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The world of Dungeon Siege III revolves around the shadows of the former 10th Legion. Broken and hunted down, the last surviving members of a once great order have been in hiding ever since their destruction.
Renewed hope follows in the wake of four extraordinary individuals that journey across Ehb, a world filled with great magic and even greater evil by the name of Jeyne Kassynder. It becomes the players job to unite the characters as well as restore faith in the legion from its former corrupt image in a quest for vengeance and redemption.
For the first time on console systems, the Dungeon Siege series has remained largely a PC-only game up until the third and newest sequel. The exception is a PSP continuation of Dungeon Siege II called Dungeon Siege II: Throne of Agony. Another notable difference is that this time, Gas Powered Games, the developer for the first two games as well as their expansions, isn’t present at all.
Instead Obsidian, developer of games such as Neverwinter Nights 2, Alpha Protocol and Fall Out: New Vegas has arrived to take up the mantle of the Dungeon Siege epic.
The original rise and fall of the 10th legion is a sad and ironic story to behold. The 10th Legion was originally created to combat the corruption of the 3rd Legion which had grown arrogant and jealous. The 10th Legion was comprised of four character classes; the mage, the swordsman, the archer and the artillery engineer.
The fall of the 10th Legion is therefore ironic and sad because it is this very same reason given to the people of Ehb that supported the destruction of the 10th Legion by Jane Kassynder preceding the third game. In Dungeon Siege III the role of the archer has changed weapons to a long range rifle and the engineer is gone, replaced by the storyline driven archon, a fire elemental.
In Dungeon Siege III, the still image narrative style of the cut scenes will definitely appeal to comic book fans, but otherwise the storyline is done with mostly conversational video footage. Developer Obsidian chose to have only the other character visible while talking to the lead character. This narrative and conversation style may not be for everyone and leaves transitions between combat somewhat repetitive.
The standard convention of PC games (and dungeon crawlers especially) is the ability to point and click on an enemy or on an item. That’s what you might expect, except that’s not true at all. The way the game is laid out, it is readily apparent that it was meant for console gamers first and PC gamers second.
Thankfully, gamers will be able to quickly switch between two attack stances and one defensive stance with the press of one button, but this can still be a hassle for some gamers. Obsidian appears to be trying to corner the market on dungeon crawling console games, with varying success.
The menu system design are all indicative of console gaming set ups as well. Want to go between your quests and your abilities? You’ll have to back out to the main menu for that, there’s no giant toolbar at the bottom of your screen to select things. Similarly, the menu system doesn’t make good use of space, since there is a lot of blank space right underneath the weapons attributes section.
A description or character image would have been nice. The names for items don’t exactly stretch the imagination either but do a good job of describing the item and its attributes.
For attack and defense, you’ll have to have your character basically face-to-face to do sixty percent of your attacks. One of the key requirements in this game is mastering weapons and magic that can cause damage to multiple enemies. If you don’t, you’ll be left angry and frustrated. Manage the multi-enemy attacks and you’ll be rewarded with rare items and some cool weapons for combat.
Using Focus Points are all about the timing. Attacks will raise Focus Points which will be very handy for magic spells and other special abilities, such as healing. The Focus meter rises easily and often, making the addition of special spells a very welcome feature. Time things well and you’ll be able to unleash a hail of bullets or a man-slaying sword charge.
Time its usage badly and you’ll be left without any focus points at all and a huge number of enemies to fight off without magic for a few seconds. In using Focus Points, a second is the difference between life and death.
The camera can be restrictive since you’ll be able to see somewhat into the distance, but unlike most games, you won’t be able to focus too far in front of the camera. You have two zoom modes and 360 degree turning to look around, but it’s all from high angles, which may bother some gamers who look into the distance to see oncoming enemies.
A noticeable lag was evident when passing near certain areas, most likely to get back into a town. More than likely, this is because the items in the weapons store will change frequently. There are two or three separate sets of gear for each character in each store, and they will rotate as you progress through the game or through training sessions.
Three minutes can mean the difference between a sword that has a +5 attack and a +10 attack. A positive of the game’s layout is that even though there are multiple choices when picking conversations with Non-Playable Characters or interacting with other lead characters, a short cut still exists. Don’t want to hear the same story all over again because you’ve played through once or twice? Not a problem here because Square-Enix and Obsidian kept replay value in mind when they designed Dungeon Siege III.
However, your standard sword and shield knight is pretty boring but thankfully strong. Besides the somewhat flat dialogue and the monotone voice actors, the supposed son of the former legion leader Lucas isn’t as appealing as he could have been. Luckily he has good core attributes to start with and they only get better as time goes on. However, his special abilities are fairly limited to basic variants of swinging a sword or shield.
Unfortunately it seems that the two female characters in the game have all the good abilities, since they can summon creatures to help them fight. This summoned creatures are essentially a disposable third party member who can easily be re-summoned with enough focus points.
Something good about your shooter, unlike every other legion member, is that while they shoot, the character is designed to also back up at the same time. This is a useful gameplay feature versus being unable to back up and attack at the same time. When playing with the other characters, the ability to back up and attack does not exist, which will be frustrating to some players.
The ability to dodge attacks is something that will need to be learned and learned well. Not every gamer will want to spend half their time dodging enemy attacks, but it seems that this is something of a requirement, given that enemies have their own area affect spells to send back at you. Give the dodge and guard buttons a good workout though, and you’ll find yourself constantly mobile and jumping away from spells or monster attacks.
The feeling through the gameplay is that the game is quite focused. In most cases, this is a good thing because the game knows exactly what its purpose and gameplay style is, but at the same time, there is the inescapable feeling that the player is limited by its narrow scope. This is a game that asks for patience from its fans, as well as a healthy helping of determination and in return gives back a moderately encouraging always mobile gameplay.
The storyline is what draws you in but you’ll keep coming back for the characters, see Part 2 for our review of Dungeon Siege III character profiles and design.