Dungeon Siege III
Dungeon Siege has always been an action-RPG series that had the ambition of Diablo but never managed to create that same hack, slash and item-fever of Blizzard’s title. That didn’t spoil the fun, though, as you got more than enough clicking fun to keep you occupied for hours. The release of Dungeon Siege III, with co-op and for the first time also on console, therefore made my heart beat a bit faster. Unfortunately especially that co-op promise was all but fulfilled by Obsidian Entertainment and this episode doesn’t manage to live up to my average expectations.
One things that’s done well is the basic feeling you want from this type of games: the graphics, sound and atmosphere build a party each time you put new loot in your backpack and it’s fun to build your character and make it stronger and cooler. Your gear is also nicely portrayed so that you really get the feeling of going around with a kick-ass dude. But that’s also something the recently released Torchlight did on Xbox 360 and that for quite a lot less money.
So where’s the difference? There’s of course the story that’s centered around Jeyne Kassynder – the female baddy -, the Legion (you play one of four characters that are linked to it) and of course a kingdom in chaos and trouble. What gets noticed is that obviously more effort was put in developing the storyline and dialogue. You can make choices that influence later happenings and also depending on who you play with things turn out differently.
We call that praise-worthy as it works and the makers aren’t afraid to tie solid consequences to your actions (plenty of people die), but all in all the story does tend to leave you a little cold and these possibilities only make for more replayability instead of an immersive adventure. Still, replayability is quite important as other than you might expect, you’ll get through this game in no time. In only one weekend you can kick Jeyne’s ass and restore the Legion in honor. Painful, especially for older gamers like me who remember Diablo and Baldur’s Gate.
But as said, you can go through the story in multiple ways. With a choice of four characters everyone will be able to play their own way, but the question does pop up why the devs didn’t just let you completely free. Probably that has to do with the dynamic storylines and dialogues. Luckily they are different enough, from magic with Anjali to Katarina to kick ass from a distance to the tougher dude to poke holes with at close range.
The latter can be done on locations and in dungeons as you might expect. The typical lineup of skeletons, bandits, bats, animals, zombies, wizards and monstrous or magical bosses pass by as you work your way through dark forests, gloomy dungeons, mysterious swamps and populated areas. The environments are relatively limited in the way that most of the game is set in relatively small and locked down areas, but this gets compensated by very atmospheric lighting effects, even though we would have liked to see more detail and variation. However, that’s something we think of with a lot of games on console lately.
The way you fight is a bit special but works quite well. You choose for one of the stances: close or long range, and within those two you have a number of possibilities to attack. Next to that you also have passive skills and defensive powers like blocking and rolling away, and you can of course build out and improve all of these. An adjustment compared to previously, but it works well on console. In the end it’s all about action here and that’s done more than well.
So let’s have a look at that co-op! First disappointment: instead of going out with a full party like in previous Dungeon Siege games you now go on adventure with only two and you can only control the character you choose at the start. Your partner can be played by a friend locally, and with more online, something that as always makes a game more fun and exciting. The biggest flaw here, however, is that when you go into someone else, your own character won’t get any additional experiene, gear or other rewards. It will be a nice session but nothing more. Painful and a missed opportunity as in an RPG it’s for a large part about that building of your character.
In the end Dungeon Siege III is a decent action RPG that will bring quite some fun with its strengths and despite its weaknesses. It’s beautifully created, has a story that won’t be remembered but does offer a lot of variation, and a basic gameplay that’s very tight, and it will appeal to people who like building a character. Too bad the co-op doesn’t deliver in that regards and due to the lack of anything to make the game special special and the rather short lifespan for an RPG we have to see this title as a decent snack rather than a main course.