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|God Games, Dungeon Games, Games Like Rimworld, Games Like Black and White, Dungeon Keeper Series
There are only a few developers that have the ability to make the entire staff of PC go all gooey whenever they demo a new product. Obviously iD has an uncanny ability to do clever things from time to time, but Bullfrog has developed this ludicrous knack of making any new project a damn sight more impressive than anything they've done before. In the past we've obviously gone bananas over the likes of Theme Park and Magic Carpet, and only last month, dearest Macca spooged all over Magic Carpet 2: Hidden Worlds and gave it 92 per cent. To say that Dungeon Keeper looks a bit smart would be something of an understatement. When we originally had the thing demo'd to us a couple of months ago there was a seriously sad situation where three of us sat in front of a pc watching Peter Molyneux playing the game -and we all looked as though we were about to start dribbling.
Unlike many titles that we look at these days, this is one of the few occasions where we can honestly say that this game is totally unlike any other. Wow. Doesn't happen often. This is great for you as games players but for me, to write a preview about it, means I can't really compare it to anything else. So I'll just describe it.
Okay... so you've got this dungeon right. And you happen to be the dungeon keeper, the boss-man, the head honcho, the top-dog, the man with a plan, the... you get the picture. Now the basic idea of the game is that you have to run this dungeon as a practical and on-going business. As you'd expect in mythical fantasy land, or wherever it is that all this takes place, the existence of a dungeon attracts all manner of heroes to have a crack at nicking the treasure that's inevitably hidden at the centre. So, as well as running your dungeon, you also have to make sure that all the heroes get killed off in the most horrible way possible so that you can hang onto your goodies.
The game starts with you looking at a very simple map of the catacombs. You have a room where all your mana (like the stuff in Magic Carpet) is stored (this is your 'treasure'), a room where magical monsties can be formed, a library where the more intelligent creatures can go and study new spells and stuff, and finally you have a door. Pretty important this, as it's here that the heroes enter the dungeon and it's also where the creatures that you hire from Monsties 'R' Us will trundle in from.
Okay, that's the physical stuff out of the way, but there's more. The whole thing doesn't just stay like this you see. Although you only start off with a petite and bijou dungeonette you can add new rooms and corridors to the map by employing the services of imps who act as construction workers. Obviously though, you can only add rooms if you have enough money - and this is where the resource management aspect of the game comes in. At the beginning of the game you have a predetermined amount of money and mana to 'spend' in order to make your dungeon as nasty and 'orrible as possible. Mana points determine the ambient magical temperature of your dungeon and this determines what kinds of weird and wonderful creatures you can summon to defend the place.
Although things start off with fairly boring and mundane impy, demony monsties, you soon find that you can summon some nasty bastards. By collecting the souls of dead heroes you'll soon have enough loopy juice to summon up wizards, vampires, ghouls, ghosts and weird horrible fat, slobby, sweaty things.
The aim of the game is basically to keep your dungeon running while expanding and earning more money and mana. Bog standard trolls and goblins need to be kept happy by allowing them to feed and sleep (as well as paying them a wage) while magical creatures need to be sustained in other ways. And that's it... it's sort of a bit like being the dungeon master in the old tabletop D&D games but with lots of fancy bits thrown in as well.
Flashy bits from Bullfrog
Okay, so in theory it's all hunky-dory and wonderful. It's a nice twist on the old tabletop D&D thang, but it is all rather flash. Rather than a boring and completely mundane top-down scrolling map layout. Dungeon Keeper makes use of one of the flashiest, and yes, downright sexy graphics engines you've ever seen.
Based loosely on the forthcoming Syndicate Wars graphics system, the main part of Dungeon Keeper comprises a scrolling texture-mapped polygon environment that can be rotated and twisted around in order to be viewed from any angle. For added flashiness the system makes use of Bullfrog's impressive light-sourcing system which not only gives damn spectacular looking 'glowy bits' wherever there's a burning torch, but also casts 'real' shadows. Coo.
