Dungeon Siege III Review

By on June 26, 2011

A game best left in the dungeons.


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First Impressions
My reaction is

One of the games that I previewed at E3 in 2010 was Dungeon Siege III – it was interesting to see as it was the first time that the series would be playable on a console. Having played the first two games on the PC and fallen in love with both, I was excited to play a working build of the game a year later at E3 2011. With the game now gone retail, I settled down to check it out on the Playstation 3.

The story revolves around the 10th Legion (protectors of the kingdom of Ehb) being accused of killing the king, and being killed off one by one. Your character is one of the last members of the Legion, and sets out to uncover the truth behind the king’s death while being constantly attacked by random thugs and creatures from the underworld. The game will allow you to pick from four very different characters, with no way to edit or customize their appearance or build your own character. First is the warrior Lucas, who has some nifty sword tricks and is capable of dealing some serious damage. Next is the mysterious Anjali who has the unique skill of shifting into her ‘spirit’ form, which enables her to summon and bend the element of fire. Reinhart is classified as a close-range mage, who mostly deals damage with direct strikes and powerful glyphs. And lastly is the ranged Katrina who is great at polishing off enemies at a distance. The storyline is fairly linear regardless of which character you start off with, apart from a few cutscenes or dialog options that are specific to your character.

One you kick off your campaign, you’re quickly taught the basics of the combat system and – tapping the X button does a basic attack, while the square, triangle, and circle buttons are reserved for your special abilities. Using any of these abilities will deplete your focus meter, but striking enemies will build the meter up again quite quickly. It’s a mechanic that works fairly well, which means that you don’t have to keep guzzling potions during battle. The abilities per character aren’t as varied as you’d normally find in an RPG, which is a bit of a disappointment when compared to games like Dragon Age which had a variety of skills to develop. I chose to play as Reinhart and was completely unimpressed by his slow melee attacks and initial Lightning Bolt ability. You can unlock a more powered up version of each ability by using it often, but this is a slow and rather arduous task. Each character can also toggle between two different ‘stances’, which also changes the abilities mapped to your face buttons. Swapping between these stances soon becomes crucial in battle, so it’s wise to spend some time getting used to each ability and working out which ones to master.

As with most RPGs, there’s a fair mount of useful items you can gather in your quests. Most of them can be equipped to your main character or to any party members you may have accompanying you, while the rest can be sold off as gold to most merchants. Side quests also litter the various levels, and talking to an NPC will kick off a dialogue with a number of options you can choose via a radial menu. What’s disappointing here is that the NPC lack much depth or real character, and instead drone off lines from a script than actually have a proper conversation.

If you get tired of going through the campaign on your own, you can have another player jump in on co-op, or if you change your game to public, other players can join in on your game. It’s not a very well-thought out system, as there’s all kinds of problems with not being able to carry forward loot or leveling up properly. There’s also the fact that you can’t have two of the same character playing in a game, which boils down to the fact that we only have four characters to begin with. It’s a game mode that could have been fleshed out a bit more, but plays like it was bundled in at the last minute. The other frustration is in how often you can die, even on the easiest difficulty setting. You are often overwhelmed by enemies, and teleporting or rolling away doesn’t seem to help when you’ve got enemies pursuing you or shooting from afar. The only saving grace is that if you have a companion with you they can revive you with a partially filled health and focus bar. You do have access to a healing spell that gradually fills your health meter, but in order to use it you need to have one of your power orbs filled up, again something that makes things unnecessarily complicated.

Graphically the game is a mixed bag – most of the characters you meet act robotically and aren’t too detailed; in contrast the levels and dungeons illuminate beautifully with flickering flames and the glow from your spells. The background score also matches the mood of the game, though the voice acting is dampened slightly by the somewhat mundane script.

Dungeon Siege III is a rather bleak addition to what was an immensely enjoyable series. A lot of things got lost in the translation from PC to console, and the somewhat overly simplified elements stand our rather poorly. It’s easy to recommend Dungeon Siege III to anyone looking for a straightforward no-frills RPG, but for hardcore players there’s certainly better things to play on the market.


The Scorecard
GAMEPLAY
7
Unimpressive combat and constant deaths makes the game less appealing to play.
GRAPHICS
8
Good level and environment design, somewhat poor NPC models.
SOUND
7
A supportive background score that props up the somewhat average voice acting.
VALUE
7
Poor multiplayer implementation means you’ll only play this twice for the achievements.
FUN FACTOR
8
Good for a couple of hours of dungeon crawling and looting.
OVERALL
7.5
A simple RPG that won’t impress fans, but still delivers a fairly enjoyable experience to gamers.

About

A former IT & Marketing Manager turned full time Editor, Nick enjoys hurling fireballs and tinkering with the latest gadgets. Follow him on Twitter as @theregos

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