Monday, November 4, 2013

Archview #65: Dungeon Siege III

  Not like previous sieges.
 Dungeon Siege was, at the time of it's release, my favorite game of all time. Dungeon Siege 2 was excellent too, and worth upgrading my computer for. There was a PSP spin off that I didn't play, since I don't own a PSP. And now, here we are, at the third numerical entry in the series, sadly, not developed by it's creators, Gas-Powered Games, and it shows, as most has changed. While I could write about every difference with it's predecessors, I'd rather focus on the game itself.
 Gameplaywise, it's a Loot-based Dungeon Crawler, not unlike Diablo and it's ilk. DS 3 was built up with a console release in mind, so much has been worked around in order to make it work on a joystick. At the outset, you get to pick one out of four characters, each one being pretty different from each other, although the core of the story is the same for each character, and so are the sub quests. When engaging in battle, each character has two different stances, with different strengths and weaknesses, alongside 3 unique skills per stance, alongside another 3 defensive skills that are used when blocking.
 Mana is a set 100 points, and using skills depletes this gauge. The only way to recharge it is by hitting enemies. There's another "currency" in the form of orbs, restored in the same manner, that allows you to use your defensive skills and empower your other skills and normal attacks. Somewhat new to this kind of game is blocking. As the game was intended for a console release, potions have been done away with, instead, enemies randomly drop healing orbs that are used on pick up. Blocking and Rolling(Moving while blocking) soon become a must, as the game was made around these two features and enemies will rip you to pieces until you learn to defend properly.
 If you play alone, you can have a CPU ally by your side, and they are not too bad. There's offline co-op for two players, which is really cool and online for up to four players. A really small detail I liked, if your human partner is inactive for 10-20 seconds, the CPU takes over until the player presses a button, pretty handy.
 The story is decent, albeit nothing special. They tried adding choices, but they matter little, only changing a couple of scenes in the ending. While you can pick many different responses, everyone reacts to your character all the same, so it's just window dressing. There are a couple of sidequests per town, they are not too involved, but they add stuff to do, which is always fun.
 The presentation is so-so. Every cut-scene is told via still images and voice-overs, and the art isn't very good. Models look so-so, but having the armor show(Even if most are recolors) is a really neat touch, inherited from previous games. The world itself however, looks amazing. You'll traverse through many different areas, from swamps, caves, mines, snowy lands, forests and what have you, they are very colorful and detailed. On the plus side, the game loads very quickly, with very few loading screens, and them being very short. Voice acting is very unconvincing, with many characters having obviously faked accents for the sake of having accents. I didn't really care about the music, but on the last stretch, some somewhat familiar-sounding tunes played, and I smiled a bit.
 Sadly, the game is also very short, 8:30 hours long, and that includes doing everything, heck, the level cap is a mere 30. It leaves you want more, a lot more. This, coupled with the somewhat lame cut-scenes and plain character models, make it feel like a downloadable game. Clearly, the budget wasn't too large. I played the game on Normal, and the difficulty was just right, I lost a couple of times, but after learning what I did wrong and approaching the battle with a different strategy I cleared them without hassle. Basically, not a hard game, it's just right. Beating the game doesn't unlock anything, sadly, but there's a 10 dollar DLC that might be worth it.
 Lastly, and it has to be said, this is not your average Dungeon Siege game. The mechanics are very different from previous, numbered entries. Some enemies are made to resemble classic enemies(Like the gargoyles and their green energy-javelins), and some areas carry the names of towns from previous games, plus, allusions to characters from previous games. Heck, the type of areas you visit also borrow heavily from previous games, specially Dungeon Siege 1. But it doesn't feel like a numbered Dungeon Siege, the moment I stopped dwelling on it and considered it more like... a spin off, it didn't bother me as much.
 I ain't gonna lie, the game left me wanting more. I enjoyed it a lot, combat was fun, looting enemies was fun and seeing where the game would take me was always a plus, but it was just so short. The presentation felt a bit lackluster too, maybe somewhere along the line they decided to go from Downloadable to Retail. But despite everything, it was a blast, and that's all that matters really.
 8 out of 10.

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