Anybody who doubts FPS games are playable on the DS needs to pick up Dementium II, despite its length and some flaws.
Anybody who doubts FPS games are playable on the DS needs to pick up both Dementium games, as well as the developer's other game Moon. All of their games run at a very high, smooth frame rate, and there is little slowdown, and Dementium II is no exception.
The controls work well with the DS, especially for gamers used to mouse-look style configurations. To bring up items/weapons, you just click and hold the stylus down and drag it to the item you want to use. The left shoulder button shoots and the d-pad is forward/back/strafe. There is also a jump/crouch function that gets rid of the "why can't I get over this pile of furniture?" mechanic from the first game. Towards the end there is a bit of platforming, which should have been used much more for some variety.
The controls aren't completely without faults. To run you double tap the d-pad in the direction you want. There isn't a time where you don't want to run, and when you have to try and get away from an enemy, you'll take a hit or two trying to back away quickly, especially during boss battles.
Weapons are a nice mix of melee and ranged weapons. Some of the weapons allow you to access areas that weren't available to the player, like the sledgehammer. This feature could have been used more, it was a nice touch. There is a lack of ammo throughout the game, forcing the player to learn how to effectively use the melee weapons. Reloading is also new for the game, and adds a much needed challenge to the gameplay.
For those who played the original game, the Flashlight was a constant companion, which you switched back and forth between it and a weapon. Now the game allows the player to use the flashlight while using one-handed weapons like the shank or pistol. This is a nice addition to the gameplay and players will want to conserve one-handed weapon ammo for when they go into darker areas.
The original levels were one of Dementium: The Ward's biggest complaint. I thought it gave the game a bit of realism, because hospitals are normally cookie cutted, level by level. The best levels were the ones with a purpose, like the level with the mall/security room. Dementium II works best when the player is in a familiar environment (what made classic FPSs like DN3D and Blood so much fun.) There is a constant change of indoor and outdoor environments to mix things up.
There are times, however, where the game shifts and puts the player in some sort of hellish level with metal, blood, and chains everywhere. While a neat concept, it's only enjoyable when the game uses it to allow access to previously inaccessible environments. Half the time it removes the fun, realistic environments with boring standard FPS affairs.
Enemies run their share of awesome to annoying. Larger monsters are nothing special, yet nothing horribly bad. The modifications to the humanoid enemies from the first game are done well. The new enemies add some much needed variety from the original. The best additions have to be a certain enemy that will only die with a certain weapon or the shadow basement creatures that will send you to an arena to fight monsters before the player can restart the section. AI is fine for a handheld, so no complaints here.
In the first game most enemies would respawn when revisiting an area while health and ammo wouldn't. In this game this doesn't happen, and creates backtracking through very empty areas. Renegade Kid should have kept respawing enemies in since the new Melee weapons and inventory screen removes major issues from the first game.
The boss fights are nice in that they offer a bit of variety compared to the first game. Yes, there are "chip away the health" bosses, but the best one has to be the Third-from-last where there is only one real way to dispatch it, and was rewarding to find out the most effective way to kill it.
Puzzles are more numerous than in the previous game, but are less about solving them as retrieving an item you needed and backtracking. Kind of boring, especially without respawning enemies, but works out fine in this game. There is a "news" puzzle that was nice and similar puzzles should have been more plentiful.
In the original game as well, you could blast through it a second time because you knew all of the combination locks and such. Now the game will have different combinations for each time the player plays through. A nice feature is if you get stuck, the map will tell you where you need to go next.
The player uses "mirrors" that will restore health and save the game, better than the original save system. They're too few and far between, and require even more backtracking, but are normally found in hub areas which isn't a problem.
The overall game was too short, and I wish that Renegade Kid's episodic FPS plans, according to Jools, would have worked out. They could have offered more levels in shorter developement time with the same game mechanism and stretched the game out substantially.
Survival Mode is a nice addition. It's similar to Moon's training missions, but with less variety. Instead of having to traverse levels to reach the end in the quickest time and with the most accuracy, the goal of Survival is to, well, survive enemy attacks. Each stage is a different environment with a different enemy and weapon/item cache. The player goes throughout each stage with a limited supply and tests how good the player is.
It's a fun game mechanism, but each stage is a small, arena-type level with prison/town/freaky themes to them. What would have worked better is if the player was in one DM-type level (out of many) for the rest of the game with respawning enemies and items, and could have had more variety in movement instead of the strafe-shoot strategy that works best for Survival mode.
-Levels are varied and have a real-world attachment and filled with everyday things.
-Weapon reloading adds much needed challenge.
-More weapon variety, especially melee types.
-Jump and Crouch remove first game level design flaws
-New Enemies that require different strategies.
-More Puzzles and Backtracking.
-A bit more story going on
-Flashlight and one-handed weapons work together.
-Survival Mode game mechanics
-Nightmarish levels only work well when allowing the player to go someplace else.
-Backtracking through empty environments needed *some* respawning enemies, even easy ones.
-Survival Mode levels boring, needed some single DM type levels.
-Weapons to get to inaccessible areas should have been used more.
-Running mechanism;auto-run option at least is needed.
Too many FPS games today offer boring level design or too realistic gameplay. Renegade Kid gives gamers a bit of mid-nineties FPS goodness with Dementium II. If you liked this era of games then I'd recommend it.
This is just another positive chapter for the developer, and I hope to see more DS FPSs of this caliber, hopefully with a bigger budget, in the future.