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  Dungeon Explorer: Warriors of Ancient Arts for PSP - Review

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PostSubject: Dungeon Explorer: Warriors of Ancient Arts for PSP - Review    Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:38 pm

[SIZE="5"]Dungeon Explorer [/SIZE]

Dungeon Explorer has been variously described as a "dungeon explorer" "action RPG", "Western RPG", and probably lots of things that shouldn't be read before the watershed.

Basically, you take a character levelling engine, add in a variety of environments (dungeons largely), with a standard story and you get the idea. The game features three "races" of humans, who must overcome for the forces of evil within various dungeon levels. There is more to the story than that, but really, that is all you need to know. Over the course of the game, you will fight your way through dungeons either in parties, solo, on a quest, or without a quest, collecting loot and hacking down nasty things.

The game borrows heavily from games like D&D, Diablo, Neverwinter Nights, and even classics like Golden Axe.

Utterly brilliant. No wait, utterly rubbish. If you don't like the sound of silence, turn it up a little, otherwise, you can leave it off. It isn't so much the type or style of the music, but the quality. A few times when I first started playing I thought my earplugs were faulty or not connected properly. There is no voice acting, only mood music and event driven sounds, none of it is that bad, it is just no real loss if you can't hear it.

The graphics are actually pretty good. Nothing outstanding but nothing to make you cringe either. There is no camera control but after a couple of hours, it is no problem. The cutscenes are quite nice (some use the game engine and some don't), and the general play is good. Some of the "boss" monsters could be a little sharper, but the game is several years old.

The game supports ad hoc, and I haven't tried it, but I suspect it would be great over ad hoc with a few vodka and oranges.

Initially, the game can be VERY frustrating and unduely complex. There is not a huge amount of information in the manual and some of the different elements can seem unnecessary. Plus, like a lot of games like this, you start with very little possessions, very little power, and very little options. Couple this with the annoying music, fixed camera, uninspiring early monsters, and confusing story, and it is easy to imagine that a lot of people give up on this game very quickly. Dungeon Explorer though is a game which is worth continuing with. After four or five hours, the story starts to make a little more sense, you can see your character develop, and get used to the interface.

The interface actaully deserves a special mention. The use of the sidebar with the option to cycle through options, is a great compensator for the lack of buttons available compared to a PC and the game does a good job of keeping a lot of easily accessable tasks (drinking a potion, casting a spell, performing a special task etc) .

Once you get past the difficult early stages, it is a lot of fun and a great hack'n'slash game, with a good development engine. There are six "jobs" to chose from when starting (fighter, monk, sharman, bishop, thief, hunter), and once you get (a lot) further on, you can combine jobs to get other classses like knight, ninja, bard, etc.

The dungeons are based around the "elements" (which each take the name of a planet, plus Pluto). At different parts of the story, you will encounter a "boss". Many of the bosses are like normal monsters but larger and with additional powers, but occasionally (normally dicated by the story), you will get a "superboss" and you will need to think carefully about how to even damage it. It isn't always straight-forward. Each dungeon level also have a sprinkling of "generators" which spawn monsters. You normally need to eliminate a few of these before proceeding to the next level.

There is a deep crafting system where weapons and armour can be improved in many different ways using money and the equipment that you collect from the dungeons.

There is also something called "Big Bang Arts" where through cooperation and timing, you can create joint attacks on an enemy.

This is a great game. Lack of polish, and some strange design choices seem to stop it being a classic, but it should be. It has everything you want from a "Western RPG" or "dungeon crawler", and is a lot of fun once you get past the first few hours. It has a fairly steep learning curve, but then it needs to be because there is a lot to get to grips with. I can't help feeling though that the developers missed a chance here. Clear the story up a bit, add some voice acting, give the three races more familiar names (call Olaff Orc's instead of Olaff's for example!!), explain the elements a bit more (or use earth, fire, water, lightning, etc), add an adjustable camera and it would have been an instant classic.

As it is, it is still a very good game, and one that I would definitely recommend, but it could have been a 10/10.

neon lighting
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