Dungeon Keeper 2
I've got a job to do. I'm here to see Dungeon Keeper 2, the follow up to - duhhh - Dungeon Keeper 1, one of the most complex and controversial strategy games of all time. Complex because it was an ambitious, sprawling, multi-layered, multi-genre title with unusually elegant gameplay, and controversial because while some people loved it (myself included), others derided it as a repetitive, plodding game with an outdated graphics engine. My job is to find out whether the sequel's going to be any good or not. I leave the station and get into a cab.
Inside A Building On A Business Park
Within moments of arriving at Bullfrog's shiny HQ, I'm led to a small, neat conference room and supplied with a mug of instant coffee (a vending machine approximation of cappuccino courtesy of Maxwell House). I take a seat at the table. An impressively huge (and flat) LCD screen occupies most of the wall in front of me. I blink. My eyes are burning from lack of sleep.
Dungeon Keeper 2 producer Nick Goldsworthy prods a touch-screen panel, the lights in the room start to dim and the screen comes alive. It's like a scene in a Bond movie. Except instead of a map of the world, the screen is filled with the imposing form of Dungeon Keeper's horned reaper - or Horny, as they persist in calling him.
I'm being shown an impressive FMV sequence created for the game by a French computer animation company previously responsible for some of the eye-popping 'sky traffic' scenes in The Fifth Element (the movie, not the game, dum-dum). It's good. It cheers me up a little. Then Goldsworthy fires up the game itself. TVventy minutes later, I realise I've been gawking so hard at the images on the screen I've forgotten all about my coffee, which is now stone cold. I've been gawking so hard because Dungeon Keeper 2 looks fantastic.
Goblins Dance Before Me
The main difference, the first thing that hits you, is how much better the creatures look now that they've been upgraded from pre-rendered sprites to polygonal models. It isn't just that they now sit more comfortably with their 3D surroundings, they also benefit k from lighting effects, they cast shadows, and they display far smoother animation than before. Everything looks crisper, dearer, and faintly more disgusting. Even the dungeon heart, the source of all your power, looks like a 'proper' organ. You feel you could reach into the screen, poke it, and get an eyeful of goo spurted back at you in return. Lovely.
Nick loads up a thriving dungeon and starts to demonstrate some of the other new features. He drops a troll into a casino room. It starts gambling. He drops a pair of monsters into a combat pit and they stan leathering one another. As the fight progresses, a crowd of onlookers begins to gather - other creatures, hearing the commotion, have come to have a look.
An enemy - a hero - wanders into the dungeon and is spotted by an imp, which becomes visibly startled. It scuttles away. We follow it down a corridor. The imp runs into another room and raises a crowd of tougher beasts. They storm away in the direction of the hero, thirsty for battle.
First-person mode next. Nick possesses a firefly and starts to buzz around. The screen splits into a honeycomb viewpoint - flies have comPound- eyes, after all. As a fly, he's got nasty little teeth; he chomps at a passing chicken to prove how well they work. Meanwhile, countless other beasts are wandering around, going about their business. A set of imps are busy tunnelling through a section of nearby rock. A Bile Demon drags himself by with a nonchalant grunt. It's all quite captivating.
You're left with the impression that you're seeing a thriving, organic community, full of life and character, and humour and nastiness. This was always one of the aims of the original game, but there's something about the crisp, polygonal focus of the sequel that makes the overall vision leap vividly to life. Sitting by and looking on is frustrating; you can't wait to roll your sleeves up and get stuck in yourself.
With the demonstration over, it's time for the interview - which you can read along the bottom of these pages - to begin. Goldsworthy is refreshingly free from hyperhole - one of the first things he picks out as a major development in the game is the sheer amount of fine-tuning and balancing that's gone on. Incredibly important from a gameplay point of view, but hardly the stuff of screaming advertising slogans. He comes across as a relaxed, attentive kind of guy. Probably nice to work for. The only awkward moment occurs when, suffering from cheap coffee and psychotic exhaustion, I inexplicably ask him what kind of animal he'd most like to have sex with. We ask everybody that question.
There's a long, slightly embarrassed pause before he admits defeat: he can't think of one. I apologise and change the subject. Overall there's a lot of talk about the game, obviously, and it's clearly something he's been talking about a lot of late. He brightens visibly when asked about his first gaming experiences. Turns out he's got a collection of old gaming systems at home. He knows his stuff. It's a passion.
That isn't something you can fake. This won't be a fake; this game won't be a token remake of the original. Dungeon Keeper 2 will, we believe, rock bells.
Bullfrog don't muck around, you know. During the production of Dungeon Keeper 2 they've been painstakingly examining every aspect of the game to ensure the gaming public will 'get' it all. And you know what that means: that means 'focus grouping'
And lots of it The help system, for example, was meticulously pieced together during extensive tests on a wide range of players - from jaded testers to virginal r office secretaries who'd only ever played Windows Solitaire - which helped ascertain just how much 'nudging' the player might require in order to start ascending the teaming curve.
