Written by  :  Kasey Chang (4631)
Written on  :  Apr 13, 2001

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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Technically a hands-OFF RTS, this is a true genre-bender

The Good

The multiple aspects of play, as you have to mix resource planning (manage both gold and mana), construction (all the different places), creature management, and even some occasionally first-person shooting. Playing EVIL is also a lot of fun, as you play the "good guy" in just too many games. Laying out traps and defenses is also a lot of fun. The multiple ways to gain a larger army are really cool.

The Bad

The hands-off aspect of the game can sometimes be very frustrating, until you get the "Call to Arms" spell, which calls EVERY one of your creatures to rally at the flag, even if it's in enemy territory. Then you realize this calls EVERY creature, leaving you NO defense at all... You also can't control what creatures to get, at least not directly. It also requires a lot of personal micro-management for optimum efficiency, when you really just want to play.

The Bottom Line

Dungeon Keeper 2 IS a very unique real-time game. In some way, it's like an RTS game, as you build structures and get units. On the other hand, a limit on the number of creatures you can get per "portal" means you may have to "recruit" other units via other means, such as torture/conversion. Rushing is not really an option when you can train your creatures to higher experience levels. You also only build the structures, and hopefully attract the creatures you want, as different creatures like different structures. Building a good defensible dungeon is important as trap laying becomes very important when most of your creatures are off fighting.

Resource management is crucial, as gold is a limited resource, while mana regenerates over time. As you must pay your creatures, you do not have unlmited time to build up a huge army (nor can you, as portals are limited). Mana can be used up in many different ways, from creating imps and throwing thunderbolts to call your creatures to battle and recon the surrounding terrain.

However, the game is much more than just an RTS with a 3D engine. You can actually possess one of your creatures, thus gaining all of its abilities, including special talents and even some creature spells. Possess a warlock, and you can cast fireballs. Possess a dark elf, and you can use the "sniper" bow. This is the only "true" way to "lead" an army, and is actually a LOT of fun. You CAN win without doing this, but it's a lot easier to win by doing so.

The game also rewards micromanagement. Cast heal spells during the battle can turn the tide. Move the imps from one area to another will "reschedule" their priority. Slap a creature and it'll get a temporary increase in speed/morale (at the expense of a little health). Converting enemy units are not easy as they often die in your torture chamber if you don't keep an eye on their health.

You can play DK2 like a regular RTS, but you'll be sorely disappointed. Better enjoy it for what it is: a true multi-genre cross-over product that is worth getting to see what kind of creativity game designers have when they go for the games.