The Great Wizard, Galdryn of the Meadows, has been slain in a devious and deadly conspiracy within the Circle Of Mages. With his good friend and chief ally, Lord Davenmoor, fighting to save his kingdom from the dark denizens of evil and the subsequent disappearance of his daughter, the scene is set for a hero.
And so it is with Dungeon Lords - a hectic, fun hack-and-slash roleplaying game that features some nice touches, but also some unforgiveable glitches.
Developed by D.W. Bradley, who also developed such games as the Wizardry series, Dungeon Lords attempts to combine the depth and role-playing of Oblivion with the hack-and-slash of Diablo and the adrenaline of real-time combat found in first-person shooters. It is an ambitious mix, and one which in part succeeds.
Product Features (4 out of 5)
Featuring full 3rd person 3D perspective, Dungeon Lords provides non-stop game action and exploration. Some of the environments the player will encounter include:
- Outdoor wilderness
- Mountains and arctic lands
- Towns and villages
- Castles and dungeons
- Temples and ruins
- Caves and sewers
Combat features a wide arsenal of attack and defense combination moves, all with real time player control of combat tactics, spell casting, choice of weapons and use of powerful artifacts.
There are numerous personal quests that the player can undertake, each featuring a world brimming with NPC characters to interact, trade and barter with. Full role-playing interaction can influence the outcome and reaction of NPCs - making allies or enemies.
Character creation is varied, and players can choose from a variety of races and 20 character classes, each with their own skills and abilities. Characters can choose to specialise as they gain experience in the game.
Dungeon Lords features an exensive inventory that features common, rare and unique items. Collect weapons, armour and shields, items of clothing and jewellery; some of which are magical and powerful!
Dungeon Lords can be played by both single-player and multi-player. Choose to play the game as a lone hero, or team up with friends.
Good Points (4 out of 5)
Dungeon Lords is fun; it has a charm that has been missing in many games of a similar ilk. The game doesn’t try to take itself too seriously - it’s not flashy and it’s not trying to turn heads by introducing all-new features. While it’s mix is undoubtedly ambitious, the fact that the game doesn’t take itself too seriously is a refreshing change to the very serious tone of many role-playing games. The goblins, for example, cackle gleefully as they try to swarm you and chuckle whenever they hit.
The game is lengthy and with numerous side-quests to undertake, the game’s longevity is impressive.
Real time, random encounters are a worthy note. Stand still too long and it’s likely a bandit or goblin will sidle up alongside before too long, eager to take a chunk out of you.
The monsters’ AI is generally good, making for decent combats. Encounter a pack of goblins and some will pepper you with arrows, while others try to swarm and flank you. If you run away, they’ll try to follow you. If you get away, they’ll hide and wait on you coming back again. Dungeon Lords handles this particularly well; unlike many other games, the attacking strategies of monsters don’t rely on blindly rushing headlong into the player.
One aspect of the game combat that is surprising is the friendly-fire concept: enemies can and do hit one another in their haste to get to you, making manoeuvring all the more important.
Bad Points (2 out of 5)
Dungeon Lords has missed a few tricks which turn a potentially excellent game into a mediocre slash-fest. There are also numerous bugs throughout the game which hinder enjoyment.
The quest system employed by Dungeon Lords often locks the player into long-winded conversations with NPC characters who may - or may not - provide useful information or quests. Unfortunately, there is no escape from these conversations and they need to be endured for the player to progress.
A glaring omission is the lack of an auto-map. Some of the areas in Dungeon Lords are massive, but the scenery all looks the same and it’s incredibly easy to lose your bearings and end up hopelessly lost, especially once you enter the more complicated dungeons. There is an onscreen compass, which is better than nothing, but it only shows you the immediate area and you’ll need to memorise the layouts and routes you’ve taken.
Some of the rendering leaves a fair bit to be desired and it’s not uncommon to find yourself fighting an opponent in a Wile-E-Coyote style-scenario in mid-air or walking midway through walls.
Performance (3 out of 5)
Dungeon Lords doesn’t require a mammoth PC to run effectively. It’s mimimum system requirements are fairly low-end meaning those with older systems should be able to play the game without much problem, even though there may be a lot of movement on screen.
With good and bad points in near equal measure, the ambitious mix of Dungeon Lords could have been so much better. That said, the game could be worth persevering with if you can look beyond the game’s shortcomings.
Neverwinter Nights, Oblivion, Dungeon Siege