Dungeon Siege III

9.0 Overall Score

Written by on July 26, 2011 in

The banner for the Dungeon Siege franchise has passed from Gas Powered Games to the folks at Square Enix, renowned for the RPG phenomena known for Final Fantasy, and Oblivion Entertainment, the creative force behind Neverwinter Nights 2 and Fallout New Vegas.  This installment does not turn its back on its roots garnering the talents of the original game’s creator Chris Taylor as an advisor.  The game has bravely forged its way from a purely PC game to make its debut on the console systems.  This game hopes to win the love of fans of yore and new gamers alike.  Is this new era in a hack-and-slashery victorious in its quest or will it fall to nothing?  Here are some facts to aid in the decision.

Sepia colored animated storyboards tell the story.  The game returns once again to the Kingdom of Ehb.  It is a land of Slavic Steampunk-inspired villages with extremely difficult to pronounce names.  The Kingdom has been all but decimated by the blind vengeance of a tragically flawed villain Jeyne Kassynder.  Jeyne was abandoned to be raised by the Azunite Church.  She grew up to become a leader ala Joan of Arc with a twisted sense of morality and justice.  She blames the guardians known as the 10th Legion for the death of her father the King.  As a response she has rallied the church and local folks to exact vengeance on the legion and has managed to all but decimate the Legion.  The few remaining members must gather to help save the royalist army and their Queen Roslyn.  They are also charged to stop Jeyne Kassynder before she completely destroys the lands with her misguided crusade.

This game has hack-and-slashery at its heart loosely wrapped in a cloak of a dungeon crawler.  I say loosely because the game avoids the typical deep, dark, and dank dungeons.  The gameplay is similar to genre icons such as Diablo and Torchlight while attempting to add a deeper storyline and refined graphic quality.  The colors are vibrant and the environments are crisply designed.  I found their environments very well done.  One area I found particularly interesting was the “causeway” that is a system of paths that magically form rock by rock to connect the players to different portals.  This is meant as a way to quickly transport the player to far away locations but game creators took the time to create something more.  This makes exploring the land a real pleasure.   The environment is only part of the story though. The landscape is filled with swarms of the typical ankle biter enemies meant to annoy more than terrify.    There are no health bars for these smaller beasties.  The player will see a circular design highlighting the ground below critters that get near enough to their character.  As the enemy’s health goes down the design will go from green to yellow to red then dead.  There are also a few lesser boss mobs with higher hit points and damaging auras that will provide a greater challenge.  Once the player wades through these areas they will face bigger baddies that provide waves of lesser bosses before facing their leader.  Named lesser bosses and big baddies display a health bar giving a more accurate reading.  Once the leader is defeated, the game offers the player choices on what will be done with them.  These decisions may have an effect on the final outcome of the game.  Enemies are not pure black and the shades of gray will effect alliances or enemies in the final battles.  Decisions also shape the final cinematic of the game.  This wraps up the story in the style of an old fashioned choose your own adventure book.

One might wonder what heroes are available to save the kingdom from all of this evil.  Here is the break down.  There are four player characters to choose from.  Katarina is a rogue-witch half breed female armed with pistols and a rifle.  Anjali is a female archon (a fire elemental) that can fight using a spear or fire magic.  Next up is Reinhart, an elder male mage, who fights using magic with a melee punch.  Last up is Lucas the male noble knight that fights using a sword and shield or a two-handed sword.  All of the characters are magic dealers to some degree but the pure magic characters are not the typical paper dolls found in most RPG’s  They can rush in to deal some physical blows as well as the long range spells.  The hit points can easily match the melee character with the right gear and stats.  All of this makes for some very different strategic planning.  Each player has health points, focus point (used to deal magic), and power orbs that allow the player to deal more powerful spells and damage.  The sad thing is that none of these can be regenerated over time and there are no potions to refill them.  The only way to refill health and focus is to either loot health or focus orbs or by fighting new beasties.  The player is literally fighting for their life.  Power orbs fill up with successful hits using focus.  As the player continues to use a spell they will fill up a mastery bar.  Once this bar is filled the player can serve up an extra helping of damage or heal up the group using “empowered” version of that spell.  The empowered spell requires power orbs to cast.

