“I am Lucas Montbarron, smasher of crates, collector of shiny loot and wielder of pointy swords. Fear my +10 to Doom!”
If the above words strike fear into your gaming heart, Dungeon Siege 3 arrives to sooth your pains. For those of you that have never played any of the Dungeon Siege games, the third game in the series is a very different bag of loot. To cut it down to the bare bones of gaming, Dungeon Siege 3 is an Action Role Playing Game (ARPG) focussing around killing monsters and collecting shiny objects to further your monster bashing abilities. Sounds interesting? Read on my loot addicted friends!
As the story beings, the world is in turmoil and as one of the last surviving members of the Legion, you fill the boots of one of the four main characters who, unlike a large majority of RPG’s out there, don’t follow the usual Mage/Warrior/Rogue/Busty Wench archetypes. It is certainly refreshing to see some different styles being added to the mix. Each of the four characters has their own specific weapons and armour to collect, so those wanting to create some wonderful menagerie of weapons will be left a little disappointed. The game makes it easier to spot what is usable for each character, by showing a little portrait picture on the loot. Various items have numbered stats attached to them. The more of one number you get the better your character, so with more Stamina, you get more Health. The main key is figuring out which stats are more appropriate for certain characters. While the game does a poor job at explaining these stats, the majority are either self explanatory or hidden away within the games various Help Topics.
Each of the characters plays very differently from each other, so it really does warrant playing the game through several times to see what they all have to offer. It does take a while to figure out how the various menu’s work, especially when it comes to equipping items. The sad news is that Dungeon Siege 3 lacks a New Game+ option, so those hoping they could run around the land with their powered up character will feel a little left out. What is even more saddening is that Dungeon Siege 3 has very half-hearted multiplayer options. Instead of each player taking in their character for some co-op fun, the host is the only person that keeps their player. Everyone else just controls the NPC partners you usually get in the singleplayer campaign. This seems like a really poor design choice to me, since so much of the replayability of these types of games is based around the multiplayer offering. Yes it is still fun to stomp around the world with three other friends, but it seems like self-gratification since only you get the benefit of playing. If you regularly play with the same few friends, you might not even notice this issue, but it certainly seems lacking in this day and age.
Being an ARPG, the focus is directed towards action, so the combat and controls are streamlined towards consoles. This might seem a little odd since Dungeon Siege was first made for the PC in mind, but Dungeon Siege 3 is still a very capable and fun ARPG. Combat is split between two stances for each character, and each stance uses its own specific weapons or items. The stances tend to be split up between single target attacks, group attacks and various attacks at close or long range. For example, Lucas Montbarron is your typical Sword and Shield guy. His main Stance is a Sword and Shield for quick attacks and using the shield to bash things on the head. This is ok for groups but he also lacks ranged weaponry in his arsenal. So what can you do? His alternate stance is a 2-Handed ability where he attacks with slow and heavy strikes, but instead of bashing things with his shield the special attacks swap out so he charges in like a bull instead, which can be used to target those pesky monsters attacks from range. Learning the abilities for each character is where the fun of Dungeon Siege 3 is initially found.
When it comes to ARPG’s, the majority do not focus around well crafted stories, since players focus around killing things and picking up shiny loot. Dungeon Siege 3 has an interesting story which you catch glimpses off right from the start and then sprinkled throughout the game as you accomplish each key task. Lucas is your typical Knight character and his main focus is always about the Legion, which his ancestors play a key role in. Reinhart Manx is Dungeon Siege 3’s Mage type character and he spends most of his time cracking mathematical and science jokes. Katarina is your sassy minx gunslinger, replete with sultry voice and inappropriate battle attire. Anjali is possibly one of the more interesting characters to play as. She is a Fire Archon, where she swaps between Human and Fire form based upon her combat stances. While she initially seems like an emotionless puppet, she is one of the only characters that feel like you could alter her through choices you make in the game. All of these characters have the Legion in common but throughout the game you make various choices that not only alter things down the road but also what kind of ending you will receive.
While not the most stunning game to look at, Dungeon Siege 3 certainly provides a huge amount of variation when it comes to localities. From forest glades, murky swamps, ice caverns, creepy mansions and rotting crypts, then on to mechanical towns, they all look very distinct. The downside is that many of the towns and villages you visit feel lifeless. Even the major cities you visit have various characters aimlessly wandering the streets. Once you get into the other locales this all changes, because nearly everything suddenly becomes hostile, so they will all be lifeless sooner than later. While the majority of locales look really nice the player and non-player characters look a little rough round the edges, not just in terms of graphics but the lip-syncing that is matching the voice over is also pretty poor. Again, this is an Action RPG, but it is hard to get really wrapped up in the storyline when many of the character voices come across as disinterested.
So, is Dungeon Siege 3 a good game? At about 6 or 7 or so hours, it is not the longest game. So it boils down to what kind of personality you have. If you love killing things to see what shiny objects drop out of them, then Dungeon Siege 3 is well worth your time and the 6 or 7 hours could turn into 20 or 30 once you get hooked. If you are looking for something with a bit more depth, beefier online options and something to tax your brains, then the game might be worth a quick try, but Dungeon Siege 3 is not doing anything revolutionary for the ARPG genre.