Dungeon Hunter 3 iPad Review

Dungeon Hunter 3 doesn't feel like a true third installment to Gameloft's popular iOS franchise, largely because there's no story, and in theory, no dungeons, to speak of.

In fact, you never explore a level in search of magic rings or mythical swords. Instead, the publisher chose to release an arena combat game, where the object is to kill monsters while achieving pre-set goals (destroy a certain number of crows, break non explosive barrels) to earn as much gold as possible, whereupon which you enter a virtual shop and spend said loot on a variety of items that boost your character's overall performance.

It's fun for a little while. The combat is without question the best we've seen from the Dungeon Hunter series, with easily accessible buttons and much smoother animations; you'll have no trouble using a giant axe or dual swords to lay waste to hordes of goblins.

That said, the game is free to play, a huge plus, at least until you realize how hard (more like annoying) it is to earn enough gold to purchase the necessary weapons, helms, armor, amulets and fairy companions to clear the tougher stages. You'll have to go back and replay missions to boost your in-game bank account.

Unless, of course, you opt for making an in-app purchase, acquiring heaps of gold and gems (by far the hardest form of currency to obtain through grinding) to get the most from the experience.

This is a huge departure from the norm. Fans were used to gaining items naturally. Here, they need to invest hours to acquire the best gear. It's kind of a turnoff, since everything's so expensive.

At least you don't have to break the proverbial bank. We scored 50,000 pieces of gold for $1.99, as well as 100 plus gems at the same price. Not bad, considering the game's high production values.

As we said, though, it doesn't feel like a true sequel; more like some offshoot, like Dungeon Hunter Arena. It's tough to bond with our chosen Warlord, Astromancer, Trickster or Shaman without a personality to speak of, or the ability to interact with different NPCs like in Dungeon Hunters past.

Ultimately, Gameloft chose to make Dungeon Hunter 3 more casual friendly while experimenting with in-app purchases. Probably not the greatest decision, given the largely negative reaction from the iOS community, but as a hack and slash title, it's worth a try.

Requirements: Compatible with iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPhone 4S, iPod touch (3rd generation), iPod touch (4th generation) and iPad. Requires iOS 4.0 or later.

Download Dungeon Hunter 3

What's Hot: Best graphics in the Dungeon Hunter series, improved animations, completing bonus goals, free to play, universal.

What's Not: No story or dialogue, heavily reliant on in-app purchases, no evade button.

3/5