Reviewed: July 9, 2011
Released: June 21, 2011
Bridging the gap between the old school D&D style dungeon crawlers like The Bard’s Tale and third-person RPG adventure titles like Fable and Assassin’s Creed – Dungeon Siege III definitely attempts to bring something new to the gaming table. The results may not be perfect, but by combining addictive loot-collecting character development with a solid storyline and fantastic presentation, Dungeon Siege offers a game that is as unique as it is familiar – highly customizable to any gamer’s style, yet not too difficult to alienate newbies.|
The story centers around the adventure of four gifted characters who have been tasked with finding the secret to the fall of the 10th Legion of the Ehb nation – believed to have been singlehandedly wiped out by the feared warrior Jayne Kassynder The four characters – Lucas, Anjali, Reinhart, and Katarina – each represent a different character class from the typical RPG, and as so have their own strengths and abilities.
Gamers choose one of the four depending on their preferred style of gameplay – whether it be the straight-forward swordplay action of Lucas, the shape shifting sorcery of Anjeli, the close combat magic of Reinhart, or the heavy-firearms of Katarina, there are plenty of options for gamers.
Action takes place in a third person isometric view typical to the dungeon crawling genre, although a quick click of the analog stick zooms in to a closer over-the-shoulder view typical to an action adventure title. In either view, the camera can be panned completely around the character adding a bit of convenience to the traditionally fixed camera angles.
The enemy types are quite varied, and although the attack patterns are predictable the combat seldom seems stale. This is augmented by an excellent real-time combat mechanic that plays more like Devil May Cry than the typical RPG dungeon crawler. Each character has two stances that loosely represent the difference between medium-powered close attacks and high-powered ranged attacks. Each attack requires a certain amount of “focus” to perform, which is proportional to the damage that is dished out.
The focus meter refills automatically over time, as does the health meter – together pretty much eliminating the annoying drudgery of health potions and food pick-ups from the traditional RPG fare. This Halo-esque method of stepping back to refill health rather than looking for health vials or turkey legs actually suits the genre well and definitely changes the item collection focus.
That’s not to say that the game doesn’t have it fair share of collecting – with an almost continuous supply of unique weapons upgrades and ammunition being uncovered, inventory management quickly becomes overwhelming. It’s obvious that the developers put an awful lot of thought into making enemy-specific weapons upgrades, but on the most dedicated of gamers will be able to make on-the-fly modifications to build the right weapon for each wave of enemies.
By far, the most surprising feature of Dungeon Siege comes in the excellent presentation quality – everything from the fantastic motion-comic backstory in the beginning of the game to the in-game cutscenes throughout the campaign, from the top-notch voice acting to the Mass Effect style dialog mechanic; Dungeon Siege III is simply dripping with excellent production quality. Add to that the detailed graphics and the aforementioned camera angles – and Dungeon Siege III really delivers in terms of presentation.
RPG fans are typically quite critical of game length, and most would probably be turned off by the 10hr length that the campaign takes to finish – but given the fact that the game offers unique play for each of the four available characters, there still is a lot of game to be had.
Even more exciting is the online co-op play for up to four players. And although it does come with some warts (only the host gets to keep collected items and upgrades, and the camera angle reverts to a fixed angle shared camera) it still is fun to attack the campaign with a partner or two. Sadly, local co-op is limited to two characters, but even at that, there isn’t a better way to spend a Saturday night than partnering up with a friend and slashing through hoards of enemies Diablo-style.
Dungeon Siege III might not be the best dungeon crawler ever to have graces the world of gaming – but it is a very accessible introduction for those who might be new to the genre. And if RPG veterans are willing to look past the game’s console-friendly tweaks, they are sure to find a lot of fun in the 40+ hours of gameplay that can be had with all four character types. Dungeon Siege III is more like the everyman’s adventure game, and well worth giving it a try.