|We had high hopes for this
game when we brought it home and opened it. Reading the box of Dungeon Master II: The
Legend of Skullkeep, you get the impression that you are about to undertake a
radically new role-playing experience, one which will redefine the standards of the
interactive role-playing dungeon experience. This sounds like a great promise; however,
it's one that was never kept. Right from the start it was a disappointment. There was certainly nothing
revolutionary about the opening movie sequence, because there wasn't one to speak of. How
about the graphics? Not here. The interface? A slightly reworked Eye of the Beholder,
Ultima Underworld, and Dungeon Master I conglomerate. How about the
combat? Just click on the icon and see what happens. The intelligence of your enemy? The
monsters think the game is only about finding the shortest path to your party and your
Character generation, sad to say, does not exist. The party is comprised of four characters, the hero Torham (whom you cannot replace), and the other three you pick from a total of fifteen characters in the Hall of Champions - all in some form of cryogenic sleep. Care is needed when picking the party for if a mistake is made, there is no putting the character back to bed; you have to restart the game. If a hero is lost during the course of the adventure, don't expect to replace him or her either. This was just the beginning. The magic system... The five minute walkthrough card tells you of only one spell, Light. To cast a spell you click on a small icon next to the caster, which brings up a window. First, you have to tell it at what power level the spell will be cast (the greater the power level, the more mana will be consumed). Next, you need to pick a Major Effect, which is an element upon which the spell is based in order to give it substance (don't ask me, that's what the manual said). All of this is very confusing, needless to say. We will admit though, that we are biased. We like to have a book of spells to grab things from. It makes casting a spell a simple, almost effortless thing, rather than a tedium of mind-boggling choices where we have no idea what direction we are headed in.
Hold on, we're not done yet. There was no real variety to the music tracks, the never-ending rain above ground got tiresome, and the constant darkness both above and below ground was another annoyance. How about the bats that reappear after you have rid a cave of them, just as soon as you leave? How about a tiny, little 23 meg game being put on a CD? Saves in production costs we guess, or are they just trying to impress the buyer? The final and most bothersome problem we found was the fact that you took damage if you moved forward one space too many and walked into a wall, table, bush, or tree. Highly annoying and not very reasonable. If we wanted to go adventuring with the Four Stooges, we would have purchased a different game.
However, not everything is bad in Dungeon Master II. Installation is really very simple. In addition, you can take torches off the walls. NIFTY!!! Plus, the party organization is "simply fabulous darling"--say that with a Zsa Zsa Gabor accent and you'll do just fine =); just drag and drop your character in the proper position. Overall Rating: All in all, Dungeon Master II failed badly in its mission to redefine the role-playing game standard. The plot isn't that interesting: get into the castle, repair the device and save the world from THE BIG BAD DUDE. While the game would have been decent five years ago it simply is not what you would expect from a game released late in 1995. A poor soundtrack, coupled with five year old graphics and the hunt and click puzzles of the game make it one that most should pass up.
--Kevin & Jennifer