Dungeon Siege 3 Review
Written : Tuesday, July 05, 2011
By: Lee Abrahams
It seems that old-school (or should that be skool?) dungeon crawlers are slowly creeping back onto our consoles. Obviously the daddy of them all, Diablo, has long been in the works but in the interim we have had a few interesting XBLA titles to dabble with, as well as the recent Hunted: The Demon's Forge which did a decent but not spectacular job of filling the void. Next into the breach is Dungeon Siege III and here’s hoping it can get us back into some good old fashioned killing and looting, in the name of justice of course.
First of all, it should be made clear that despite any information that may sway you otherwise, this game is really not that ideal for groups of people to play together. Sure you can have four players, but considering those players can only choose a character that is not already in use and cannot take any of the items and progress away with them to their game, then what's the point? As a game that seems to have been ideally set up for people to drop in and out of play with four characters this seems like a baffling design choice, and one that makes the game far easier to play solo. If a lot less enjoyable because of it.
Looks like someone borrowed a couple of Needlers.
Sure there is fun to be had with a party of four, but the confusing camera and confined spaces coupled with the fact only the lead player is really benefiting from the team’s progress and has the final say in all decisions means it is a short lived thrill. Assuming you go it alone then you'll have an A.I. co-op partner watching your back and they do a good job of using abilities and keeping you in tip top shape as the need arises, though they are never quite as helpful as a human buddy would be. Thankfully the action is never too taxing regardless of the back up at your disposal, though all too often it devolves into random hacking with very little in the way of thought or strategy.
Each character has an array of abilities to choose from that you can level up as you go, as well as improving the proficiency via repeated use. It’s a neat system and though you can't max out everything possible in one playthrough, it means you can focus on those skills that appeal to you and create your own unique version of each character. The only problem is that while some of the spells and abilities certainly look the part, with some wonderful on screen pizzazz (yeah, I went there), they never feel too dissimilar from one another in terms of damage or effect. It doesn’t help that none of the four protagonists are that interesting either, with the whole posse being rather bland and facing off against an equally drab set of villains.
It’s getting hot in here...
In truth the plot is merely a device to move the game forward and get you orientated towards your next major quest or set of subquests should you feel like a bit of sidetracking. Again though, nothing feels like an absolute must-see as the range of loot on offer throughout your journey feels like more of the same. There is never a point where you pick up an all-powerful weapon and marvel at its destructive prowess. Instead you snag everything you can and occasionally chop and change your gear as the situation calls for it. Part of the allure of having a loot system is the chance to stumble across epic swag that no one else has, and this game never seems to grasp that.
The achievements are a rather mixed bag and will need you to complete the game on multiple occasions in order to get everything done. Achieving full completion with each character as well as getting them all up to level 20 is a time consuming task, unless you join other people's games at the right time. You’ll also have to complete the game as a group, as well as doing pretty much every task in the game along the way. On the whole this is a drawn out affair unless you can find a friend with cleverly plotted saves and a willingness to help out, though at least the main story can be blitzed through in a few hours if you are so inclined – which is something of a blessing and a curse.
Death to the, err, undead.
With a rather boring plot, revolving around revitalising the bloodline of the fabled 10th Legion, and quests along the lines of go here and kill that you would be forgiven for thinking there would be precious little fun to be had here. However, in spite of itself the game can actually prove to be entertaining as you delve into each new area on the hunt for foes to slay and treasure to grab. It certainly hasn’t got the tactical skill of previous games or the story to match a regular RPG but it is certainly a game greater than the sum of its parts. If your friends can stomach being your sidekick then that can help matters along too as does the fact that your mission and conversational choices can alter how events play out, which is a neat touch.
On the whole though Dungeon Siege III is still not the return to form that we had hoped for, though it is certainly one of the better retail offerings for consoles in recent years. With a better team system and more interesting story, then this could have been going somewhere, but instead it just serves to whet our appetites for the potential release of one of the big guns in the future. Until then Dungeon Siege III is a decent way to pass a few hours but after that it will struggle to draw you back into its rather linear world again.
A decent score aside, this is by the numbers voice work and some effects that are more of a damp squib.
Pretty good in places, especially during combat, though there are a few moments where things are rough around the edges.
The combat system is fun to begin with but can devolve into button mashing if you get bored, and the story is never engrossing enough to carry things between quests.
Not the loot grabbing, enemy slaying barrel of fun we were hoping for but there are still some good times to be had here. Possibly with friends too if you can cope with the baffling multiplayer system.
A fairly bland list and one that relies on far too many repeated playthroughs or able bodied co-op partners.
A fun game in places, but after one run through of the game you will not really have the urge to go back for more. This will certainly help you pass a few hours but beyond that it is hard to see it as little more than filler for bigger and better things.