Forgotten Gems of Gaming: Dungeon Keeper 2

During the seventh year of the nineties a game called Dungeon Keeper was released...

I grow up in the nineties, which was undoubtedly and indisputably the best time to be a kid in the history of the world€“and that probably applies to the future too. Children's Films hadn€™t been ruined by special effects yet and eighties effects of stop frame animation and in-front of camera trickery were still being refined. Look at The Witches (1990) or Babe (1995) and imagine how they would have been CGI-ed to death if released today. Video games were still graphically primitive enough that developers had to concern themselves with engaging game play and tone. The summers were long and the internet was just getting started, so you could dial up for an hour or two each evening but it didn€™t consume your whole day. So we all remember the nineties and how awesome they were, but we can€™t spend the rest of our lives telling everyone that. Let€™s pat ourselves on the back and continue with our day.

During the seventh year of the nineties a game called Dungeon Keeper was released, but not for any fancy consoles mind you, for the good old Microsoft Windows PC, with its trusty keyboard and mouse. The game was developed by Bullfrog Productions and was the last game that the deity of the video game world, Peter Molyneux, worked on before founding Lionhead Studios. Bullfrog are easily one of the greatest game developers of the nineties, with titles that have graced previous Forgotten Gem articles. For a company that was once so mighty, it was sad to see them taken over by the mighty EA. With some employees made redundant and others worse, getting absorbed into EA UK and sent to video game development prison€“working on the Harry Potter games. Anyway, onto the great sequel that was Dungeon Keeper 2. With Molyneux out of the picture, it seems that the development team took it in a more fun direction. The first Dungeon Keeper went for a serious affair, but Dungeon 2 went for a more tongue-in-cheek tone, with several jokes breaking the forth wall. Although the name might suggest that you must concern yourself with the upkeep of a dungeon; cleaning, heating, bills, torture targets and staffing issues, this is misleading. Your evil hands are placed in charge of a dungeon, but you are able to expand and concern other subterranean spaces. You play as an evil overlord (Yer, remember that name for later) in the form of a flouting green hand, that commands trusty imps to do what ever you want. They aren€™t smart though. Digging and acquiring treasure are the main orders of the day, with the ultimate goal usually to destroy some good guy and conquer all of the underground lands to collect all of the portal gems. The game is surprisingly deep and much more streamline than its predecessor, making for a solid and fun gameplay experience that is far too complex to go into in any detail here.
One of the great things about the game is that it allowed the player to be evil. In fact, that was the aim of the game and it was celebrated! As a kid you don€™t want to learn about geography and animals with Dorling Kindersley€™s World Explorer, (thanks parents) you want to be smashing skulls with goblins by your side. There was a preposed third installment to the series but the title was cancelled as Bullfrog bizarrely decided to stop making real-time strategy games, which is perhaps a reason why they are now working on Harry Potter titles. There is a bit of hope for the future though if you are Chinese, which if you are reading this you are probably not. A Chinese online game developer announced that they were working on the title Dungeon Keeper Online, for release in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau. It sounds like a good idea. The format would certainly work as an MMO, so if you want to give it a try, buy that copy of Rosetta Stone and start saving for flights. With no real hope in a Dungeon Keeper 3 actually being released and absolutely no chance that it would be by the original developers, it could be argued that the spiritual successor to the Dungeon Keeper is the Overlord series. Although not as complex or engaging, Overlord does capture some of the tone or Dungeon Keeper. So if you want your evil fix in glorious HD try that. If graphical prowess is not top of your list, boot up the classic, it still holds up today.
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