That's not all though. Oh no. Not satisfied with just having one really smart looking graphics engine, the team has put another one in as well. You see, if you don't think that one of your creatures is doing a particularly good job of looking after itself you can actually enter its body and view the world from its eyes. The resulting view makes use of one of the most impressive 3D graphics engines you've ever seen. Imagine Magic Carpet, but better, and with a lid on the top so that it's all enclosed and dungeon-like (odd that, innit?). Every creature is 'simulated' effectively so if you're 'in' a dirty great big stonking monster your view of the world changes accordingly.
If you possess a spider you crawl along the ground, if you possess a fly you nip around just like you do in Magic Carpet. Cool-ola or what?
As we go to press there is still a lot of work being done on Dungeon Keeper. The bulk of the graphics work is virtually complete but there are a lot of features under discussion that are yet to be implemented. While speaking to both Simon Carter (the lead programmer on the project) and Peter Molyneux (the producer, and top-dog at Bullfrog) we learnt that the multiplayer features of the game WL are still under development. It seems that the final version of the game will be able to be played as both a network game and as an Internet-based game. Fine, fair enough... so what?
Ah, well there's a clever bit, you see. Not only can you play as either a hero or a dungeon keeper in the multi-player version, but you can also allow your pc to 'learn' how you play. This means that if you are playing with a group on the Internet and, say, your mum/partner screams bloody murder about how your tea has been ready for several days now and is still going cold on the table, you can log-off but actually leave your dungeon up and running. However, rather than just sitting there as a big empty dungeon, the ai will be smart enough to continue to play the game, just like you would. Wow. Think about it. It's scary. If you tend to summon up lots of wizards and then protect them with goblins, the computer will continue to play in this way until you take over again at a later date. Is that just way beyond clever or what?
Despite the fact that Dungeon Keeper is not actually finished yet, Bullfrog has high hopes for the next few weeks of production and is aiming to get the game in the shops before Christmas. As long as all goes according to plan we'll be able to bring you a full review of this new title next month along with an extremely special, unmissable Bullfrog competition. Rest assured, you want to buy next month's mag because we're going to be giving away a prize unlike anything you've ever seen before.
Download Dungeon Keeper
For Those Of those you who've slogged hours into Red Alert 3, and consider it the pinnacle of modern strategy games, I say this: up yours. Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 were the pinnacle of original strategy development You bossed a bunch of creatures around who would mostly follow your orders, be it your mindless, ever-working imps, or the creatures that you lured into your dungeon by creating fun and addictive things for them to do.
Said creatures would protect your gold mines and the heart of your dungeon from destruction by heroic types in return for sanctuary. The innovation mostly came from you lacking any immediate control over your forces beyond making them happy, combining the usual RTS resource hunting with a degree of creaturecomforting and micromanagement. Both games were rather pretty - Dungeon Keeper 2 in a more classical way because of its crisp, 3D graphics, but Dungeon Keeper was made by Bullfrog's excellent art team. The games' challenge became protecting your base while attracting bigger and badder creatures - including Horny, the most destructive (and irritable) demon around. This horned beast would walk through your dungeon, killing other creatures and imps, or sometimes just sitting in the corner and pouting. The upshot of having him around was that he'd happily wade into battle, and leave a pile of rotting corpses behind him.
Dungeon Keeper and Dungeon Keeper 2 were both beautiful, addictive and humourous games. It's a big shame that most of Bullfrog have dispersed into the ether, as we'll never see anything like it - apart from the brilliant Evil Genius, but that didn't sell enough copies to earn itself a sequel. You disgust us, modern PC gamers who don't read this magazine.
Dungeon Keeper Represents A Triumph of creative endeavour over marketing muscle. A bunch of imbeciles in marketing wanted it released over a year ago, but Peter Molyneux and his team have stuck in there and carried on programming to ensure the game measures up to their own expectations. And now, finally, it's ready for release. Dungeon Keeper, the most anticipated game in Bullfrog's history, has reached the end of its notoriously prolonged gestation period. And it rules.
