Review

Dungeon Siege III Review (PC)

For a series that is making its console debut, Dungeon Siege is remarkably comfortable in its new digs. Too comfortable, in fact. While this sequel offers RPG aficionados a decent slice of cave crawling action, it does feel like something special is missing from this title. With adequate storytelling, a decent eye for combat and enough loot to make a Somalian pirate weak at the knees, Dungeon Siege III's appeal will almost certainly depend on how much you enjoy the genre.

It's obvious early on that the series works perfectly on a controller. In no time at all, you'll be ready to hack your way through waves of enemies, as the game quickly teaches players about different weapon types, abilities, and various talents that can be levelled up. After choosing one of four characters, and strolling through a tutorial serving opening, you should be set for a smooth journey. There's a lack of customisation options when selecting your character, as unfortunately, players can't rename to their favour. As expected, each hero has a different method of attack, be it Lucas' close combat or Katarina's ranged gun shots, and should slot in for any style of play. Depending on who you choose, your story will play out slightly differently, as each character has a different relationship to the fallen Legion empire that must be restored.

Your choice of character will depend heavily on your playing style. Swords or sorcery?

Although this seems like a moral choice early on, Obsidian Entertainment haven't capitalised on the potential of such an engaging narrative. Characters are dull, and speak with the emotion of a newly divorced sloth. You'll often stumble across allies and enemies who will initiate in a Mass Effect style conversation; one that tasks you with selecting an answer. Occasionally, your choices may effect events later on, but for the most part, your answers will always lead to the same conclusion. Whether you miss a snippet of information, or another anecdote about the much feared Jeyne Kassynder, failing to ask the right question never really makes a difference to your quest. This is hugely disappointing, as it feels like an opportunity missed by the developers.

This lack of captivation begins to seep through the rest of the game after a few hours play. The art of looting is what makes the RPG genre so appealing, but Dungeon Siege III glosses over it in the simplest of fashions. Plenty of treasure resides across the world, but you never feel like you've stumbled across a rare item or something that'll improve your abilities massively. One sword looks just like another, meaning it's rare that you'll feel that step up in power when your character gathers momentum. Even abilities, which are powered by landing normal attacks, often tear through enemies with an underwhelming thud. Levelling up isn't particularly rewarding, as all you'll receive is the chance to improve your critical hit percentage and other, lifeless statistics.

As a heavily action-based RPG, there's plenty of opportunity to receive a beating yourself. Progressing through, it's a good idea to save your game at every chance you're given, as it's possible to fall quite a way behind if you bite the dust. For the most part, bypassing the threat of your enemies relies on spamming the attack button, but there is a slight variation when you're heavily outnumbered. It's often a good idea to corner off a few foes and attack them at the same time, a tactic that limits their output of aggression dramatically. When the going gets tough, you can dodge out the way of oncoming bullets and spells, as well as launching one of your own game changers. Whether this is a simple rush forward with your shield or an inferno of protection, it's often the difference between advancing or becoming mince meat. This is one game where you can't rely on the endless intake of potions to keep you breathing either, as Dungeon Siege III actually tasks players with an admirable challenge when trying to stay alive.
Conversations become dull rather quickly- even more so if you have died and are forced to play through them again

Co-op play has been included, but for the most part, it's irrelevant. If you enter a peers game and they've chosen the same character as you, you'll have to be somebody else. There's also little room for character development, as Obsidian shoot one of their potentially best features in the foot before it's even given a chance. If you're playing with somebody you know, then there is fun to be had here. If you're looking forward to hopping in and out of strangers' games, then don't expect to see any meaningful development for your own character.

Dungeon Siege III falls victim to its lack of ambition. With a little extra guts, the developers could have installed an engaging narrative, memorable characters and an online component that would prolong the title's life. Instead, what we have is an emotionless, unrewarding journey that shies away from doing anything special. As a first crack, at least Obsidian have shown that the series has the potential to blossom away from the PC. Right now, there's plenty to enjoy about Dungeon Siege III, but an air of limitation is impossible to escape.

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Comments

By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 28, 2011
herodotus
I haven't read anything in the review to get me mildy interested in picking up this game now. The first two titles in the series were "okay", but only that and I did have high hopes for this one (after the the desperate disappointment with "DA 2"). Meaningless conversations and lack of customisation is the way back, not forward.
Thanks Nick.