Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes is about as generic as you can get.
In some ways, this game improves upon Dark Alliance's system, but in other ways it falls in the same problems I had with Dark Alliance. Ok, while the dungeons are generic, the battling is boring, the lack of puzzles, and the story and characters are lame.
On the brighter side of things, the camera is free roaming, the graphics are nice, the ability to play with 4 players instead of 2 or 3... uh.. I guess that's about it. Well I enjoyed the magic system in this game, this was the first game of this ilk that I used magic often since that craptacular Bard's Tale for the PS2. Outside of all of that, it's a fairly generic game.
Dungeons and Dragons: Heroes is a generic hack and slashing four player (takes breath) dungeon crawler. Most of the gameplay mechanics are lifted straight from Baldur Gates: Dark Alliance, so if you've played that then you'll know what to expect.
You get to pick between a Cleric (Dwarf), Warrior, Rogue and Wizard. I ended up picking the Cleric, who could wield hammers and use healing magics, basically an all around centered character I think.
You gain experience for each monster killed, and gain levels after a set amount of experience points, blah blah blah. After you gain a level you get a bunch of points you get to distribute to skills and magics. After each 6 or so levels you get 1 point to distribute to your stats. I ended up gaining 30 levels in this game, which is a high amount of levels for the length and style, so I basically gained every skill on the list (although I didn't max out a few spells). So I enjoyed gaining a level more so than I would in other games.
You go from generic dungeon to generic dungeon hack and slashing away until you find your objective, either to kill something or find something. Just about 90% of the quests are to Find something, the rest are to return that item you found to someone or to place it somewhere. LAME quests. The dungeons require no thought at all, since there's no puzzles. There are levers you have to find and switch to open up a path, but that's about it. There's only a small handful of sidequests but they reward you with a nice chunk of experience and money.
Boss fights require some thought, but you can quickly figure out their patterns. All boss fights follow the same basic pattern though, they invulnerable, but then show a short moment of weakness where you then hack and slash it away until it dies. Yeah that's about it, but it's atleast a strategy other than "hack and slash until death" that most games of this style do. You can atleast TELL you are fighting a boss.
----------Characters / Story----------
Uh... there wasn't much of a story at all. You're opened with a backstory of an evil wizard fighting the four legendary heroes of the past, but they didn't exactly defeat the evil wizard. So it's your quest to retrieve five gems to defeat him.
Ok, so the story sucks, and your characters have no personality or dialog, but you atleast know from the very start who you need to kill and why. That right there is an improvement from Dark Alliance or Champions of Norrath games.
The graphics, atleast for this style of game, are actually very good. Not quite as good as X-Men Legends which came out a couple years later, but miles ahead of Dark Alliance and Fallout console games. The visuals are very very sharp, and the camera isn't fixed into certain positions, so you can move in really really close, or far away, at any distance you want. There's no framerate or lag problems.
The dungeon layouts are generic and you'll fight an endless amount of the same monsters for hours, but the monsters look good atleast. When you change equipment, your character changes aswell, on the menu, dialog scenes or battlefield, and you can easily tell he looks different, unlike the boring looking characters on Dark Alliance, Fallout and Champions of Norrath. The dialog cutscenes uses the in-game engine and doesn't look to good at all, your playable character won't even look at the character you're interacting with, and the scene always fades to black before the character you're talking with is done talking. The game does feature some really nice looking pre-rendered cutscenes, nothing nearly on a Final Fantasy level, or even an X-Men Legends 2 level, but it's atleast an effort that Dark Alliance, Fallout and Champions of Norrath didn't bother with.
The sound effects were good. The voice acting wasn't bad. The music was very minimal, mostly relying on ambient wind or very minimal music. It fits the game. There's nothing to exciting about the sound, but nothing totally bad, they play it fairly safe.
There's no world map per say. You start off in a random generic dungeon with no backstory or anything with your character, you then have one small objective until you reach a castle. This castle will be your Hub for the entire game, this castle will have a bunch of dungeons and portals that links to new lands. That's really about it. Atleast the game only features one Hub, so you can backtrack to any level you want (but there is never a need to backtrack, the option is there though).
The game has a dungeon map, placed on the mid-left of the screen, which is annoying to me because I'm use to these maps being on the top-right. You can't view an overall sized map of a dungeon, which is disappointing.
----------Time to Complete Game----------
The game doesn't record the overall time, but I would guess between 8-12 hours. Not very long at all, but about average for this type of game. After you beat the game you get to keep your save file and watch the ending again or start over with your character.