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Page 1 of 3Introduction
"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."
Such could be the motto of Heuristic Park, which released Dungeon Lords in 2005, then the Dungeon Lords Collector's Edition (CE) in 2006, and now Dungeon Lords MMXII in 2012. The original game set a new low for how buggy and incomplete a game could be and still get released. The CE fixed a lot of the bugs and made the game more functional, but Heuristic Park (or perhaps then publisher DreamCatcher Interactive) lost any goodwill the edition might have engendered by choosing to charge for it rather than making it a free patch. And now there's MMXII, which aims to create the final and definitive version of Dungeon Lords, but it's buggy and sloppy, and in my view it's not even as good as the CE.
Just in case you missed Dungeon Lords the first time around -- or if the reviews scared you away -- the game was essentially an action RPG. You played an anonymous hero, and after receiving a mysterious summons from the Celestial Order, you learned that you'd need to track down and acquire five Relics of Power so you could defeat the evil wizard Volgar. Fortunately, the game did not rely on this overfamiliar story. Instead, it won players over with fun combat, well-designed dungeons, and a complex character system.
For MMXII, Heuristic Park left the campaign almost untouched. The quests, locations, and NPCs are all the same (and include everything from the CE); there are just a few new monsters and mini-bosses sprinkled around, including a powerful worm in the introductory theater sequence. Instead, the changes for the game come in two areas: the character system and the interface.
When you start a game of Dungeon Lords (MMXII or otherwise) you first create your character, which means you have to pick a name, a race, a gender, and one of four core classes (Adept, Fighter, Mage, or Rogue). Then as you play through the game, you get to add four more classes to your character: another core class, plus two second tier classes, plus one third tier class. The original Dungeon Lords had 29 second and third tier classes, and this was increased to 30 in the CE and 34 in MMXII, giving you all sorts of options for how to advance your character.
In the original versions of the game, you'd improve your attributes and skills by spending experience points on them. These costs could get pretty high, and so you had to pay attention to your character build. That's because your classes would give you learning bonuses for certain skills -- Fighters, for example, received bonuses for weapon and armor skills -- and some skills were almost impossible to learn without the right bonuses. For example, to become a Deathlord, you needed ten ranks each of Heavy Armor, Heavy Shields, and Heavy Weapons, and without a massive amount of grinding, you just weren't going to achieve that without getting multiple bonuses from your other classes.
Unfortunately, Heuristic Park junked this system in MMXII. Now characters just get 3 attribute points and 3 skill points each time they gain a level, and classes no longer have any sort of skill or attribute point requirements, meaning no character planning is necessary. That makes the game easier to play, but I wouldn't exactly call it an improvement.
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