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Dungeon 3 is a spiritual successor to games like Dungeon Keeper, developed by Realmforge Studios and published by Kalypso Media Digital. Dungeons 3 draw inspiration from the classic series, which originally saw release before the turn of the millennium. A management simulation title you assume the control of the dungeon overlord with a thirst for conquest and control over all.
When looking at the games settings there are a few options you can change for the title; from your evil laugh to text speed, even the frequency of the narrator’s chattiness. I turned this down after a while as he has a lot to say, especially in the campaign, he does begins to repeat the dialogue and it slowly grows irritating especially when you're in a tight spot.
The graphical options are almost none existent which tend to be typical of Xbox. While I had very little problem with frame rate drop I did have to play the title with sections of the screen cut off. I was unable to adjust the games display size which wasn't too much of an issue as you grew accustom to the buttons but when you can't quite see the button prompts picking up the game can be a little difficult.
Dungeons 3 picks up where Dungeons 2 left off. As the Dungeon Lord, you have conquered the realm but what do you do next? It’s easy to go into this title and simply start to play without quite knowing what’s going on, or how you got to where you are. Fortunately there is a video that you can watch in the “Extra section” which can give you an idea of the story before you jump in.
The story is as follows; you retreat into your personal quarters for a very long time trying to find out what you should do next. Finally emerging you have found out that a new continent awaits conquest across the ocean. The Dungeon Lord builds an army and a fleet of vessels which then set out across the vast seas only to sink...... undeterred a second fleet is constructed, bigger and better than the last! Setting out they also meet a watery end and so angered by failure the Dungeon Lord sends forward a shadow of himself which glides across to the new land beyond in search of a powerful host to help sow the seeds of evil within this new realm.
This leads me to an issue, the tutorial. While it helps to teach you the basics as any good tutorial should, from hacking out new tunnels, gathering gold, building rooms and keeping your minions happy and healthy. It does miss one huge aspect. You find it shows and teaches you very little in the way of the buttons and shortcuts needed to access menus quickly. The BEST way to learn them sadly enough is to go look at them in the options menu. It’s unclear if the developers chose not to teach you button combinations as you can change them from the controls menu but it would have been great to get an idea.
The title is split into two main parts during game play. These would be the Dungeon management side and the RTS side.
The Dungeon management section is where you build your home in the world. Normally consisting of only your dungeon heart at the start of a stage you must expand out, collect gold and making space for rooms by commanding your snots (your main workforce) to clear away walls. Once you have space and some gold you can command the snots to layout and build a room. Rooms range from a place for minions to sleep, eat and get drunk; while also creating prisons and rooms to manufacture tool boxes or traps. This is typically where you spend a lot of your time however the over-world makes reappearance in Dungeon 3 with revamped controls to make domination of the good folks above easier.
The RTS side of the game allows you a lot more depth, a much more hands on approach to controlling your workforce. Allowing player to micromanage the amount of evil you want, and need, to inflict upon the land to make the local populace fear your evil deeds.
This leads me on nicely to my last issue with this title, the AI pathing. This aspect of Dungeons 3 feels very clunky and cumbersome. Your units and the foes you fight are as happy to simply pile into the fray, rather than take up a formation that makes sense.
On more than a few occasions I found myself having to try and select my range units on the fly and pull them back a ways to try and keep them safe. The units simply hit whatever are closets to them and this means fights can become less about cleverly chosen units or out numbering, and more about plucking a unit low on HP out of the fray; dropping him a little ways away so that the NPC will target the next closest foe. I feel a little tweak would go a long way here especially on harder difficulties. Having NPC's target the softer of the units in your army such as the range units or healers would definitely make things more challenging while having your own units align themselves more cleverly would help fights feel more strategic rather than just a close quarter’s brawl of luck.
Dungeons 3 does do a good job of challenging the player, with a mixture of surprise ambushes on the over-world and attacks on the dungeon. Balancing the game becomes very enthralling and causes you to think constantly about what consequences of your actions. Sending to many units to the surface could result in an assault and potential loss of the dungeon heart while not having enough units on the surface could leave the units you send outnumbered.
The minions you spawn can level up as they see action and this result in stronger units to fight with, but if they die you lose those power houses. Of course it is important to spend time on the over world as you need evilness to upgrade your dungeon along with gold. The more villages you claim and the more wells you taint the more evilness you earn, but be careful as the good guys will sometimes try to reclaim these and loosen your hold on their lands. Your workforce are also limited, if you use to many to dig tunnels or make items then the gold supplies will dry up; but spend too much time on gold then you will find you progress slowly and can easily find yourself overrun with hero's trying their luck to destroy you.
Over all Dungeon 3 is a very well thought out title offering a great experience. It of course isn't without its short comings but does deliver on its claims of a bigger world to explore, more to do and more to think about. The game is a very well balanced dungeon simulation that would make Dungeon Keeper proud, while it is keeping you on your toes and delivering a fun and amusing game play experience. With a weird, corny and funny story to experience and procedurally generated maps for multiplayer and skirmishes, this title guarantees any lover of the genre hours of gameplay.
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