Dungeon Siege 3 is the latest instalment in the Dungeon Siege series and is being released by Square ENIX and Obsidian. In it we return to the Kingdom of Ehb to find the 10th Legion destroyed by Jeyne Kassynder. The last surviving Legionnaire, The Venerable Odo (no relation to Star Trek), has protected the Legion’s decedents for 30 years hoping that the time would become right to take back the Kingdom.
That time is nigh and Odo summons the decedents of the legion to meet at the deserted manor house of their deceased Grand Master. Tragically, but predictably, the meeting is attacked by Jeyne Kassynder’s Lescanzi Mercenaries massacring almost everyone there. Thankfully we are not there but soon after we track down Odo and our adventure begins.
In Dungeon Siege 3 (DS3) we play as 1 of 4 playable characters (Co-Op capable) righting wrongs and kicking ass all over Ehb in name of the 10th Legion. The game tries to be an action RPG and dungeon crawler in equal mix and while it would be an exaggeration to say that it fails at both it does not excel in either.
Part of the problem lies with the gameplay as our control system is not intuitive and this makes for a somewhat faltering start to the game. Focusing purely on the PC version we have issues such as the speed and chaos of the combat not lending themselves well to a mouse and keyboard setup. The widely veering camera is almost impossible to correct using the keyboard and when the mouse wheel is used it flicks between extreme close-up and bird’s-eye-view with no intermediate. Additionally manoeuvring on the PC caused frustration and long period of bouncing off the scenery tiring to get round the corners, a result of removing the point and click mechanic of the previous games.
We are of course presented by a wide range of button commands on then PC version but thankfully the myriad of short cut keys are explained with handy in game tutorials and generally when in doubt we simply press E or C. Where things are a little more simplistic is in the action aspect of the game which boils down to click, click, die and the mix of the two lacks the likability and depth of Dungeon Siege 2 so as a result in many ways this game is a step back from the addictive playability of the second title in the franchise.
In addition to this the RPG aspect of the game is shallow and overly simple. While it is possible to affect minor changes to aspect of your character through the sub-quests, generally the NPC interaction is formulaic, adds nothing to the plot and offers no real freedom of choice.
Having said that the plot and writing aren’t bad and the skills interface is straight forward and effective but all too often the grandiose adventure that Dungeon Siege 3 tries to inspire is shot down by the overbearing ludicrousness of the terminology. With loot items like "determined gloves", "fierce stockings" and magic headbands galore DS3 often feels like a half-way-house between hack ‘n’ slack and RPG getting neither quite right and producing nothing new.
These issues combined with the fact that the characters and their back-stories are generic and therefore not particularly engaging makes this game very difficult to get into. That said the levels do develop into something interesting later in the game but by that point it is too little too late.
In terms of multi-player a decent online co-op campaign or varied modes could have turned DS3 into something great but sadly it fails to deliver, feeling tacked on at as an afterthought and offers nothing significant above the single player mode.
Graphics and Audio
Dungeon Siege 3 is good looking game. Some nice effects are used to indicate the various characters powers and the highlight on the selected enemy makes it obvious who you are attacking. Each level has a distinct look and sound and the balance and layout makes them engaging. However while the figure movements are smooth they do lack detail.
For audio the sound track is unobtrusive background music punctuated by various grunts and weapon sound effects. During non-combative times the background sound effects subtly enrich the gaming experience and the cut scenes have a good standard of voice acting.
Probably the most interesting aspect of the Onyx game engine is its ability to prepare areas in the background minimising load screens.
Dungeon Siege 3 is a hack ‘n’ slash game which falls down in the RPG aspect or alternatively it is an RPG that fails as a dungeon crawler. For fans of the genre or series it may be a worthwhile purchase but some perseverance will be required to progress to a stage where things become more interesting and enjoyable. On a positive front DS3 has good quality environments and some inventive skills but with most aspects of this game being traceable at least as far as back to Warcraft 3 (2002 -2003) it offers nothing new.
NOTE: A patch is rumoured to be in development which will address control issues on the PC version of the game.
Difficulties with controls and average characters makes it difficult to engage with the game.
Functional but not spectacular.
Does exactly what it should, voice acting is decent.
An average single player campaign with tacked on multi-player that offers nothing.
Overall (Not an Average)
A promising game which seems to suffer from consolitis as much as lack of direction in development.