With Obsidian Entertainment’s last game, Fallout New Vegas still going strong, it seems that the studio is determined to keep the momentum going and now with the arrival of Dungeon Siege III, the developer is looking to pick up from where the series previous developers, Gas Powered Games, left off.
Dungeon Siege III sees you play as a descendant of the 10th legion, whatever character you choose to play as. Basically the legion has fallen into poverty and Jeyne Kassynder, a loyalist to the church has declared war on the other half of the legion which she has broken away from. Soon into the game you discover that Jeyne has put out a bounty on everyone left in the 10th legion, which of course you are part of and you are tasked with saving the legion and generally kicking as much butt as possible along the way, while gaining in wealth and experience thanks to all the loot which you will find in your travels.
The title is essentially a co-op game, therefore you are always accompanied by a partner, be they AI controlled or controlled via an online player or local friend. You start off by choosing one of four character, each of which has a different class and nine core abilities, split into defensive and offensive styles. As you would expect from an RPG, as you play through the game each of your abilities can be improved by leveling up and gaining experience points, meaning you can mould your character in a way which suits your playing style.
In addition to the standard abilities that you will upgrade, characters can also have empowered abilities which are gained once you have used a special ability enough times. Empowered abilities are a lot more effective in battle, although they do drain your power.
Using your special abilities during combat will see you spend your focus points, in turn defeating enemies will see you gain focus, so it’s just a question of balance when you are on the battlefield. This is similar to power, which is used for power attacks, defensive abilities and, as mentioned, empowered abilities. Interestingly there are no potions in Dungeon Siege III, so healing comes down to using abilities and collecting orbs which are generally found by defeating enemies. Orbs come in different forms, some replenish health, while others will help to replenish your focus and power.
The combat is very interesting in Dungeon Siege III, there is no turn based action here, instead you go head first into the battle, making use of the aforementioned offensive and defensive abilities to win the day. It’s all quite free flowing really considering each of your abilities is mapped to a button. This means that one minute your attacking an enemy with your weapon, while the next your jumping out the way using your defensive abilities then attacking a different enemy with a flame spell. There is certainly a wide variety of enemies to use your attacks on during the game, although the main problem is that once you are powerful enough there doesn’t really feel like anywhere else to go.
As with all RPG’s there is a story behind what you are trying to achieve and in the case of Dungeon Siege III your actions can actually affect the outcome. As you play you will embark of various quests, some simple and some which will effect what happens later down the line. Some actions performed during quests may actually affect your objectives, which makes things a lot more interesting than following a linear path through to the end of the quest.
The games multiplayer is both great and a big let down. Playing offline you and a partner may sit down together and play through the game, with the second player having the ability to choose any character class which is not in play. Online is similar, although you can’t import your main character, therefore you must choose a character from any class not already active within the game, although since you can’t see this character once you are disconnected it’s a bit of a disappointment really, after all RPG’s are all about progression and growing your character. Not being able to import your character and progress them offline all makes things feel like you are playing an action game rather than an RPG. The ability to take your character from the main game and progress him further would have been a much more interesting prospect.
You can actually play with four players online, however I wouldn’t recommend it as the game just doesn’t feel like it’s designed to be played in this way. Maybe you will have better luck than me, but in my games the camera was very jerky and it wasn’t a pleasant experience.
Presentation wise Dungeon Siege III is of a fairly decent standard, the menus are well designed and easy to navigate, while the character design is passable. Perhaps the most impressive part of the title is the effects seen when using spells. Unfortunately the sound isn’t so good, the voice overs feel like they have been read straight from paper, with no real enthusiasm whatsoever included, it seems that for Dungeon Siege IV someone should get the happy sauce in.
Dungeon Siege III is a decent attempt at an RPG, it certainly has everything you would expect, from fast paced combat to magic and loot. The only thing which lets it down really is the story telling and the online play, which certainly could have been a lot better. RPG’s fans will probably forgive it’s flaws, but if you would rather wait then Elder Scrolls Skyrim is where it’s at for RPG fans this year.
Rating: Average Review policy