‘Fight hordes of dangerous creatures in a mystical fantasy world.’
With the hotly anticipated Diablo 3 coming out in the near future (hopefully), I’ve been filling a lot of my gaming time with other dungeon crawlers to tide me over. Among these is the recently released Dungeon Siege III, the latest entry in a series that I know very little about.
Dungeon Siege III is a game that oscillates between being really fun and really dull, it has a lot of interesting elements, but the whole package feels a little bit lacking. I enjoyed the game, but don’t see a lot of replayability, the game lacks the addictive quality that has me doing another play-through of Diablo 2 12 years after its release. The Dungeon Siege series has always had a small but loyal fan base, so it’s possible that the previous games had the addictive qualities that Dungeon Siege III is lacking. The gear is dropping constantly, as it needs to do in this type of game, but there were so many virtually identical items dropping that gear management felt like a chore after a while. Side quests are generally ok, and don’t take you away from the main quest too much, but the adventures I was on never felt particularly epic. My character is supposed to be a one-man army, so I need to be impressed with his accomplishments.
The visuals in Dungeon Siege III are very impressive, the landscapes look pretty fantastic (especially the amazing Conduit world), and the spell effects are great as well. Unfortunately a lot of this great effort is overridden by terrible camera controls. While I can’t say how they worked on consoles, I found myself constantly fighting with the controls on the PC. Not only is the camera awkward to control when your character is moving, but you only have 2 levels of zoom that the game will flick between if you even brush the mouse wheel. The lack of control over the camera means that you only get to see a fraction of the wonderful content that many artists and programmers no doubt spent hundreds of hours on. At the time of writing, there was a PC controls patch in the works, so hopefully this won’t be a problem in future.
As far as the story goes, it was quite interesting. While the scale was still epic, it was nice to see a story that didn’t go along the tired old route of ‘some big evil is coming to destroy the world and only you can stop it.’ The story and history felt believable and it sucked me in to the tale of the 10th Legion. The still images with narration method of storytelling was a bit hit and miss, but I’d rather have some cool artwork with good narration than a half-baked cut scene, budgets are limited and can be better spent elsewhere. One thing that I liked is that there was a non-violent way to conclude the story (trying to avoid spoilers here). The whole story of Dungeon Siege III is full of tragic misunderstandings and it was nice to see a game story allow its characters to rise above that and make a decision for the greater good.
One thing that really bugged me about the game is a problem that infects so many RPG’s, limited party size. There is nothing that pulls me out of a game faster than being told that I can only select a limited number of companions for the next mission. This never makes any sense in these stories. My character is almost always going up against impossible odds, but rather than making sure he has the best chance of succeeding, he tells his powerful companions ‘You know what guys, sit this one out, have a beer, I’ve got this.’ In games where you can choose from many companions e.g. Baldur’s Gate II, I can see how difficult it would be to balance the game, but in a game like Dungeon Siege III, you only have 3 companions to choose from. Surely it’s not that big of a deal to boost the monster count to deal with a 4-player party? At least have some plausible story reason for the other characters to be elsewhere so I don’t feel like I’m missing out purely for a game mechanic. Anyway, I could go on about this, but that’s an article for another time.
While I didn’t really get to spend much time with it, the multiplayer implementation in Dungeon Siege III is terrible. If you want a friend to come along with you on your adventure, they can’t bring their own character along with you, they’re forced to take over from the AI and control one of your companions. They don’t earn any experience, and they’re stuck with the gear that you’ve decided to give to your companion. This is basic stuff that is pretty unforgivable. If a 12-year-old game (Diablo 2) does multiplayer better than you, then you know your game has a problem. There have been a number of console ports coming out lately with terrible multiplayer implementations, which makes no sense given the huge focus on multiplayer in the console market. Hopefully the problem won’t persist.
Overall, Dungeon Siege III is an enjoyable way to pass the time while you’re waiting for Diablo 3, but it won’t be remembered as anything special. If you’re looking for something different after your 50th play-through of Diablo 2, then it’s worth checking out.
What I Liked – Interesting story. Non-violent options. Some good voice acting. Pretty landscape graphics.
What I Didn’t Like – Not allowed to take more than one party member. Multiplayer implementation is terrible. Too much useless gear.
Rating – 3.5 out of 5 (Enjoyable)