll emerge into a generic fantasy town (with a downbeat theme song which almost sounds like it was pulled from Diablo), where you’ll shop, accept more quests, and then trek back through the same dungeon setups. To be fair, the highlight of the entire game is here in this town – a street kid's soundbite channels Summoner Geeks. That bit is funny.

Wow. Because we haven't seen these guys a hundred times before

Why Diablo was successful was it captured a real Gothic atmosphere within its randomised dungeons, with Dungeon Hunter, it’s just bland. There’s no creepy atmosphere, there’s no gloomy halls. Although the visuals are technically well-done, they’re just not interesting.

What really kills Gameloft’s knockoff is the gameplay itself. You have three characters to choose from – a mage, fighter and rogue – and just like in Diablo they have skill trees, and status points that you can upgrade each time you get a new level. The game does a poor job of explaining how this all works though – it’s almost like you’re expected to have played Diablo before this game, but if you have, it’s straightforward enough.

Enemies attack you in respectable sized swarms, and you’ll beat them down with a respectable variety of attacks. The button layout is good – the ever-vital potions are mapped to L1, and it quickly becomes the most important button.

Sigh. If Gameloft would just put a little effort into some original ideas, its games would be great

But it’s all too boring to get into. The character moves fairly slowly, and the backtracking to find potion dispensing glowing crystals (I kid you not) will have you comatose. You can team up with 3 people, and like everything else in the game, it works largely without fault, but then you’re going to end up with four bored people being bored together. Bosses are sometimes tough, but dull design means they’re also completely forgettable.

This technically-competent-but-bland knockoff is Gameloft to a T, of course, and in all fairness, at least this RPG isn’t laboured with needing to produce a “quality” story like Eternal Legacy failed at miserably.

But then this is $Aus20 – approximately twice as much as it’s worth. Modern Combat: Domination gets away with being a cheap Call of Duty knock-off because it is actually cheap. This game is expensive for PSN, and you can get a retail copy of the far superior, more modern Diablo homage, Sacred 2 for around that price. Don’t bother with this.




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Review: Dungeon Hunter: Alliance (PSN)
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