Dungeon Siege 3 Review (PC)

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Dungeon Siege 3 Review (PC)

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Diablo was one of my favourite games of all time. The overall concept and execution was ground breaking and it built up a huge cult following. Falling in the shadows was Dungeon Siege, another ‘dungeon crawler’ style game which while buggy was also a tremendous amount of fun. The latest title in the series, Dungeon Siege 3 was released last week and hopefully will help drive sales and satisfy the RPG hardcore audience.

Dungeon Siege 3 has very little connection to the previous titles in the franchise. Obsidan Entertainment have taken the developer role – a group of people responsible for games such as KOTOR 2, Alpha Protocol and Neverwinter Nights 2. Microsoft Game Studios are also no longer in control of publishing rights, with Square Enix stepping in. A few raised eyebrows already?

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When many heard that Obsidan Entertainment were going to be creating Dungeon Siege 3, more than a few groans were emitted across the globe. No Gas Powered games as developer? Well, if I was being honest Gas Powered Games ‘Space Siege’ was an unmitigated disaster, so perhaps a move was a wise choice.

Immediately, I was impressed with the production levels in DS III. The player is taken on a video backtrack …. an update on recent events as the game takes place. The title revolves around the ’10th Legion’, a small group of skilled individuals who have managed to keep the lands peaceful and prosperous. The rule changed hands soon to ‘The Monarchy’, who started developing some hostility (and jealousy) with the 10th Legion. Without ruining the rather enjoyable intricacies of the scripting, the king was killed and blame was passed onto the 10th Legion.

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Jeyne Kassynder, an influental (and somewhat evil) leader, put all of the 10th Legion to death. Well, almost all. The few remaining survivors managed to escape and run away to regroup, while Kassynder and followers hunted them down. The properties, estates and chapterhouses of the Legion also came under attack, with many important artifacts plundered from their walls.

Some of the legionnaires survived, with Odo – apparently the sole survivor of the Legion. Odo fought hard to stay alive, protecting his bloodline. This leads into how the game starts.

The player can take control of one of four characters, both male and female. Odo has called the Legion descendants to assemble, mounting a counterattack. Time to kick ass and take names.

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The playable characters are diverse by nature and beautifully designed. You can take Lucas, Reinhart, Anjali (my favourite) and Katarina. Each of these characters has very different skills and powers at hand and much of the game will flow around your abilities and decisions, therefore a replay is possible. Anjali, is easily my favourite, a mythical archon diety who can both fight by hand in one form, and shapeshift into another to wield magical spells of fire. Heck, she can even summon creatures during a battle, to even out the odds. She isn’t hard to miss at the start, she is the rather attractively designed (hey, don’t laugh) babe with the intense stare. Reinhart also deserves a mention, he is a powerful spell caster, skilled at fighting from a distance and toasting his enemies from afar. Katarina didn’t appeal to me, but she can use rifles and pistols to destroy her foes. Lucas is the best warrior of them all, with some immense swords available for him later in the game.

I beat the game in a few days in single player mode with Anjali as my choice (15 hours or more but I didn’t record the time closely). Initially it was a challenge as her powers were weak and I was getting frustrated. But within the space of a few hours she had mutated into a formidable warrior and magic user. I particularly liked her capabilities for creating an attack circle of fire, which also healed her as it damaged the enemy on touch.

While the game can be played on the PC with a keyboard and mouse, I found a wired Xbox 360 controller to be a much better bet. DS III fully supports the Microsoft game pad and all the controls are easily accessible by buttons and combinations of buttons. Movement alone is worth the swap from keyboard to Xbox 360 controller, it is much more intuitive. If you use the keyboard, then the game becomes a matter of mashing keys. 1, 2 ,3 keys are used to activate various abilities and the shift key is the toggle for other secondary defensive and aggressive attacks. Remember that the game is played in real time and some of the more difficult fights will punish hard for any stalling while keys are being fumbled.

