Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Dungeon Siege 3 Review

A new Dungeon Siege game has been a long time coming. The last game being almost 5 years ago, the Dungeon Siege series has been a pioneer in co-op gameplay, and... well... dungeons. So, without further ado:

Obsidian came into this new Dungeon Siege game with quite a few new ideas for direction, while obviously trying to preserve it's 'spirit' if you will. 

Fans of the series will first notice a complete re-shuffling of the skill/ability system. Gone are skill ups based on usage, replaced with a series of special moves of offensive and defensive tac and a smattering of incremental  changes to the character's base stats. 

Each of the 4 presculpted characters has its own backstory, as well as a set of unique moves and two different forms (mostly one aoe form and one single-target form for each). 

The result has much less depth then the originals, but actually works well in what it was designed to do--make it a more 'pick up and play' experience. Not necessarily a bad thing, it matches the overall direction of the recent RPG market. 

Gone are our stalwart mule friends from DS1 and 2, so RIP Jimmy the half-crazy mule who lasted 5 campaigns ;_; (screenshot from DS1:legends of Arana)

If the differences had stopped at that, then this title would have been a great new addition to the series.. unfortunately it goes downhill from there. 

I won't sugar-coat this. They completely screwed up the co-op. Basically, the co-op games can only have one of each of the character types. Both you and your friend love playing Lucas? Too bad, that would break immersion (in an action rpg... lol). Also, nothing you do in co-op games can carry over into single player so you cannot continue the story or keep playing your co-op character without a friend...

Emphasis has shifted in this game from combat (the focus of all previous games) to story. There are very clear reasons why the focus was on combat in all previous games, replay value. You played through the game with your buddies, then played it again on a harder mode. A simple formula, and one that has worked for many years.

As you can see the graphics aren't all that spectacular, but they make up for it with very high performance on pretty much any viable system.

Items have also been simplified. Sets of items and uniques have always been part of the series, and are one great way to keep the experience interesting, but now there are only 'rare' items... and little else. 

Games like this have been made over and over again, and I would have liked to think that the format has been refined slowly, culminating with the most recent Titan Quest. With their major break from these norms they get a worse experience, no way around it. 

The story is quite good, its true. Fate of a nation, a deep history, interesting characters--they all come together to make a great narrative worth seeing. 

Wasn't isn't worth it is actually playing the game in the way it was intended on PC. The controls on the PC are a mess. You move with the right mouse button... and attack with the left. Thinking about this a few seconds you can probably figure out the problem in a game where staying still equals death, not to mention you have to dodge with the mouse direction as well. 

Many have come to label this condition 'consoleitis.' That characterization seems to hold true here. The developers have promised to fix some of the control issues in the next patch, although they haven't announced when that might be yet. As it stands now the controls and what they do are a complete mystery except with trial and error, another laughable oversight. 

Anyone remember this move? A film adaptation of the series by none other than Uwe Boll. I actually liked it, but I think I was the only one :P

I know this review has come off as deeply negative up to this point, and with good reason, but this game actually does have some charm. If you can hook up a controller and ignore the PC controls and get into the story with a friend online or on the couch at home, it can be a pretty good experience. 

The combat dynamic in co-op is solid, with every character contributing something unique to the battle. You can run through the main story with a friend in a couple nights worth of sessions, and you won't be disappointed. 

With a bit more complexity, some work on the coop, and the promised control fixes this would have been a solid title. As thing stand, however, I can't recommend it very highly.

Story: 8/10
Co-op: 7/10
Graphics: 8/10 (It can run very well on older systems, and blasingly fast on newer ones.)
Sound: 8/10
Gameplay: 7/10 (would have been 9/10 if it wasn't for the bad controls)
Overall: 7.5/10

FINAL VERDICT: Pick it up if you have a craving for action RPG. It may hold you over till Diablo 3, but I wouldn't bet on it.