You already know how Dungeon Siege III holds up on it’s native console, but does it’s jump to the Xbox 360 change anything?
It seems that in today’s world of gaming where action and shooters have claimed the throne, other genres have taken a backseat with some disappearing into obscurity. While the dungeon crawler isn’t exactly dead, it’s a kind of game that not many consider anymore when they think about dropping down sixty for the next new addition of their library. Well now, Square Enix and Obsidian Entertainment is hoping to be the harbinger of Dungeon Siege’s awaited return. Is it successful, or is this another game lost to the much joked about “Obsidian” touch?
Dungeon Siege III (PC, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 [reviewed])
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Released: June 21, 2011
MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360)
If you’re a veteran of the first two Dungeon Siege games, you’ll notice that this isn’t exactly the same dungeon experience you remember. To put it simply, in Obsidian’s hands, Dungeon Siege III could be best played on consoles and that’s something that no fan wants to hear. This game proves how the design was set to appeal to the much broader console market and how they intended to catch Dungeon Siege up to the big time RPGs of today.
The story begins with a daring escape from a force set out to destroy the remainder of the 10th Legion, which just so happens to be you. After some explanation, you know that your enemy is Jeyne Kassynder, who came into power after she crushed the 10th Legion three decades ago surrounding a dark mystery filled with accusations from both sides.
The fact that the story for Dungeon Siege III tries to be deep and is pretty heavily scripted is an obvious change from prior titles which are usually not as focused on story. You’ll find that your journey through the world of Ehb plays out in a tree of dialogue options that let you impact certain aspects of the story, such as whether a character lives or dies, or just find out more about the locations and situation at hand.
The story certainly won’t be the reason you play the game, even though it uses a large part of your time. The characters, plot, and locales are all typical fantasy and there’s not a lot of new ideas here. It achieves most of what is sets out to do but there are many times that it’ll change focus to the smaller tasks that are meant to just merely shuttle you from key plot point to key plot point. The lack of Jeyne’s presence for most of the game make the constant repetition of her full name, Jeyne Kassynder, over and over by NPCs painful.
If there is a reason to play and not to play Dungeon Siege III, it’s the gameplay. The more successful elements lie in the core mechanics of the game. The controls are nicely mapped to the 360 controller which make it obvious that this game is more console than computer. Attack, Focus powers, blocking, stance change, menu shortcuts, and activation button are all comfortably placed for quick access.
The meat and potatoes of DSIII is the combat and character progression, all of which are simplified compared to other games and even previous iterations. The easy button access makes the combat quick and easy to control though you may find tougher enemies to require a tactical approach but unless you’re new to the genre you won’t find anything too challenging. Basic attack combos, Focus-based powers, blocking, and rolling are the keys to success.
Dungeon Siege III puts in the effort to make equipping and buffing less complex than RPGs usually make it. Equipment, abilities, and items are all streamlined to menus with clear distinctions, gauges, and explanations of each. It’s very clean and all that is really required is deciding which options to expand upon come level up time. It’s also a major plus to note the transmute option which allows you to sell your unwanted items straight from the menu. This reduces clutter in the items menu.
In terms of mechanics, Obsidian dropped the ball big time in some of the most important aspects of the game. The artificial intelligence is less than intelligent sometimes. The entire game I found that, even in multiplayer, most enemies will target the human player/whoever has controller one. It doesn’t happen every time, but more often than not, I found myself surrounded by enemies or just baiting the bosses around in circles so that my partner could deal most of the damage. Luckily your partner can revive you at anytime should you die.
While the in-game camera can be atrocious in single-player, jumping into Dungeon Siege’s well promoted co-op can be even worse. I found myself off-screen just merely attempting to roll from attacks. That is the only technical reason not to partake in co-op. The real reason to stay away is if you plan to play a serious game. If you join someone’s gam, you will play using their party and you gain no return rewards for taking up arms beside your friends. But if you and your friend just want a one night diversion co-op could be a good choice for something to do.
There are other qualities of the game that are a nice touch. If you want the classic loot and treasure of the series, there is plenty to fill your need. The world of the game is also seamless and the load times are kept to a bare minimum. Unless you’re loading a save or being warped somewhere, you won’t have to sit through many loading screens. Finally, even if the game is fairly straight-forward, you’ll never get lost on your way to the plentiful side quests thanks to the breadcrumb trail you can utilize with the d-pad.
The last thing, and probably the first thing you’ll notice, is the presentation. Dungeon Siege III is fully voiced and made for HD. The game looks and sounds good, but it’s average. There’s not too much detail and on the 360, I did have some frame rate drops every-so-often. The soundtrack is also average fantasy and the voice acting is passable with some parts performed well and others not so much.
Dungeon Siege III is a fun game but if you really love the series it will let you down. While the functions of combat and character progression, the camera, multiplayer, and A.I bring down the experience the most. It’s not abysmal and is worth a playthrough if you can rent or borrow it, but after you play it once, you probably won’t come back to it.
The Good: Fun gameplay, plenty of loot, simple progression.
The Bad: A.I. is weak, Average length, No incentive for multiplayer.
The Ugly: Horrible camera, The amount of times that “Jeyne Kassynder” is mention by full name!