Sometimes it takes a long time to get things right The interface for the game, for example, was redesigned more than ten times following feedback from the focus groups. The end result is an ingenious 'toolbar' system which can be customised in-game to suit the player (frequently used icons can be placed on a special 'favourites' bar that's always within easy reach).
Before you start carping on about things being 'designed by committee', shut up and listen: It's not the entire concept that's been focus grouped, just the finer details. Countless games fail because of niggling little irritations which could have been identified during the production process. That's precisely what focus grouping does. So there.
In the original Dungeon Keeper there were loads of different kinds of rooms you could build within your dungeon, each of which served a specific purpose. Libraries, for instance, were knowledge centres wherein creatures could teach themselves new spells, while chicken hatcheries served as handy sources of food. All the rooms from the original are retained for the sequel, with a couple of fun additions.
First of all there's a 'barbarian pit' room where creatures learn to fight. It works quite simply: just drop a pair of creatures in and watch as they hammer ten shades of shinola out of one another. They even draw a baying crowd. When close to death, they limp away and recuperate -unless you drop them in with a captured hero, in which case you've got a fight to the death. Oh, the humanity.
Then there's the Casino room, replete with fruit machines and roulette wheels. This works on two levels: it attracts monsters into the dungeon, keeps them entertained, and can actually save you money (the ignorant sods keep pumping their wages into it). Of course, once in a while, someone will hit the jackpot and you have to pay out, probably when you're in a tight fiscal spot already. Still, in true casino-owning-bastard tradition, you can always beat the crap out of the winner and recoup some of your losses as he drops the coins. Just don't let the other creatures spot you or they'll riot.
I'm So Horny, Horny Horny Horny
The Homed Reaper from the original Keeper proved so popular that his role has been substantially increased for the sequel. He's now actually working in conjunction with the Keeper himself (that's you, that is), so you'll be seeing a lot more of him.
Just as well his behaviour has been given something of a tweak, then. He's been invested with more character than before, and reacts to other creatures around him accordingly - throwing scowling glances at cowering imps, that sort of thing. Nice.
Download Dungeon Keeper 2
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
This guide allows you to breeze through Bullfrog's devilish masterpiece with ease. We've got walkthroughs for each level, advanced dungeon design, and a host of other revealing strategies. The first three levels are essentially training levels. So, moving swiftly on...
Begin with the usual lair, hatchery, treasury and library set-up. Once you have a healthy dungeon, dig west to claim the guardroom that attracts Dark Elves. Now dig north up the east side of the map, avoiding a head-on assault.
On the way is Old Bob who is guarding the main gate. Possess a Dark Elf and zoom your view in to kill Bob with arrows. Continue up the right side of the base, dig out the wall, and surprise Lord Ludwig. Easy.
Gain the portal quickly and then create a small guardroom to the right of it. This protects the area that heroes are likely to attack first. Build up your usual dungeon faculties, ensuring you spread south to claim the neutral prison. Your Imps can now drag unconscious and dying enemies into the prison to be converted into skeletons. Make sure the area to the north of the guardroom is claimed and mined, and set up some sentry guns.
Finally, when you have about six skeletons, you can attack the keep in the northeast. Send the bones in first to disable the fear traps, and then edge back to draw the armies of good into your prepared killing field.
First things first: torture the prisoners to reveal areas of the map. Now build quickly and claim as much land as you can. Note the gold seam to the east - this is a valuable supply and should keep you going for the duration of the level. Set up barricades and sentry traps around your land to slow down the constant attacks from your foe.
When your creatures are at level three or four, you can attack via the east or west, but not straight through the front gate. Ideally, you need to send a lone scout (possibly a Warlock or Mistress) to clean out these side passages, rescue the neutral Mistress held within, and then launch your assault. Providing you have a good mixed force of well-trained monsters, Lord Ironhelm is no problem.
Torture the wizard your minions have already captured to reveal the location of Lord Ironhelm. Use the heal spell to good effect while you advance to claim the distant portal. Also, use the same spell on enemy heroes while you are torturing them to convert them to your cause.
When you've amassed a swarthy army, head north so that you are ready for when the timer reaches zero and Lord Ironhelm attempts to flee. Ambush him east of his lair, and then kill him.
Don't worry about the giants heading for your dungeon heart, your servants can handle it. Dig out all the gold you can, and make space for a prison among your usual constructions. While you're doing this, your Imps uncover some abandoned rooms. Secure these by placing alarm traps along the lava side of your land. With the rest of your defence in place, head east to the guardroom with three doors. Send in a horde to take over this room, and then head south to Lord Sigmund by bridging across the lava. (Use the sight of evil spell to check your route.)
You begin with a few creatures. Protect them well until you have claimed the nearby portal. Continue east of the portal and then slowly work your way north towards Lord Titus. You need to take each room, one by one. Rest after each battle, and try to convert as many heroes as you can by squeezing a torture chamber into your dungeon. If you're strapped for cash (which is likely) set the casino on low payout in order to swell your coffers.
Expand eastwards. When you've erected your buzzing hive of hate, create a veritable feast of gas traps and sentry guns, just to the south of the eastern outpost. Send a small party to attack, then retreat back into your domain luring the heroes into your traps. Repeat this manoeuvre with the other outposts.
