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Review by: Jordan Thomas
Published: March 1, 1998
Ah, it’s good to be evil…again.
When Dungeon Keeper was originally released, I found that my darker half simply reveled in the general indulgence of my villainous urges. I played on into the night, eagerly manipulating the forces of evil into massive attacks on the pitiful heroes that dared attempt to sack my domain. This game is possibly the most unique type of thrill that the gaming community was treated to in the last two years. Molyneux and his crew certainly brought forth the sinister lord in all of us, and we loved it.
Now, we’ve been given the opportunity to return to the depths. The Deeper Dungeons mission pack is a thorough new add-on for Dungeon Keeper. It includes several new ingenious single-player scenarios and a legion of new multiplayer levels as well. Overall, the gameplay is exactly the same. But more Dungeon Keeper is exactly what they intended to provide, and they’ve done a heck of a job. New demonic reliefs adorn the walls. The Avatar is back, and you’ll have to expel him from the underworld once and for all.
In general, the single player levels are extremely well-designed, with multiple easter eggs and a good mixture between heroes and other keepers as your primary sources of conflict. This isn’t exactly a deluxe package; the levels are simply chosen by name without any real introduction, and I would have really liked to see a new intro animation. However, the quality of the actual mission pack is fantastic. These missions have been streamlined so that a good deal of the original frustrations I encountered in the first game have been eliminated. You’re given time to develop your dungeon to the fullest, and not pressured in the same way that occasionally would happen with the first title.
As for new elements, the wall art has been revamped to include new paintings and types of stone. Occasionally, a blood-curdling scream would echo throughout my cavernous realm, which was an addition I appreciated immensely, with an evil smile. The AI of the opposing keeper has been improved considerably between the original game and this add-on pack. I was able to watch my opponent actually sell off useless rooms to gain gold for instantaneous destructive power; I brought a force of Dark Mistresses into his dungeon only to find that he sold the workshop out from under me and slapped the entire group with multiple lightning bolts.
As you progress from one level to the next, the difficulty is increased by an order of magnitude. Multiple keepers and heroic armies will assail you at every turn. This is more a set of levels for people who found DK but a passing challenge for their malevolent minds, and are ready for something a bit more…fleshy. Thankfully, many of the sets include a few starting generals for your army. This is one of the primary reasons I enjoyed the package. As I moved beyond the first challenge, the designers included a few higher-level pretrained imps and creatures to help me begin my conquest.
Actually, on a very pervasive level, the level structure is perfect throughout these Deeper Dungeons. The challenges are placed in surprise pockets all around your primary dungeon level-space. Expansion is very dangerous, just as it should be. The further into the underdark you delve, the more your opponents press the advantage. Heroes will blast through the walls when you least expect it, just when you were about to mount an assault on the enemy keeper. The pesky do-gooders never give up. At least you can imprison and torture them. There’s nothing more satisfying than tormenting an iron-willed Samurai into joining your craven cause.
A few more specialized goals provide a healthy change of pace. In one level, you are asked simply to possess a fourth level giant spider, and hunt down an enemy wizard with the express purpose of killing him slowly for sapping your power. Suffice it to say that boulder traps will liven up this little first-person experience, but interim levels like these reminded me that this set was, after all, done by Bullfrog. Hence, the authentic fun present in Dungeon Keeper is certainly back for another round.
It is time once again to jovially play the bad guy. While the Deeper Dungeons aren’t a dazzling new sequel, they are a brilliant series of challenging new levels with the engaging sense of control that Dungeon Keeper exemplified. A few new graphics here and there, coupled with optimized AI routines and occasional pleasant (though not for the victims) surprises add up to a thoroughly worthy mission pack for this fantastic title. I heartily recommend it to eager fans of the original.
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