The underground movement
The game itself is a definite genre-buster. It's kind of like playing every Bullfrog game ever released, plus three or four new ones, all at once. In fact, it's an absolute bastard to describe. Trying to fit the game into an easy-to-comprehend pigeonhole is a bit like trying to stuff a live horse in your mouth - it just won't go. The best way to summarise it would be to imagine playing a three-dimensional hybrid of Command & Conquer and SimCity 2000, in which you can actually 'become' one of the little munchkins that run around your ever-evolving landscape. There are also obvious parallels with Theme Park, but then there are equally obvious parallels with Populous, Archon and Ultima Underworld, too. And as a multi-player game, it's a cross between all of these and Spy Us Spy as well. It sounds complicated, and when you consider the sheer number of disparate elements at work here, it is - yet the underlying principles are simple enough that you can pick up them after about 20 minutes play. To describe it as a masterpiece of game design is no exaggeration.
Here's the deal. You, mister player sir, are cast in the role of 'Dungeon Keeper' - that is, you're the evil overlord who runs the subterranean dens so often encountered in RPG titles. As the game opens you gaze out across a sickeningly green and pleasant province, a blissful utopia populated by contented peasants, ruled by benevolent, honourable Lords. Your task is to convert it into a land of dark, nightmarish brutality and unimaginable torment, over which you may rule mercilessly forever more. Each time you complete a level, that section of the map is transformed from lush green forestry to toxic eyesore. Digging underground tunnels in order to destroy the environment? Perhaps they should have called it 'All Hail The Anti-Swampy'.
Attempting to explain all of Dungeon Keeper's elements in detail would be futile; we simply don't have the space. Check out the step-by-step walkthrough of level one (a tutorial level) on the following page for a glimpse at the (very) basics. Your objective in each stage is basically the same: to defeat everyone and everything else. At some point in each level, the 'Lord of the Realm' will enter the playing area, intent on destroying your subterranean playpen. Defeat him (and any rival dungeoneers while you're at it) and you can proceed to the next stage. And just in case you think that all sounds a little 'samey', here's a timely 'information belch' for you to consider. It's jam-packed with Dungeon Keeper statistics. See if you can swallow it all in one go...
There are 13 different types of 'room' in the game (14 if you count bridges), each of which serves a totally unique strategic function. You can cast 16 different kinds of spell and plant six different varieties of booby-trap. There are four different makes of door to protect yourself with. Your dungeon may be populated by any combination of the 17 different available monsters, each of which has its own unique set of characteristics (right down to individual blood types), appropriate first-person viewpoint, and access to a range of spells (24 in total) entirely separate from those available to you yourself. During a given level, you could end up under assault from any number of rival Dungeon Keepers (and their hordes), or from any of the 13 different 'heroes' -humans who try to vanquish you - who may (if you've built a Torture Chamber) be 'converted' to your cause and command. Dead creatures may be eaten by others, or (if you have one) dragged to the graveyard where they may rise as ghosts, skeletons or vampires. And last but not least, if you wish, you can play an entire level from the point of view of any one of your creatures, leaving the planning, building, wargaming and resource management side of things to the 'Computer Assistant' player (which mimics your personal playing 'style' as closely as possible). You want depth? It's right here, sunshine.
It's not bad at all
Sounds too much to cope with? Quit your fretting, you big wuss. The learning curve has been worked out quite brilliantly, with the first handful of stages being simplistic tutorials which ease you into the game with the minimum amount of bewilderment. By the time you reach level five - which is where the game really starts to open up - you'll be confidently thinking you're an expert. And how very wrong you'll be, because there's still absolutely loads to learn.
Dungeon Keeper is a game of continual discovery and hitherto unprecedented depth. Technically stunning, visually dazzling (although it does bitmap pretty badly when you get up close), hopelessly addictive - need I continue any further? Nope. Didn't think so. Just don't thank the imbeciles in marketing. If they'd had their way, it would have been released over a year ago in an unfinished form. This kind of complex, balanced gameplay takes time to perfect. And it's well worth it.
After long delays, Bullfrog has shipped Dungeon Keeper, its action/strategy game that turns the traditional heroic good-guy nonsense on its head. This time, you're the chief bad dude and, man, does that mean you're in for some fun.
Build an Evil Emperie
In this world-building strategy game, you're the Dungeon Keeper, controller of a labyrinth that houses, feeds, and trains evil denizens. Spiders, trolls, beetles, dragons, and ores are just some of the creatures lured into your service by your wealth as a small army of imps dig out the dirt, mining gold as they go.