By now time should be running low and the Lord should be approaching. Set up troops, barricades and sentry guns around the middle outpost and just let him come to you. Goodnight Vienna.
Dig a 5x5 opening. Build a workshop around the edge, then a lair inside that, and a hatchery in the middle. To complete the design, convert some giants and then put them to work.
When a huge trapped area is in place to the north of your base, you can destroy the hero gates. When that's done, head north along either edge of the map to find Asmodeus. He will counterattack with most of his army. Wait until they're flailing in your traps, and then send your troops into his dungeon heart to crush him.
There are four other evil keepers to scrap in this scenario - and it can get messy. The trick, once again, is speed and surprise. Build efficient workshops and ensure all your creatures train well, are happy, and well fed. Claiming at least two nearby portals is no problem. Any more than that and you'll need to fight for them.
Eventually, you can amass a formidable level three and four army. Take them on a rampage (using your call to arms spell
After thwarting the initial dwarf attacks, dig east and claim the graveyard. Knock around for a while, killing whoever you can while directing bodies to the graveyard (five bodies make one vampire). When you've formed a mighty undead army, march north to ransack the hero keep. Use these bodies to bolster your army further. Eventually dig out the right side of the map to enter Malachai's Dungeon and kill him and his evil heart.
On this level it is important to keep your evil workers and the captured heroes apart. Build a separate dungeon for the heroes so they don't have to mingle with the Goblins etc, whom they hate.
Monks are the key to this level as they are highly effective against Vampires (stake in the heart and all that). To arrange a ready supply of them, capture the hero prison and torture room. The only problem with Monks is that they are slower than the Vampires. To try to even things up a bit, drop a few cunningly placed traps.
Eventually Malleus launches a major assault. When most of that has been wiped out, it's time to head to his heart and well and truly trash it.
A fairly small level, which is also quite easy. Attack sensibly, resting and healing your troops when they need it There's also Horny, of course. Use him when it's absolutely necessary for extra insurance. Once you've captured the mana sources, the goodly Lord is just to the north.
Work quickly to rescue as many of your imprisoned Black Knights as possible. Also, dig south to rescue Knud the mad Troll who's an ace trap maker. Use the Black Knights to free the rest of their kin and take the combat pit in the process.
When the enemy forces attack, push them back towards their own dungeon, and move yours with you in the process. In other words, sell your old rooms and build new ones. This means your monsters won't have so far to go to get paid, eat, and sleep.
Finally, dispatch the Lord quickly before he gets a chance to call reinforcements.
Head north to seize the unguarded portal. Make use of the gold on the way to build a combat pit. Next, take the southern portal guarded by Fairies. There are plenty of goodies to be found around here, so have a good sniff around before you launch your assault on the Fairy castle. When you do finally attack, make sure it's from the west and that your route is well trapped just in case you need to retreat. Work your way through to the central rooms - trapping as you go - and then annihilate the main Fairy army and the Lord.
Stealth and cunning is the key here. Slowly claim the rooms around the centre of the keep by managing your Imps well. If they start scampering off claiming obvious territory, pick them up, or patrolling guards (who will call reinforcements) might spot them.
When you uncover the portal, let your minions mass in an area to the north and then pull off the final assault against Lord Pureheart.
Erect separate dungeons around each portal. One should house the combat pit and training room, while the other should boast a library and workshop. Both dungeons should also have their own lair, hatchery and treasury. Nearer the dungeon heart, construct a prison, torture room and graveyard - but remember these rooms are tor the enemy keeper's creatures, not the heroes who you have to kill outright to curry the favour of the Dark Angels.
Now concentrate on the fight. The other keepers are also trying to gain the Dark Angels' help, so only attack keepers who are attacking heroes (and thus stealing them). Only when you've enlisted the help of the Dark Angels can you defeat the rest of the keepers and gain the gem.
Good training in the combat pit and clever use of traps gets you through this battle. It's quite straightforward really: convert all the heroes you can, then attack the lesser keepers first and go for the daddy last. If you get into trouble, call Horny.
Prince Balder can be trapped on an island by claiming the bridges he patrols. The other two can be trapped by attacking them simultaneously where their patrol routes cross. Once you have them all snared, knock them out and take them back to your prison for some special treatment where they soon divulge the location of the gem.
The King himself. It's an all-out battle between good and evil. Train your creatures to the highest level and away you go. What else can we say? You've learnt all there is to know, so just do it.
If you're a politician, dentist, tax man or dominatrix, you'll feel right at home with DK2s idea of administering pain to nice people. Basically, it's a god sim in which you construct a dungeon inhabited by foul creatures and booby traps, which are fiendish enough to repel the attacks of a bunch of rich boys in armour who believe it's their quest to stop you expanding your realm.
Unlike many strategy games, you have no direct control over the actions of your minions, which can make DK2 both hugely entertaining and incredibly frustrating. However, the AI is generally of a high standard and there's huge scope for expanding your dungeons. The only real problem is that the whole thing starts getting repetitive a little too quickly for comfort
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.