Button-mashing - or screen-mashing, to be accurate - is usually a term of derision when it comes to games, but for hack 'n' slash adventure Dungeon Hunter 2 it's a badge of honour.
A winning combination of button-mashing action and loot lust, few dungeon-crawling role-playing games are as entertaining as this. Rather than aiming for innovation or introducing revolutionary new ideas, Dungeon Hunter 2 delivers familiar fun.
But while it's undeniably at the top of the genre, a few missing features and a general lack of polish hold it back from greatness.
The never-ending story
The cliche story of a kingdom that has fallen into darkness kicks off your quest to reclaim the throne and restore peace to the land.
Naturally, this involves a lot of butt-kicking, and through the course of the campaign you battle a variety of creatures including animated skeletons, humongous spiders, elemental jellies, and evil cultists.
There's equal diversity in the environments - a suitably dank swamp, snow-swept mountainside, a red sand desert, haunted forests, and a sprawling castle. While the graphics aren't always astounding - character close-ups during cut-scenes are downright hideous - the environments are vividly rendered and packed with detail.
Exploring the land of Gothicus is fun for the sake of curiosity, as much as it's necessary to drive the story forward. There are minor issues that prevent you from exploring in a completely carefree way, such as annoying environmental hangs-ups that glue you to objects and barrels that refuse to break open despite repeated attacks.
Things function more smoothly when it comes to character development, where you're able to outfit your hero with equipment, enhance core attributes by assigning points when levelling up, and unlock skills specific to each of nine classes.
You start the game by selecting from three available character classes: Warrior, Rogue, and Mage. Upon reaching level 12, you then access two specialisations unique to each class: for example, the attack-happy warrior evolves into either a wild berserker or crusader, the latter affording a mix of melee attack and magic abilities.
Since there are more abilities than points to be earned, you're forced to develop your character with a general strategy in mind. The type of equipment available to you is based on your chosen class, too, requiring you to constantly sift through loot picked up from defeated enemies and treasure chests to find the best weapons and armour. [Note: Equipment is stat-based, not class-based. While you can equip weapons and armour with high enough stats, it's tough to access all equipment with a single character.]
Between managing your equipment and developing your character's skills and attributes, Dungeon Hunter 2 provides enough depth to keep your busy.
Still, more could be done to broaden customisation and bring even greater depth. For instance, instead of randomly assigning bonuses to weapons and armour, an item crafting or enchantment system could allow you to customise your equipment.
No good deed goes unpunished
The introduction of cooperative multiplayer - both local and online via Game Center and Gameloft Live! - provides added value and a unique edge over competing games, even if the setup is skeletal.
Co-op has been implemented in the most rudimentary manner possible - there's no messaging system, no item trading, no cooperative attacks. At the very least there needs to be some basic trading system to encourage interaction.
Expanding the number of game save slots is also advisable, as currently you can only save one character. [CORRECTION: There are two save slots; tap the small orange button on the main menu to switch between the two. I regret the error.] The ability to create several characters to toy with the different classes would add replay value, but under the current setup you're forced to delete your progress if you wish to create a new hero.Dungeon Hunter 2 is still immensely enjoyable despite its omissions. In fact, it plays better than the original in almost every regard. Yet, that's not to overlook the fact that not enough has been done to polish the experience and flesh out its ambitious co-operative multiplayer.