Game Reviews

Dungeon Hunter 3

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Dungeon Hunter 3

Hell hath no fury like a fanboy scorned, and when Gameloft announced that the third instalment in its popular Dungeon Hunter series would be a strictly freemium affair it took several days for the noise to die down.

As we've already established in our review of Dungeon Hunter 3 on iOS, the move towards free-to-play hasn't really damaged the game's appeal - the bigger issue is that Gameloft has stripped away the story and RPG elements to make Dungeon Hunter a very basic brawler.

Instead of carefully exploring dank caves and crumbling citadels, you're thrown into open arenas where enemies don’t skulk in the shadows but attack in waves. The tension that accompanied previous instalments is altogether absent, and the only time your heart begins to race is when you run out of health-restoring potions during a sortie.

Keep an eye on your elf

The game mechanics are designed to encourage you to spend real-world cash to bypass various artificial limitations - such as not being able to claim rewards at the conclusion of a mission without special keys - and it's this rather shameless element that really annoys.

No doubt many players would rather the game had remained a premium proposition, as the focus on in-app percussing is irksome at best and downright obnoxious at worst.

Thankfully, it's not all bad news with the Xperia Play version of Dungeon Hunter 3. Gameloft has totally rebuilt the interface to take advantage of the phone's physical controls - even the in-game prompts directly refer to the shoulder triggers and various fascia buttons.

The improved controls make the twin-stick combat even more enjoyable, and allow the game to sidestep some of the problems that affected the iOS edition.

Little touches like tapping the space between the two analogue pads to change your weapon show that Gameloft has really put a lot of effort into making this revised interface work as well as possible - it's a shame that other developers don’t follow suit in this regard.

Nice chest

Dungeon Hunter 3 also deserves praise for its presentation - it looks and sounds amazing. Gameloft's artists and designers have a long and proud reputation of making their games look stunning, and this is no exception. Even on the aging Xperia Play, the sharp graphics never fail to impress.

So it's a shame that when you strip away the tight controls and lush visuals what beats at the heart of Dungeon Hunter 3 is a pretty hollow experience that resorts too readily to in-app purchasing to keep your enjoyment alive.

Gamers accustomed to such shady freemium tactics will see no problem, but long-time fans of the franchise are sure to come away feeling more than a little aggrieved.

Dungeon Hunter 3

Visually alluring and expertly adapted for the Xperia Play's unique gaming interface, Dungeon Hunter 3 comes close to true greatness, but is sadly let down by its freemium bias and often unexceptional gameplay