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When enemies are killed, they leave behind green and blue coloured orbs. These are used to regenerate health and mana bars – which are called HP and Focus in DS III. The combat is not at all like the second title, which isn’t really a bad thing. Healing during battle is important, and this is one of the biggest niggles for me … if you take control of a warrior, the system is not the easiest. Anjali can cast a long term healing spell which can often keep her alive when surrounded by multiple enemies. Quite often I would cast a healing spell just before combat started, then the close range circle fire spell – and stand still. While the enemies would run into it to attack me, I was delivering a constant fire damage attack while healing. Chucking fireballs in this stance and summoning creatures when surrounded is one of the most deadly means of attack in the game, especially against hordes of creatures.

I have heard many complaints about the game already, saying that the difficultly level is too high, and I have to agree. Unless you are willing to persevere and have a lot of patience, the game may prove frustrating in the early stages. Again, I feel part of the problem is that many gamers will jump immediately into taking the ‘warrior’ class character Lucas. Unlike many RPG titles, I found him one of the weakest as the majority of his attacks are up close melee attacks, interspersed with a lot of potion consumption.

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Tactics are important, and it is key to your success to master the control system. While you might be able to scrape through some of the fights by mashing keys, there is a fair amount of skill involved. Even with high ranking characters there are times when a retreat will make the difference between success and death, so be warned. Dodging and blocking is easy enough. If you use the keyboard then SPACE will block an attack (not all attacks can be blocked however). To try and keep it simple, the SPACE key with a movement button will cause the character to dodge in a direction, not stand still with a simple block. Again, with an Xbox 360 controller, combat flows much better.

Sadly, the party can only consist of two players at a time, either a computer controlled AI, or another player. The game supports two Xbox 360 controllers, so playing with a friend in CO-OP is absolutely brilliant fun. I still miss the fact that the older games allowed for four players at one time. Battles were certainly more frenetic with four characters. If you die in combat then it is up to the computer (or friend) to revive you. If you are fighting a boss character then the AI might mess up and while he is trying to heal you, he is getting mauled from the back. Shouting ‘move you idiot’ at the screen doesn’t seem to help. If both characters die, then a restart from the last checkpoint is required. Save points are glowing gold pillars of light in the game.

Playing with another human player really does bring the game to a whole new dimension, because combat can become a true ‘team’ event, rather than relying on the computer AI. The AI isn’t really that bad, sure there are times it won’t do what you would like, but generally the computer will pound away at enemies and tackle bosses in a manner that is half decent. The only problem in cooperative mode is that the screen will not allow two players to split up, so if you are trying to run away to recover, you might very well get caught in the edge of the screen while your buddy is fighting other enemies. It is a sure way to die quickly, and can be slightly frustrating. If you have an aggressive friend it might be best finding another game to play.

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So far it is clear that the game has problems, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed the title and have started to replay it again. With a little patience, the flaws can be overlooked and once the combat mechanics are mastered then we are left with a really cool, fun, dungeon crawler. To be fair, the game is a little more than ‘just dungeons’, because it is packed with some beautifully designed environments and locations. Voice acting and audio is also realistically handled. With airy fantasy style music being played from time to time. We are also glad to hear that no Welsh or Irish people seem to be in the game either, unlike Dragon Age 2 which tried to hard be a multi cultural cocktail to appease everyone.

The game itself is a mixture of quests, subquests and traveling across landscapes. Thankfully you never get lost because there is a tracking system which is very cleverly designed. You can select a quest, then push a button on the controller to find the path you need to take. If you get annoyed with wide open worlds and wondering where the hell you are meant to be going , then this might very well be the breath of fresh air you want. On the other hand, it could also appear to be linear by design. Everyone has different views on it.

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There is a full system for levelling up characters, equipping them with new weapons and armor, fitting out with rings, amulets and secondary support items. Various paths can be taken in the skills menu, with other powers added as you progress, and various improvements offered as time goes on.

Overall, I feel Dungeon Siege 3 is polished, very attractively designed and a lot of fun to play. We aren’t sure that purist followers of the first game will enjoy it quite as much as I did, due to some of the points I made earlier, but I found the overall concept and structuring to be great. The story line, character development and cooperative modes ensure this is a game you shouldn’t miss. It offers enough to differentiate itself from previous titles, but it may also alienate a portion of the audience.

