Price: Your Soul and Childhood Memories Publisher: EA Developer: Mythic Platforms: iOS, Android
By crikey EA have really messed up this time. Remember that bit in Fight Club when Edward Norton beats his blond friend to a bloody pulp, and then, eyes looking lazily past the camera, whispers "I wanted to destroy something beautiful"? This is what EA and their scampering imp of a sidekick Mythic have done to Bullfrog's seminal RTS. They've pushed it down onto a concrete floor, and let fly with their fists until its quivering body has been left broken and unrecognisable. Don't fear the Reaper, because EA have crippled him.
Perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise, what with this new version of Dungeon Keeper being a mobile game, and the major publishers having a distinctly odd view of what a mobile game should comprise of. What's truly sad is there's no reason Dungeon Keeper couldn't work on mobile devices more or less as it stands. It is ultimately a relatively simple RTS that relies mostly on the autonomy of the minions, specifically their interactions with one another and the facilities you provide them with, to make it interesting. That combined with its fairly small scale and simple controls makes it an ideal candidate for the transition to mobile gaming.
Unfortunately, EA and Mythic have either completely missed this have deliberately ignored it, and instead decided that the way to successfully "reboot" Dungeon Keeper is to rip out everything that made the Bullfrog games great, and replace it with the worst free-to-play model we've ever had the misfortune to encounter.
Here's how this new version of Dungeon Keeper works. Instead of progressively building more elaborate dungeons through the course of a campaign to wreak havoc upon an idyllic fantasy land, you are given a single square plot of underground in which you can build one dungeon. To do this you mine rocks and place rooms, which then grant access to new types of creatures to populate your dungeon with. So far, so Dungeon Keeper. Only, building one Dungeon can't possibly take very long, can it?
As it turns out, building a dungeon takes a very long time indeed, because doing almost anything in mobile Dungeon Keeper requires extensive periods of waiting around. Placing a room and hiring minions can take between ten and twenty minutes, while mining out any rock seams beyond the starting area requires several hours per block.
It is possible to resolve these tasks instantly by spending gems, that you occasionally discover during mining, or through "raiding" other dungeons which we'll cover momentarily. You can also spend gems to purchase the other two resources; gold and stone, required to hire minions, build and upgrade rooms. Dungeon Keeper provides you with a handful of gems at the start of the game, but you'll soon have spent these through simply attempting to enjoy yourself. At this point the only recourse is to close the game and wait long enough for your quarry and goldmine to accrue sufficient resources so you can do something, or buy more gems, packages for which range from around a fiver (ouch) to £69.99 (hahahahahahaha!)