Game Rant’s Jason Weissman reviews Dungeon Siege 3
Dungeon Siege 3, the newest sequel spawned from Gas Powered Games’ original Dungeon Siege title, returns PC gamers to the world of Aranna as well as its political conflicts – and finally brings console gamers along for the ride.
This installment, however, was developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Square Enix, who acquired ownership of the series. Does this version live up to the lineage of the franchise or does it resemble the unfortunate movie spin-off In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale?Dungeon Siege 3 takes place in the Kingdom of Ehb about 150 years after the events of the original Dungeon Siege. The force responsible for keeping peace, the 10th Legion, was accused of killing the former king, and as a result, is nearly extinct. The accusation of regicide originated with the “living saint” Jeyne Kassynder, who then rallied her followers in Eastern Ehb to eliminate the 10th Legion and start a civil war with those still loyal to the monarchy.
In the single-player game, players will select one of four characters to restore the 10th Legion to its former glory and to take on Jeyne Kassynder and her forces. Throughout the course of the story, you’ll be accompanied by one of the three non-selected characters. As we stated in our preview of Dungeon Siege 3, the gameplay is very reminiscent of Raven Software’s Marvel: Ultimate Alliance. One major difference, however, is that Dungeon Siege 3 relies on an isometric overhead camera. Via the right analog stick, players can switch on the fly to a more conventional third-person point of view, but nether camera angle is perfect, as there will be moments where the onscreen action will be obscured. Fortunately, this only occurred on rare occasions during my playthrough.
The world of Ehb offers a nice bit of variation. You’ll take on enemies in The Rukkenvahl Forest, the steampunk town of Stonebridge, an icy mountain pass, and multiple dungeon settings that avoid reusing maps. For a dungeon crawler, the visuals are sharp and quite impressive on the PC when cranked to the maximum settings and framerate drops were never an issue. Occasionally, some NPCs popped into frame, but never in a way that would put a player at a tactical disadvantage.
The gameplay is a fairly straightforward click – and click some more – affair with some occasional conversation cutscenes thrown-in. Despite the simplicity of the combat, it is strangely compelling – and it’s easy to lose track of time during the playthrough. While Obsidian is allegedly taking measures to make the game more mouse/keyboard friendly, PC gamers should be warned that Dungeon Siege 3 is, for now, clearly designed to be played with a controller. If this is not an option or insults your PC gamer sensibilities, you’ll want to wait for Obsidian to issue its update before making a purchase.
The conversation trees manage to move the narrative along, but are somewhat superfluous as the responses you choose have very little outcome on the game’s ultimate resolution. This is not a Mass Effect or The Witcher type of game with branching storylines that depend on different choices. However, if you select the “right” answers, you will improve your relationship with your companion character, which results in slight bonuses to your character’s skills. During these sequences, the character models are visually appealing and the voice acting is generally good, with a few exceptions, but it’s a little oft-putting that the camera only focused on the person you are speaking with during the conversation sequences, and on the couple of occasions when you can see your character onscreen, their mouth might not move while talking.
While the story is very linear, there are a few sidequests you can pick up along the way. Just don’t expect them to add much to the overall narrative. Obsidian designed this title to be as streamlined as possible, so that tasks that could lead to frustration (exploring, item seeking, inventory management) never pose a problem. For example, you’ll never get lost or be forced to backtrack as the game offers a glowing orb “bread crumb” trail that will lead you to your next goal, if you choose to utilize it. Too many inventory items? Just “transmute” them and you’ll earn some gold, albeit slightly less than if you had sold it to a vendor. The focus of the game is clearly on combat and looting and Obsidian manages to keep the quick pace of the title flowing nicely with virtually no load screens while traveling throughout Ehb.
One area that could have used a little more polish was the tutorial stage. Many of the game’s concepts are poorly explained or not talked about at all in-game. I would not have known what certain characteristic traits represented if it wasn’t for the “Help” section that is available from the pause menu. This would not have been such a big deal if only conventional terms from other RPGs were used, but traits such as “Doom” and “Warding” are not going to be meaningful to the average player. Not that it really mattered too much, since much of the random loot drops were so underpowered at the time you collect them, figuring out which items to equip was almost always a no-brainer.
For an RPG, Dungeon Siege 3 is not particularly long. Players will be able to complete the game, including all the side quests, in about 10 hours. That may be a little short for some, but it felt like the right amount of time for the type of hack and slash gameplay offered. While the boss battles could present a momentary roadblock, normal difficulty will not present much of challenge for most experienced gamers even when accompanied by an AI companion.
If you prefer to play with your friends, the multiplayer option allows up to four players to complete the campaign simultaneously. In a move that will disappoint some, Dungeon Siege 3 only allows for one player to keep all of their stats and recovered loot. Consequently, those who join the main player’s game will be along just for the ride. If holding on to your loot and XP is not a major priority, playing with friends offers up an entertaining experience – as the action is fast paced with few breaks.
Dungeon Siege 3 is one of those odd titles where the sum of whole definitely equals more than its individual parts. Certain aspects of the game clearly were underdeveloped, but they rarely get in the way during this fun little romp. In the end, Dungeon Siege 3 offers an addictive experience, whether you play solo or with friends, so long as you don’t mind its shallow RPG elements.
Dungeon Siege 3 is available for the PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.