Typically, heroes come sniffing after your gold, and once you defeat them, the Lord of the Land is alerted and soon arrives on your doorstep, ready to get hammered by your minions. As the levels progress, up to three other Dungeon Keepers vie for resources and creatures.
DK's multiplayer action isn't radically different from other real-time strategy games. You compete for resources, build your dungeon, and manage troops--but it s the subject matter that makes for great fun as, for example, an enemy's star creature is thrown, whining miserably, into your torture chamber and turned to your side.
See All That You Create
Thirty levels are augmented by five tutorial scenarios that introduce the varied creatures, rooms, spells, and strategies. As you advance, the higher levels maintain the challenge with five hidden worlds to uncover.
You can rotate the 3D isometric view to see every angle, but it takes practice. Small menu tabs use icons to represent room types, spells, and the number of each type of monster under your control.
As each individual creature can be trained up to the tenth level, there's plenty of information and action to follow. You can even enter each monster's head to view the dungeon from a first-person perspective. Blocky graphics in low-res don't help, so playing on a machine powerful enough to run DK in hi-res (Pentium 133) is highly recommended. Strong audio with both atmospheric music and the clanking sound effects of battle is pretty effective.
At's Fun To Be Bad
Dungeon Keeper has tremendous depth that will easily keep you locked away for hours on end. Little humorous touches, the way creatures suffer varied torture, and the sheer fun of being the bad guy for a change add up to a hugely entertaining game.
- Defend this Dungeon Heart by building workshops to create doors and traps, which halt the heroes' progress.
- Build rooms of at least nine tiles to attract creatures. The bigger the room, the greater the attraction, so design dungeons with a mind to increase their size.
- Use the map in the top left comer to watch the white dots which represent heroes... then send your army of minions to crush them.
- As you build rooms, don't fill every square--it's a waste of your money. Only build rooms big enough to suit your creatures' needs.
- Use the Hand icon to grab and move creatures. A right mouse click gives them a swift backhander to motivate them to work harder.
Dungeon Keeper turns the tables on RPG fans with a one-player action/strategy game that puts you in the shoes of a dungeon keeper who must guard his treasure from marauding "good" guys.
Armed with 16 spells and 16 monsters, you place your menagerie of critters strategically to fend off treasure hunters while working to pepper your dungeons with more and more deathtraps. Texture-mapped graphics let you peer into the dim corridors from a first- or third-person perspective and rotate everything for a better view.
In Dungeon Keeper, you play the bad guy for a change. As a nasty sorcerer, you must guard your treasure, which you hoard and store in a dark, dank dungeon. When adventurers try to claim your treasure, you can modify your dungeon with traps and send out legions of monsters to defend your wealth.
Fully rotational texture mapping and light sourcing lend an appropriately creepy atmosphere to the dungeon visuals. Playable across a network for up to eight people, Dungeon Keeper lets one player assume the sorcerer's role as seven others try to rob the goods.
Welcome to the game where it's good to be bad. A few years ago Bullfrog introduced a unique game called Dungeon Keeper that scored well with gamers and critics alike, and they've followed up with another winner that has a couple of surprises tossed in for good measure.
Like its predecessor, you're an overlord in the gloomy underworld trying to make the evilest dungeon around in the hopes of attracting a few unsavory sorts. You get to prove you're the nastiest rat in the outhouse by strategically dropping your army in the midst of battles or taking over one of your minions and bludgeoning a few goodly folks yourself. Your ultimate mission is to overthrow King Reginald, who is in control of the Sunlight Kingdom aboveground. To accomplish this, you will battle the sickening forces of Good with the help of your horned reapers and the portal gems you collect along the way.
Gameplay, Controls, Interface
Gameplay was great in the previous game, but they've made it even better. The game takes you through the early stages at a leisurely pace, introducing you to the ins and outs of each room you can create, the monsters and the spells you research. Newcomers get the scoop on the minimum size a room should be, the type of creatures it attracts and any gotchas involved with building it in various spots. Once again your cursor is the Hand of Evil, which you can use to pick up your monsters, cast spells, build rooms or direct your imps to dig. If your imps aren't working hard enough, you can slap them to get them moving. One of the changes this time around is that when you drop a monster it will be momentarily stunned, so it's usually a good idea to drop them a little way away from the action. The old monsters are still around, chumming with some new ones like the Black Knights, Dark Angels and Dark Elves. Once you've attracted some monsters you need to keep them happy by building them a lair, a hatchery, and by having plenty of gold on hand for payday. The monsters usually aren't too picky about the facilities, but at times you have to be careful and build separate lairs as some of the monsters don't get along with each other.