The player can start out with solo game eventually unlocking the other three characters as they progress.  They can choose from these characters to add an AI companion character that will help their hero advance the story.  The game has the typical main questline as well as plenty of side quests to keep the player busy.  Yes there are a couple ridiculous side quests like the one to collect slug eggs for one of the locals but most are relevant to the game.  The player can choose the active quest and use a breadcrumb system to lead them to the next step.  This is a true blessing for directionally challenged person like me.  I will warn you that players are rewarded for exploration.  There are a few hidden rooms and bonus treasure chests with rare loot that are not on the main path.  The breadcrumbs allow the player to wander from the main path without fear of getting hopelessly lost.  While travelling along the player can earn stat bonus rewards known as Deeds by doing things like killing a certain number of a particular beasty or blocking a large amount of damage.  There is also the opportunity to earn Deeds by collecting Lore in the form of scrolls and books that litter the world.  As players level they can add to their base offensive and defensive stats and tweak their “abilities” using “talent” points.    Every player can switch between two different offensive stances and one defensive.  Offensive stances are typically one for close up battle and one for long range.  Defensive stances include some sort of healing that is available for each character.

Another option is to play the game using couch co-op.   I love games that don’t forget that some people still like to play games with their friends in the same room.  The couch co-op option is very simple and painless allowing the second player to drop in and out at any time.  The second player can also change characters to anyone other than the one chosen by the first player.  This helped me become a hero with my niece and nephews at a recent gathering.  Sadly they could not join the fray together.  It did help each kid choose the character they wanted to once they got their turn.  It was also nice to choose a different character to fight a particular battle more effectively.  For example, we were battling a ferocious enemy that required the destruction of several towers while being pelted by tons of magic.  We had two melee characters and got brutalized until we switched out for the mage.  With the long range magic and the melee the big baddy was a goner.  Something else that made the game is that players can run to dead group mate and press the right button long enough to resurrect a player.  There is no need to cart tons of res potions in your pack it is a given ability to every character.  Players can also choose to play online with up to four other folks.  In multiplayer games all players can vote for the choice they want for each decision wheel even though the first player is the only one who can choose the final answer.  As each player chooses their answer an icon with their character’s face appears next to the choice.  A very simple idea but it is nice.

The game has features found in many other games that make for a good time.  The players can quickly loot by pushing in on the left thumbstick.  The group shares the loot even though much of the equipment is character specific.  Something I found while playing is that most of the loot seems geared towards the characters that are playing.  It is nice to get the gear my player can actually use.  All cash and health/focus orbs looted are shared by every player in the group.   There are also some great features that are not seen in nearly enough games.  In addition to couch co-op there is the fabulous idea of multiple save games.  The player can save up to 50 different times.  I love this so much.  There is nothing worse than having to restart the entire game over to choose a different outcome.  I have to be honest with myself.  I will never replay an entire game just to choose a different answer.  The chance to select a load game and choose a different path will tempt me to play the game more often.  Another happy feature is the ability to “transmute” loot for gold while on the road.  The player gets less gold for their loot but it saves time from backtracking to a vendor.  Another time saving feature is the display engine that continuously loads environments in the background.  This means no obnoxious load screens.  This is wonderful and helps the player stay immersed in the game.

Nothing revolutionary but what it does it does well.  There are many touches in this game that make it very playable and extremely fun.  While playing with the young crew I have to admit that kids aged 5 all the way up to, well, my age all had a ton of fun.  This is a game after my own heart with good versus evil, lots of loot, and tons of smackdown opportunities.  I have to agree with the group consensus and say this game is “Awesome”.  This game is a simple yet elegant sequel to the Dungeon Siege franchise.

A copy of Dungeon Siege III was provided to The Married Gamers for the purpose of evaluation and review.

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Author: Melisa Snyder View all posts by

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