The Dungeon Lord is back and this time he is very serious! In Dungeons 2, fulfill the Dungeon Lord’s insatiable quest for vengeance by recruiting fearsome new monsters from all corners of the underworld in order to undertake his evil bidding. Taking over the underworld is not enough though this time the Dungeon Lord will extend his dominion over the puny humans and attempt to conquer the overworld too!
Take control of the mighty Dungeon Lord and craft a network of unique and terrifying dungeons, recruit an army of fearsome creatures and command two new factions. Prepare to defend your Kingdom against those pesky heroes, go above ground to wage war on their human cities and use the “Hand of Terror” to take direct control over your minions, issue commands, and even dish out a swift slap to keep them in line.
The extensive campaign story mode is packed with even more of the dark humour which made the original Dungeons a hit and is peppered with numerous references to various fantasy books, movies and TV shows. Additionally, you can test your strength in four different game modes in multiplayer for up to four players with other Dungeon Lords over LAN or online.
The general idea of Dungeons 2 is definitely a good one. As a essence of Ultimate Evil, you are playing a Dungeon Keeper like strategy game below ground indirectly controlling your creatures to build rooms for efficiency, sending out little imps out to find caves and lots of gold, and managing entertainment for the bored creatures all this just plain works. When you have got a decent minion army, you can send them above the ground, where it is a real time strategy game where you take direct control over troops.
There is no major strategic element you just find enemies and beat them down. Also there is no significant tactical component. Things like attack while moving, or formations? Not even present at all. A few units have skills, like upgraded orcs who can buff nearby units with a sweet Battle Cry, But you will have to wrestle with the interface to get to them. There are also hotkeys for the special skills, it turns out, but Dungeons 2 never makes this clear.
The lack of important information, or poor explanation, seems to be a consistent problem throughout Dungeons 2. It tells you what you need to do (often, and annoyingly, during the campaign) but rarely how you might go about doing it using the confusing interface. To give you an example, on one campaign map, you have a mission to build an arena and train a unit with it. I did this, and consistently dropped my units on the new fighting pit.
He or she would sit there, whack the training dummy for a while, gaining experience…and the narrator would continue to tell me I needed to train units. It turned out that by “train,” Dungeons 2 meant a much more specific use of the Arena: I had to drop the unit onto the pit, then click on the Arena and select a unit upgrade. That would get the narrator off my back… very frustrating at times.
Way too much of my time was spent trying to figure out how to navigate three or more levels of maps, despite clicking the “attack” button that appeared over an enemy trap, my troops were simply standing there and letting it kill them over and over.
Yet even once I learned Dungeons 2’s interface small quirks, I found that its two mode structure prevents its stronger management game from being any fun. Because all of the significant conflicts occur in the RTS overworld, this means that a huge section of any Dungeon Keeper like game dungeon defense is utterly sketchy.
Occasionally a handful of enemy soldiers will suddenly pop in to keep you some what honest, but a handful of traps is usually enough to simply wipe them out with ease. Since the dungeon is essentially a safe place all game and since you will acquire hands off resurrection tech for your troops nothing stops you from just sitting for hours until you have constructed the perfect army, then bashing through everything in the overworld leaving nothing but carnage in your wake.
Meanwhile the spell casting and research (an essential part of the genre) exists in Dungeons 2, but since most of the spells only work in your own territory, away from all the conflict that might require them, they are rendered essentially useless. In the end, each Dungeons 2 map’s middle and endgame consists of little more than “get big army, right click on giant army’s target” over and over.
So it is up to the story to save Dungeons 2 from being a forgettable exercise… but it can’t. It is focused on you, the Ultimate Evil, attempting to regain power and crush all the good heroes who would defeated you in the tutorial mission. This is fairly standard stuff within the dungeon management genre, but it is told almost entirely through the voice of an incredibly chatty narrator.
The overall tone is supposed to be a friendly British storybook narrator that has gone evil, and it succeeds in very small doses. But the narrator never seems to shut up. Whatever charm he might have quickly disappears after yet another passive aggressive demand to do the next mission in the quest log, regardless of your current circumstances.
It is a shame Dungeons 2’s above ground RTS battles are so primitive and poorly done, because the underground dungeon management stuff actually works fairly well. It is nothing new or special another would be Dungeon Keeper successor but that is not the worst idea in the world. Dungeons 2 could have been a nice, if uninspired, Dungeon Keeper clone, but it reaches to do more than that, trips, and falls flat on its face. What do you think?