One of the things that separates this game from other real-time strategy games is that you can possess your creatures so that you can see everything from first-person perspective like Quake. It's even more interesting this time around because some of the levels depend on you possessing a creature and performing a task -- for example, becoming a sniper and using a Dark Elf's incredible eyesight and crossbow to assassinate a guard before he can warn of the coming invasion. There are also some cool new traps like the cannon and the spikes, although your creatures sometimes stupidly get trapped in them and die.
One of the complaints with the original Dungeon Keeper was that it only ran in software mode and it took Bullfrog a long time to come out with a 3D patch. You won't hear these complaints make another round because the Bullfrog development team has made excruciating efforts to make some of the best graphics around. You can view your dungeon from almost every imaginable angle, as well as zooming in and checking out the action close up. The detail you will see when zoomed in is incredible and you won't realize what you're missing when you're in the default level of zoom. A good illustration of this is in the torture chamber. I recommend throwing a goodly hero or two on the racks or in the electric chair and then zooming in to appreciate the fireworks. The minions also look very real in their day-to-day tasks like training, studying in the library or chowing down on a few chickens. In between missions, Bullfrog threw in some hilarious animation cuts that introduce various characters and their affection towards abusing chickens.
The narrator who was used last time had a deep baritone voice that could describe the horribleness of good with just the right pitch and he's back for a second helping, setting the mood before each mission. The sounds in the game will impress you no matter what, but if you have a rockin' sound card then you'll be immersed in the goodies they've thrown in, like the realistic sounds of the doors and traps and the pitiful moans coming from the prisoners in your torture chamber. The tracks they've included are a cut above most games and you can tell they spent a lot of thought on what to use and where to use it. For example, if you chuck one of your minions in the electric chair you hear the track 'burn, baby, burn!'
The minimum system requirements are Windows 95 or Windows 98 (unfortunately, it doesn't work on NT -- I tried), a 166MHz or faster Pentium class CPU, 300 MB hard drive space plus space for saved games and DirectX installation, 32 MB RAM, a high-color capable 2 MB PCI or AGP video card with DirectDraw support and a 4X CD-ROM drive.
If you're tired of real-time strategy games seeming all the same and you're in the mood for something a little different, Dungeon Keeper II fills the bill with ghastly grace. The game carries a Mature rating from the Entertainment Software Rating Board for a good reason and is definitely not for children. Aside from that, the only people who I predict will dislike this game are folks who feel strongly about Political Correctness; otherwise, run to your nearest store and throw this brute into your shopping cart.
Pots of gold and sparkling gems lure every hero to forge the dark passageways beneath their quiet towns. Sure, a sharp sword and shiny armor may have made you a hero in the past, but now the tables are surely turning. In Dungeon Keeper, you will now have the chance to stop the forces of Good from pillaging and keep all the riches, creatures and power to yourself. After all, how hard can it be to stop a few sword-wielding, tin-can-wearing, pumped-up warriors, wizards, and general do-gooders? Personally, I welcome the chance to fight for the dark side.
Bullfrog has done an excellent job of immersing you in the role of the Dungeon Keeper. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it. Peter Molyneux and the rest of the Bullfrog team have been teasing us with Dungeon Keeper for two years. It was worth the wait.
You begin far beneath a happily slumbering town, in an area only an imp could love. Here, you create a dungeon any self-respecting monster would kill its kin to live, work and fight for.
Dungeon Keeper offers a variety of tools to make your job easier. Fourteen different rooms range from the necessary lairs to let your tired minions sleep it off, to a Hatchery where farm-raised chickens offer a meal even the dragons feast on. First and foremost, of course, is the treasure room to store all the gold and jewels your imps mine. Twelve kinds of traps and doors to deter the best society throws down to you, ranging from the mundane locked wooden door to a lightning trap that incinerates all but the toughest outsiders.
