Dungeon Siege 3 Review

Gear up ladies and gentlemen, it is time for more dungeon exploring in our review of Square Enix’s third game in the Dungeon Siege series!

The game, like its prequels, is set in the kingdom of Ehb. You do not need to have played the previous games to follow the story as the introduction explains the important details. In short, the king was murdered thirty years ago and the blame put on your group called the Legion. The king’s daughter Jeyne Kassynder took revenge and wiped out most of the 10th Legion. A few survived and the game starts thirty years later with a meeting to regroup and take revenge.

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There are four playable characters to choose from; the swordsman Lucas Montbarron, the spear wielding/fire summoning Anjali, the mysterious gun toting Legion daughter Katarina and finally Reinhart Manx a magic casting close combat specialist . All characters follow the same story pathway albeit with some different dialogue so you will not miss anything of importance choosing one over the other.

The user interface is more streamlined than other RPG’s which may or may not send you raging because you are not able to tinker with the smallest detail of your character. Character levelling up is mainly performed automatically behind the scenes. You do however get to spend points on deciding which abilities to unlock and then Proficiencies for each to improve. The third part of the manual character improvement are Talents which include increases to critical damage chances, higher damage or better trade prices at stores.

Each character has nine unlockable abilities; six offensive and three defensive. These are activated with a simple tap of their automatically allocated controller button or shoulder combination. Health and stat buffing potions are out the window, instead you simply use your abilities and health orbs during fights. Using your abilities requires Force, its bar is refilled by attacking enemies. Dungeon Siege 3 can be a difficult game, especially during the boss fights. Even on the casual difficulty you may experience problems, using your abilities is essential, so use them and use them often!

Equipment for your characters can be looted from barrels, chests and dead enemies or bought in stores. Apart from rings and amulets, each character have their own specific type of useable equipment, for example Lucas can only use swords and Katarina only guns. There are many different types of equipment covering just about every part of your body and come in a few classes including common, rare and ultimate. Each piece of equipment alters your characters core stats such as Attack, Stamina and Will and the rarer items give bonuses such as Vampire which takes replenishes your health when attacking enemies and Stagger which can cause your opponent to briefly fall back when attacked.

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Personally I think the streamlined system works very well, it makes for a much smoother flowing game without the need to visit the menus every few seconds to use a potion or reassign a button combination. It extends to the equipment menus, while you do spend a bit of time in these menus, the process of deciding what to equip is made much snappier.

The game is played either in single player or online co-op with up to three other players. Choosing the single player mode starts you on your own and as you progress through the story you meet up with the three other characters. You can only have one other player taking an active role in the game at a time which I found strange as you can play with all four characters at once when playing online. Multiplayer co-op allows for one instance of the four characters and you can drop in and out at any time. Players share the same camera view to keep all players on screen which can lead to confusion when attacking enemies if the party is apart from each other. Nearby off-screen enemies are sometimes unable to be attacked but they can attack you. The most disappointing downside is that only the host gets to keep any earned experience and loot, the rest are simply along for the ride.

The story is mainly a fairly linear recruitment drive for allies which involves completing quests to prove your worth. Secondary quests can be taken on which can add to the story and offer some exploration with a ‘breadcrumb’ style navigation system to guide the way. Your journey takes place over several areas of the kingdom, some may be familiar to those who played the earlier games. There are a good mixture of indoors and outdoor locations, though the majority of the action takes place inside. Each have their own distinctive themes and enemy types which gives the game a fresh feeling throughout. These include the usual spider filled wooded areas and the steam punk robots of Stonebridge though to monster filled dungeons, ghostly mansions and swamps.

You will often encounter dialogue with characters which are controlled via multiple question paths similar to that found in Mass Effect for example. The questions provided are more accurately described than in other games which is helpful as they can affect the storyline considerably. Combat differs depending on your character choice, the warrior gets in the thick of the action with mêlée attacks while others are best suited to stay back and use their long-range fireball attacks or firearms. Enemy targeting is automatically selected, it is perhaps more ideal for the warrior but not always the best solution for long-range attacks as it can target far away enemies and ignore those breathing down your neck.

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Graphically the game fares very well. As mentioned each area has a distinct style which are all designed well and keep the game feeling fresh. Highlights include the spectacularly bright abilities animations which vastly contrast against the often dimly lit locations. Dialogue scenes are a little static with little to no emotion from the characters which was disappointing. The camera angles follow the traditional top down view and in single player – a second view which is closer to your character. There were a few instances in single player where the camera view failed and clashed with the scenery but were not often enough to cause issues. Speech is used on all characters throughout the game and the voice acting is performed well by the cast. The music is standard orchestral style which changes throughout the game, there was nothing memorable about them but it suits the game so there are no real complaints.

I completed the game including all side quests in around 15 hours which may seem a little short compared to other RPG’s. I think that the length is just about right for the storyline and any more would have felt like filler content to add a few more hours to the game. The game is designed to be replayed with all the characters and there is enough variety to warrant completing the game with at least two characters.

So Dungeon Siege 3 may seem to be a ‘dumbed down RPG’ to many hardcore fans of the series. While this is true to an extent, I prefer to use streamlined instead as that is exactly what I think it is. It has a good balance of action and stat tinkering to make the game accessible to both action and adventure fans. Everything works exactly how it should, I experienced no issues with bugs or broken quests. It features a decent storyline, smooth flowing action and plenty of locations to wreak havoc in both offline and online. A good solid game!

The streamlined character customisation may put the hardcore RPG fans off but it works just fine. The action is plentiful and fun to play with all characters, though the poor co-op design does detract from the quality of the game.
Each area has a distinct style which are nicely designed and keep the game feeling fresh. The ability graphic effects look great against the duller areas, though dialogue scenes are visually static with lack of emotion.
Spoken dialogue used throughout the game and overall is performed well. Music is standard orchestral which is not memorable but suits the game.
8.0Final Score

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