Gameloft, one of the industry’s leading publishers and developers for mobile devices, are looking to bring another one of their flagship gaming series to the PlayStation 3. Modern Combat was the first Gameloft IP to jump platform this January, the adaptation, Modern Combat: Domination, being a fast-paced yet in-depth online shooter akin to genre king, Call of Duty, though only selling at a fraction of the price.
Following suit this April is Dungeon Hunter: Alliance, a standalone adventure in the popular action RPG series which will launch exclusively on the PlayStation 3.
[boxout]Alliance, like both of the previous Dungeon Hunter titles, is set in the fantasy kingdom of Gothicus, this time following the adventure of a fallen king. Years after his death, he suddenly awakens in his crypt, searching for answers and more importantly his wife, his beloved queen who he had once resurrected after a terrible targedy, though the dark spells and incantations used to raise her also left a sinister, muderous side effect.
After a brief character creation screen allowing players to choose between either a warrior, rogue or mage, the game opens up immediately. For newcomers to the genre it may sound as if you are being thrown into the deep end, but there is a good helping of tips and tutorials which get you up to speed in no time. For those already acquainted with Dungeon Hunter, it will take a matter of seconds to gather your bearings.
From a top-down perspective, players will have to trawl through dungeons, caverns, and other perilous locales as well as towns and settlements in which you can trade items and obtain quests. Combat is orchestrated in real-time and alongside missions, these earn you experience points as well as loot to advance your character.
To begin with, players will only have access to a primary attack as well as one of their pre-set abilities, assigned to the three remaining face-buttons as indicated on the HUD. Levelling up will allow players to spend points on new abilities, and there are plenty to choose from, adding a sense of uniquity to your fighter.
Not so much a problem more than it is a convention of action RPGs, especially dungeon crawlers, is the monotony of combat, however Alliance has a few mechanics in place to prevent the experience from growing stale.
When accessing the inventory, players create two different weapon sets which they can then switch between at the touch of a button, allowing your character to adapt to certain combat situations.
For instance, you’re rogue could be hammering away at a pack of goblins with their dual daggers when a mini-boss suddenly appears; instead of having to cycle through menus and equip your bow, you can simply tap a button, turning the table on your opponent. Unlike previous instalment of the series, Alliance will also have a stronger focus on puzzles, the example in the preview build forcing the player to carry an object and place it on a pressure pad, though I was assured that these segments would get a lot more challenging as the game progresses.
Another refreshing element is the alternate control scheme available. One of the main factors that drew players towards Modern Combat: Domination was the inclusion of full Move support, which also features in Dungeon Hunter. The game only uses a single Move device per player without needing a Nav controller (the PS Nunchuk) or even an additional Dualshock 3. Looking down at my free hand, expecting a thumbstick to twiddle on, I was immediately sceptical about how the motion controls were actually going to work, but I soon found myself pleasantly surprised.
When using the Move, a coloured cursor will appear on-screen which is used to direct the character, both in movement and combat. It’s easy to master and incredibly intuitive replicating the accuracy of a computer mouse; even though the Dualshock is just as adequate, you will find yourself reaching for the Move every time.
Though there are a number of NPCs you can march into battle with, Dungeon Hunter: Alliance also features four player co-op, both online and off. No matter where you are in the game, neighbouring players can drop in with a touch of the start button, either loading an existing character from the same console, or creating one on the spot, it literally takes just a second.
You can also open your doors to the online populace, with a number of lobby options in place to limit who can join your game. Friends can also meet up via the PlayStation Network, communicating with one another using voice chat. Having more members in your party will mean a lot more enemies too, so don’t expect it to be a walk in the park, and don’t expect to be able to grab other players’ loot too; Alliance has a unique drop system, not only sharing out the items fairly, but also preventing character from picking up gear which they aren’t compatible with.
For instance, mages won’t be able to pick up heavy armour and advanced melee weapons, not if there is a warrior in the party.
Alliance is looking to be one of the strongest offerings on the PlayStation Network this spring, driving home Gameloft’s initiative for great quality games with tiny price tags. It’s a perfect entry point to not just the series, but also the dungeon-crawling genre, and with unique features such as Move support and drop-in/out multiplayer, it could easily be the next big thing for casual groups of couch players, harking back to the Champions of Norrath era.
Dungeon Hunter: Alliance will launch next month, and though the price has yet to be confirmed, it will probably sell for around £6-8, excellent value considering the 8+ hour campaign and expansive multiplayer.
We would like to extend our thanks to the guys at Gameloft for giving us the opportunity to get an exclusive hands-on with Dungeon Hunter: Alliance.