VN:F [1.9.8_1114]
Rating: 3.3/5 (11 votes cast)
Dungeon Siege 3 Review (PC), 3.3 out of 5 based on 11 ratings
  • neliz
    June 19, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 5.0/5 (1 vote cast)

    Dungeon Siege 1 & 2 were great games. they shone in gameplay quality but then space siege dropped.. it tanked because it was too simplified, consolified if you must. And now Obsidian does the same with Dungeon Siege III. If the gameplay doesn’t make you feel like playing.. a not too interesting storyline (in the demo I already felt like I want to click through) won’t help either.

    All in all I think it’s time people stood up for the Siege” because there are a dozen more enjoyable games than DSIII and they can be found in budget bins. (torchlight, Titan Quest.)

    Dungeon Siege III, not a “must avoid” but definitely not worth playing.

  • Deamon
    June 20, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    As a “Purist follower of the first game.” i feel cheated. If it had another name I might have bought it after the price went down, but it was a new Dungeon Siege game so I pre-ordered it before there was even a mention of a demo.

    Now i wish i hadn’t. Objectivly it’s an OK game for some easy gaming, subjectivly it doesn’t deserve and shouldn’t bare the name Dungeon Siege. I might not feel this way if I never played one and two (I love Fallout 3 and New Vegas and I’m shure that old school Fallout players hate those as much as i hate DS3), but I did, so I do.

  • ShadowTiger
    June 20, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    I played the demo and here are some things you left out of the review.

    The inventory system is pretty bad. You have to do lots of navigating and picking up items is very tedious. They removed the ability to click a button and auto-loot the ground which was invented by Dungeon Siege 1.

    The voice acting can be pretty annoying sometimes, the writing is also a little monotonous. Hearing the guy say Jeyne Kassynder a few dozen times in the intro was pretty indicative of this to me.

    The main problem I had with it is that the game lost its open world feel. While the game was always somewhat linear, the world looked great and was fun to go off and find small branched off areas. The fact that there were almost no loading screens helped alot, everything was seemlessly integrated.

    This is not what DS3 is like at all, it feels much more crowded and guided, the only reason to look around is that theres lots of chests placed in corners and areas that you might not notice if you charged forward blindly. I think this is kind of gimmicky and contributes to the difficulty level for casual players.

    As a big fan of hardcore rpg’s, I have to say that this game is a bit of a mixed bag and doesn’t stand out to me. I would rather go back and play NWN 2 some more.

  • Dave Mack
    June 22, 2011
    VN:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    Thanks for the review as always Terry !!

  • Sq7
    July 11, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    They totally killed DS for the PC. DS1 and DS2 were epic. Especially DS2. So as a game on it’s own yeah it is fine, but as a sequel to DS2 it is a consolitis ridden disappointment. I am not amused…

  • Tom
    July 13, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    I agree w/ most of the comments. This is a fine game by itself, but it clearly DOES NOT deserve to be called a Dungeon Siege. They should of released it as a fresh game. I was tempted to pre-ordered the moment I heard they were developing DS III, now I’m glad I didn’t. The one single most annoying factor is the fact that they removed the unique leveling system where the skill(s) you use most gets leveled up faster. This beautifully-placed strategy factor is one of the things that makes a game a Dungeon Siege. Chris Taylor we want you back. GPG reclaim your treasure before Obsidian ruin the franchise even more.
    To Deamon: Yea I played the original Fall Outs too. And youre right, I hate Fall Out 3.

  • hanz
    September 22, 2011
    VA:F [1.9.8_1114]
    Rating: 0.0/5 (0 votes cast)

    hi there , i have questiion, when i play DS 3, i cannot save the game because i cant find any instruction to save , the worse part when i play untill i meet up the witch, than the battle happen suddenly my legion died becoz beat by the witch, so i wanna to save the game unfortunely there is no save mode in this game when i wanna to save, pls teach me how to save ds 3 game or give me lesson how to save ds 3 game……..tq

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