GT Interactive and Reality Bytes are trying their hand
at the Dungeon Crawl genre with their latest release, Dark
Vengeance. It takes a less humorous storyline with fewer quips
than past games, like DeathTrap Dungeon, but does a little
better job on the storyline. You get to play the Warlock, the
Trickster, or the Gladiator. Each of the three characters has an
entirely different storyline, as well as game levels. This is quite
different than any other games in its genre. Reality Bytes paid
pretty good attention to detail and this turns out to be an
enjoyable title. There are, however, some problems which
should have been resolved.
The basic storyline has the Dark Elves taking a little
revenge on the good folks of Amagar. Hordes of evil, once
banished to the Underland have been released creating chaos
and death, etc. Fulfilling the prophecy, the sun is eclipsed and
the Dark Elves take a little Dark Vengeance.
Graphically, it's by far the best in it's genre. It's not as
bright as Deathtrap Dungeon or as interesting, but it's definitely
the most realistic. The weapons all look fantastic and the
environmental lighting was great. The graphic engine looks
good at ALL resolutions which sort of blew me away. At
400x320 it looked damn good! It runs all the way up to
1280x1024 and the graphics are nicely done at each resolution.
My biggest complaint comes in this category though. You use
the mouse to control the camera in DV, but this game lags way,
way, way down when you try to look around too much. It ran
fine in the highest resolutions with no drop in framerates.
When I went to look around an area, no matter what
resolution, the game suddenly crawled to a standstill with a
very noticeable drop in framerates. Now I suddenly felt like I
was playing a third person game like Trespasser. My other
complaint is that it's too dark. I don't get a spooked feeling by
the dark so it really doesn't seem to enhance the environment.
Also, why the HELL does the trickster look like Lara from Tomb
Raider? Can't you guys come up with your own chicks? You'll
need a Direct3D supported card for this one.
It's got decent audio. The monsters get a little
annoying and there's very few quips from the characters.
There's a good bit of environmental sounds like doors opening
and boxes being pushed around. The weapons all have unique
sounds as well. It does support 3D positional sound, but I don't
think it liked my Monster M80, because the box was greyed out.
Dark Vengeance gets similar criticism as other games
of its genre. The control is somewhat of a hassle. It's
complicated trying to hit something with a back swing while
you're spinning around trying to find your attacker. Like I
mentioned earlier, DON'T TOUCH THE MOUSE. You start
moving that thing while you're in combat, pretty soon you'll be
looking at the ceiling while the little ogres are tearing you
apart. Die by the Sword had decent support for a
joystick/gamepad which I have yet to see used in games since.
Maybe developers should take a peak back into gamepads.
The AI in DV is pretty lacking. They'll pretty much just
plain out attack you. However, they do try and run away if
they're injured. If you're on one level at the top of a stairwell
and the enemy is at the bottom, there's a pretty good chance
he's not going to come up the stairs after you. The archers,
which stand back and fire at you from a distance, don't make
much of an effort to run away from you when you're standing
next to them chopping away (kudos to Diablo).
It's definitely difficult enough so you can't breeze
through it in twenty minutes, and the unique storylines for each
character give it some decent replayability. It's still a third
person dungeon crawl and for many, it may be a genre that's
been beat to death by poor games. Heretic 2 is the major
exception and DV sure isn't H2. It's pretty good, but the Tomb
Raider-esque controls and terrible camera control put some big
dents in the entertainment value of DV.
It's got quite good multiplayer support, allowing for
games of 32 players with 64 spectators. I don't know exactly
why you'd want support for 64 peepers, but it's there.
Multiplayer is pretty nicely done. Its TCP/IP only and has
connection speed options to optimize based on connection
speed. The game comes with a dedicated server option which
is a very good option. It also allows for custom skins and
teamplay. It has by FAR the best options for multiplayer I've
seen yet, rivaling even Heretic 2.
Dark Vengeance puts a tight package in to the sort of
bombed third person dungeon hack genre. It has some big
flaws and some nice features. It also is pretty entertaining. I'd
have to definitely recommend this to anyone who liked
Deathtrap Dungeon and Die By The Sword and hasn't been
totally tarnished by Heretic II.
Highs: Great graphic support, great multiplayer support
Lows: Terrible camera control, iffy tomb-raider style control