Dungeon Keeper

a game by Bullfrog Productions
Platform: PC
Genres: Action, Strategy/War
Editor Rating: 8.8/10, based on 5 reviews
User Rating: 10.0/10 - 2 votes
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See also: Dungeon Games

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.

ProTips:

  • 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.

Download Dungeon Keeper

Game Reviews

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.

Overview

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.

Graphics

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.

Audio

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!'

System Requirements

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.

Bottom Line

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.

Overview

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.

Gameplay

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).

Audio

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.

Multiplayer

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.

System Requirements

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

Bottom Line

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?

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