It's all in the name. Gameloft's Dungeon Hunter was an excellent attempt at a fully-featured loot grinder, with all the mod cons you'd expect from a retail release crunched onto a mobile format. The sequel, Dungeon Hunter 2, improves on every single aspect of its worthy predecessor as well as implementing a number of major upgrades - making it a truly superior RPG.
Just in case you're still reading and haven't already queued up the download, Dungeon Hunter 2 delivers the same full-fat experience that we know and love from the genre. Discovering that your brother has become an evil tyrant, your hero will have to delve through countless sprawling maps in the pursuit of wealth, levels and loot. And an engaging storyline, if you have the time. Myriad sidequests and massive hub-based stages allow enormous scope for freeform adventuring that goes well beyond the linear script.
3 character classes provide markedly different play styles, and 6 new specialisations create an even deeper level of customisation. A selection of streamlined skills can be used to devastating effect, and the deluge of loot provides plenty of new clobber with which to deck out your hero. Weak items can be automatically junked into gold in order to cut back on constantly micro-managing your inventory (an absolute blessing at higher levels). Witnessing your alter-ego blossom from a pathetic peasant into an untouchable powerhouse is a real thrill that's bolstered by each item being individually displayed on the character model.
The all-important control system is silky smooth and does a fine job of eliminating much of the button mashing that tends to dominate most loot grinders. The virtual thumbstick setup is preferable to the touch screen mode as you won't need to obscure the action, providing fingertip precision along with context-sensitive skill buttons that make triggering abilities a breeze even in pitched combat. A single press of the attack button initiates a continued attack against the nearest enemy, removing the need to constantly hammer it. Along with the dangers of RSI.
I'm a staunch believer in gameplay over graphics, but Dungeon Hunter 2 doesn't scrimp on the visuals. The graphics are optimised for the iPhone 4 and look an absolute treat on the retina display. Slick textures and detailed models are the order of the day. The SD version still looks good on older-gen devices, though naturally it's a fair bit jaggier. Character models and textures look fairly wooden when viewed up close, and there's no voice acting beyond the odd bit of narration, but it's still a real looker regardless of how you slice it.
Gameloft Live multiplayer is limited to 3rd generation devices or above, but it works fairly well with a couple of small grievances. The four player cooperative runs at a fair clip, with competition over loot and experience adding an extra dimension to the combat. Unfortunately you can't access areas that you haven't already visited in singleplayer, meaning that a level disadvantage can completely neuter the fun.
To be honest, there isn't much wrong with Dungeon Hunter 2. An odd audio glitch occasionally stops weapon and spell effects from registering properly (though I'm reliably informed that this is on a case-by-case basis), and the aforementioned multiplayer restrictions stop cooperative crawls from being as immersive as they ought to be. Another minor nitpick is that the inventory screens force players to obscure the item lists with their thumb in order to scroll through them... and an on-screen map would have been nice... but the fact that I'm reaching for problems ought to demonstrate the quality of the experience on offer.
Sure, there's a lot of grinding and directionless exploring - but that's what we want from a dungeon crawler! I can't mark it down for that.
- Everything you'd expect from a full-price retail RPG
- Slick controls
- Massive replayability factor
- Awkward multiplayer restrictions
- Occasional audio glitches
- Dangerously addictive?
Summary: Dungeon Hunter 2 is an exceptional RPG that's perfect for quick toilet breaks or marathon sessions. Great graphics, deep gameplay and smooth controls conspire to create a mobile masterpiece that punches well above its price bracket.
Compatibility:Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.1.2 or later. Optimised for iPhone 4.
Price: £3.99 App Store Link