Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is the Diablo style Action RPG announced at last year’s E3 press conference. Despite sharing a name with the successful iOS game, this was not a simple port. Dungeon Hunter: Alliance was built to use the extra assets of the Playstation 3 and scratch the dungeon crawling itch of many Playstation gamers. If you, like me, have been waiting for a game like this to finally hit the PSN, then you’ll be pleased to know the Dungeon Hunter delivers, but it doesn’t always live up to its own potential.

The story begins with your character being resurrected by a fairy. You play as the former king, who died 25 years ago. There is a great evil sweeping the kingdom, and at the throne is your queen, who is evil. It is about as cliché as it gets and because of that the story is relatively unimportant. There are a few scattered conversations with NPC’s talking about fairy’s and such, but it all boils down to go here, or lets fight. The end of the game is much more story heavy, but by that point it is too late to pull you into it in any meaningful way.

Luckily the gameplay itself is tight. Hacking away at enemies can begin to feel tedious during extended play periods, but developing your character and gathering tons of loot do a good job of keeping things interesting. There are only three character classes available, but each class has its varying strengths and a deep skill selection. The warrior is you classic tank style class that excels in defense and damage dealing, rogues can dual wield daggers, but are most dangerous at range with a bow and when planting traps, and the mage is all about hitting hard with a variety of spells. Each class has four attributes: strength, dexterity, endurance, and energy, as well as 21 unique skills. Dungeon Hunter is good about dealing out experience points at a good rate, it doesn’t fell like it is leveling you too quickly, but you are never forced to grind for XP. Add to that the hundreds of pieces of loot dropped from enemies and it all makes for a very rewarding experience.

When you run into a tough boss or simply get bored of playing by yourself you can have players join in via drop in/drop out co-op. You can have up to four players on one console, or any combination of four online. The three classes compliment each other well making the co-op experience rewarding. A diverse group will make you better prepared for any situation. Just don’t expect the co-op to be a cake walk, the game will scale up in difficulty for each additional player. Online also supports leaderboards that will show the best heroes in categories such as fastest to certain levels, most money, most kills, and overall best character.

Playstation Move support was something that Gameloft put a great deal of focus on and it is very well implemented. Using the Move controller allows you to play more like traditional PC dungeon crawlers. Aiming in a direction and holding the trigger will move your character in that direction. The Move button is used as the action button and your skills are tied to the same buttons as a traditional controller. Dungeon Hunter is one of the few instances where neither control style is better than the other. It comes down to which style you are more comfortable with, though no doubt PC oriented players will enjoy the more mouse like control of the Move controller.

Dungeon Hunter features some good looking visuals, but it is the Gothic inspired art style that truly stands out. It is very reminiscent of Torchlight, with its colorful and cartoonish look. From the large castle interiors, to the crypts and sewers, there is a very well defined style. Though areas such as caves or thick forests seem a bit bland in comparison. The ambient music goes well with the various other background sounds, and the music really kicks in during the larger battles and boss fights to give them a more epic feel.

One of the major issues with Dungeon Hunter is that it often resorts to a copy and paste level 8design. If you ever have the feeling that you’ve seen a room before, you likely passed through it just a few minutes ago. This is made worse by the fact that Gameloft doesn’t even try to hide this poor design. There are instances where you will pass through repeat areas in succession, right down to the enemy spawns. This makes Dungeon Hunter feel like a lower quality title than it is. Considering the care put into the rest of the game, there is no reason why there could not be more variety in level design, or at least make the repetition less obvious. It is one of the few aspects of the game obviously carried over from its iOS roots.

Other issues include a slight, but noticeable drop in framerate once a third and fourth player have joined. There are also a few issues with online play, including an issue with joining games. Upon reaching the character select screen after attempting to join a game, you are forced to repeatedly press the X button in order to join the game. Failing to do so or failure to press fast enough will result in receiving an error message stating that the game is no longer available. We also experienced game freezes while changing areas online that will lock up the entire console. These issues will likely be addressed in a future patch, but until then the multiplayer is a bit broken.

Dungeon Hunter: Alliance is a sometimes great downloadable game that takes a few missteps. Developing your character and playing in co-op with the limited yet diverse selection of classes will keep you occupied for hours at a time as you power you way through dungeons searching for the best loot. None of the aforementioned missteps are enough to ruin the experience completely, but it’s enough to scare off a few of the on the fence crowd. Its biggest problem is that it fails to be the game it can and should be, but there is more than enough content to keep any die hard dungeon crawler happy. If you’ve got the itch, Dungeon Hunter: Alliance can scratch it.



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