PC REVIEW: DUNGEON LORDS

Imagine an old-school RPG with loads of action and dungeon crawling without any asinine anime kids with their sissy tales of woe. With Dungeon Lords it's treasures, monsters and slicing and dicing all the way - just like it was in the good old days.

Dungeon Lords is an unapologetic throwback to the early days of dungeon crawling. It's rough, raunchy and fun. Of course others may just see this as a Lord of the Rings rip-off. I must admit that the storyline is certainly generic in terms of the save-the-fantasyland-from-the-evil-wizard premise. It's rife with elves, dwarves, goblins, dragons and fighting skeletons. Still, it kind of feels like home. I'm just so happy that I don't have to interact with animated 12-year olds that maybe I've lost my objectivity. Maybe I've lost my mind. I don't care. Just hand me my enchanted blade and get the #%+* out of my way!

With so many class choices and ways to upgrade your character's attributes, it's beyond the scope of this review to examine all these features. If you think I'm going to play this game with every possible character class combination and upgrade, you'll be waiting several hundred years for the completion of this review. There's too many combinations. Suffice to say that you should be familiar with how character upgrades work. There are many of them which allow you an incredible array of customizing options but you have to be mindful of which skills work well with others. It may be nice to have magic spells but they aren't going to be very effective if you slap them on a full-fledged warrior.

Wandering around towns, villages and the woodlands you will constantly be goaded into combat. Enemies swarm you as you slash your way through the thickening hordes. The controls are responsive, if not a little sluggish at times. The enemy can actually inflict harm on their own kind so you will want to take advantage of that and move around strategically as they slash away at each other.

A magic potion will regain some of your health. Or you can come back from the dead for a small price. At the end of every fight there are prizes to be collected. It's what drives you to look for more confrontations.

As with most of old RPGs there is no getting away from tedious wandering. There are many side missions requiring you to find certain items and characters. You'll talk to NPCs that will give you some info here that there but there is plenty of down time. You've got to take the good with the bad.

The game claims there is an automap but there isn't one. Just so you know. It's very easy to get lost in some of the larger dungeons. It does come with a printed Overworld map and an onscreen compass. You'll still get lost but at least you can look for landmarks to get your bearings. The game also claims that you can change your character's appearance but that doesn't work either. Check the game's website for regular downloads and patches.

Some aspects of the graphics look incredible and some are downright despicable. The more processing your PC can handle the better the game will look although there are still some major inconsistencies between the characters and some background textures. The characters are fluid and imaginative while some environments are drab and low res which really highlights the boredom of seemingly endless wandering. The game is longer than it should be but you don't really know that until you're finished since you're always hoping that what you're looking for is around the next corner.

The biggest problem with Dungeon Lords is that despite all the different combinations you may not want to play it again due to the long, boring periods.

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System: PC
Pub: DreamCatcher
Dev: Heuristic Park
Release: May 2005
Review By Fenix
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.5
GRAPHICS
3.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.5