Using your Hand of Evil (a cursor similar to the one used in Populous), you lay out your basic structures by selecting available tiles of earth. Your trusty imps, the work force of the dungeon, begin digging and constructing rooms to your liking. Remember, if you feel the monsters are not working hard enough, don't be afraid to give them a big swat to hurry them along.
Each room you create is the size and shape you deem necessary. There are no fixed size rooms to simply plop down on a flat piece of grassland. As always, each layout must be constructed with offense, defense and accessibility in mind. Unique rooms such as the torture chamber, graveyard, prison and temple add variety to each level. There's nothing like a good sacrifice to the gods at the Temple, especially if they reward you with an even nastier denizen to train.
After creating a formidable dungeon where even Diablo himself would be happy to reside, you must dig out the Portal through which hordes of monsters will enter your Keep. Each of these eighteen different monsters, ranging from the easily crushable Beetle to the Horned Demon himself, comes exquisitely detailed in SVGA graphics and personalities to match. This is where the Bullfrog team really showed the stuff that made past titles such as Theme Hospital, Populous and Magic Carpet so popular. Flies and beetles have an obvious distaste for each other and will break into battle if left alone too long. The vampires strive for dark sections of the dungeon or are simply content to wander their graveyard. The gaseous, pot-bellied Bile Demons offer an excellent first wave of attack by spewing stink clouds, but can also be useful if put to work alongside a Troll in the workshop, creating boulder traps and nearly impenetrable magic doors.
Each level pits you and your minions against either another Keeper, muscling in on your turf, or those pesky heroes from above. Kill your enemies and build the strongest keep you can, and you will conquer the land.
The manual provided with the game is an excellent reference guide that doesn't even need to be cracked until later levels. The game's tutorial does an excellent job teaching the young Keeper and allowing him to jump right into the game after installation.
Initially, some real-time strategy veterans may be turned off by not having an adjustment for game speed, but after playing through the first few levels you will soon learn the fun of scrambling to the front lines and won't feel the need to slow down the action. More troubling, though, is the absence of a difficulty adjustment. Dungeon Keeper's option page offers no way to make your second romp through the game any more difficult than the first.
Graphics and Design
Character statistics border on ridiculous, with everything from an individual name and happiness factor for each minion, to their respective blood types. Perhaps this level of detail is offered to each of your creatures because you have the ability to actually possess any of your followers. After casting a Possession spell, you, the Keeper, are placed directly into the creature's body, free to walk through your dungeon and view it from their perspective. A first-person 3D view, not as rich as Quake's but still breathtaking, is given and you are free to walk through your hallways adorned with Aztec statues and torches, or perhaps you will just stop by the Hatchery to munch a chicken. If you find your way to a battle or start one yourself, you can actually make a significant difference by casting spells yourself and slashing the enemy one-on-one. While not the main part of the game, it is nice to step off your throne and view the world from a skeleton or warlock's perspective.
This game truly shows how breaking the Warcraft and C&C mold by offering style and playability, still rivaling the best of the genre, can make an excellent real-time strategy game. As you conquer town after town, you begin to see more unique twists and turns that have been carefully placed into the game to unfold as you play. The game is deep (no pun intended).
Sounds are great, and the narrator's eerie voice is cast perfectly. The sounds from each monster vary depending on his task at hand, and the battle cries are bloodcurdling.
At this time, there is no IPX/Internet support. Patches may soon follow, but as of now, players must be content with the levels dealt and use Kali to find opponents. Editor's note: make sure you pick a smaller map if you're only playing against a single opponent, unless you have a full day to kill. We got into some 6-hour stalemates around the GameFabrique offices by accidentally starting off on an enormous map and not actually running into the other guy until about 2 a.m.
Required: Intel Pentium or 100% compatible, 16 MB RAM, MS-DOS 6.22 or Windows 95, 65+MB hard disk space, 4X CD-ROM drive, SVGA graphics card, SoundBlaster or 100% compatible sound card
None of these gripes alter my perspective on this long-awaited game, truly a classic. Any real-time gamer with a yearning for the dungeon life and the nerve to slaughter an army of Monks, Fairies and Lords will be pleasantly surprised with Dungeon Keeper. How can you not want to wreak havoc underneath towns called Cozyton?