This is one alliance you don’t want to make...
Written by Super User
Published Thursday, 08 March 2012 19:00
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance had the perfect opportunity to be the leading role-playing title on the Vita console during launch. With no competition whatsoever, there was a clear path to being the top contender. Sadly, the Gameloft hack-and-slash RPG is its own worst enemy. With mind-numbing gameplay, as barebones a story as possible, and a lack of a powerful presentation, Dungeon Hunter: Alliance ends up being nothing more than a grinding snoozefest.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance puts you in the role of a long-dead king, resurrected more than two decades after dying to save the kingdom. Your evil wife has let a darkness sweep the land, and all these years later, you’re the only one who can stop her. That’s about as deep as the narrative gets. Sure, you’ll travel the lands to take out bandit kings, goblin kings, troll kings, etc., but there’s no real driving force to keep you doing these tasks. Without motivation, every dungeon lacks a sense of urgency and importance. What reason do you have to keep delving into these dark locales? Treasure? Sure, there’s lots of loot, but who cares how many great swords you have when you don’t really have a reason to wield it?
"Gameloft once again had an opportunity to set the bar for what to expect from a genre game on the Vita, and once again they’ve set such a low standard it’s not going to take long for another title to surpass it."
This is of course disregarding the fact that the game lacks any voice work or true cutscenes of any kind. With a story delivery structure straight out of the NES era, Dungeon Hunter leaves a lot to be desired. The Vita has a tremendous amount of power, yet Gameloft chose to make use of none of it. Dungeon Hunter being an upgraded port of a downloadable SEN title has something to do with that, but that still doesn’t excuse the developer for the lack of effort put into bringing the game to the Vita. The problem unfortunately doesn’t end with the story.
To say Dungeon Hunter’s gameplay is a repetitive bore would be an insult to repetitive bore’s everywhere. Whether you choose to play as the warrior, rogue, or mage, a majority of your time playing the game will be spent pressing the “X” button. A lot. There are some special attacks you can learn which are mapped to the other face buttons, but primarily, every dungeon plays out like a goblin-fueled game of Press X to Jason. There’s no real strategy involved, even when you get to boss encounters. Every single step of the game revolves around merely beating your opponents into submission, healing yourself when you take damage, and then attacking foes some more. The leveling system is as basic as can be, and doesn’t really offer much save for learning new skills as you progress.
The good thing about the endless stream of enemies coming at you is all the loot you’ll receive. There’s no doubting the influence Diablo had on Dungeon Hunter. Enemies will often drop some decent items and gold, while bosses and hidden treasure chests contain some rare and powerful artifacts. In fact, there will be so much loot, you’ll often have to drop some of the less impressive items you’ll pick up in order to keep up with the amount of antiquities you’ll be acquiring. It’s not very exciting or glamorous though. As cool as it is to find an amazingly powerful sword, it’s just another weapon with which to grind away in the never-ending twists and turns of the game’s dungeons.
What’s actually pretty impressive is how well Dungeon Hunter’s multiplayer works. You can bring your character online with two others, and gain experience by completing quests that will carry over into your single player game. Connecting was easy and smooth, provided you could find other people to play with. Facing down the endless drones of skeletons and zombies is a bit easier with others along for the ride, but there’s still no hook to keep you coming back. The game never evolves beyond button-mashing, and it’s tough to stay interested in helping others when you’re fighting off the urge to take a nap.
Like Gameloft’s other Vita efforts thus far, there’s isn’t very much to get excited about when it comes to Dungeon Hunter’s presentation. The graphics are reminiscent of a mobile game, which Dungeon Hunter was at one time, and despite the variation in locales, nearly every one relies on the same small handful of segments to create the dungeon map. Again, there’s no voice work to speak of, and though there are more than a few different enemy types, animations are set on wash, rinse, repeat from the very first foe you fight. There’s a decent score, but it certainly leaves much to be desired considering it’s the only audio in the game aside from the clashing of steel.
Gameloft once again had an opportunity to set the bar for what to expect from a genre game on the Vita, and once again they’ve set such a low standard it’s not going to take long for another title to surpass it. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is not a fun game. It’s boring. It’s repetitive. Worst of all, it’s vastly overpriced. Even though Dungeon Hunter is the only game in town, it’s certainly not a good one. Maybe one day Gameloft will get their act together. Unfortunately, today is not that day.
Release date : 2012-02-22
Publisher : Ubisoft
Developer : Gameloft
Gameplay : Action-RPG
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