19th June 2011 - From Obsidian Entertainment comes Dungeon Siege III, the long awaited sequel to the cult hit series. The first instalment to make an appearance on console, as well as the first to not be developed by franchise creator Gas Powered Games, Dungeon Siege III is a new direction for a lore-rich fantasy universe with a great legacy to uphold. Obsidian had a lot to live up to, and a reputation for successfully recreating sequels to uphold. But do they pull it off with Dungeon Siege III?
Like most fantasy video game series’, Dungeon Siege has a greatly detailed and interesting lore and history. The universe the games are set in is full of magic, wonderful creatures and character and everything in between. This allows a lot of leverage when making a game out of it, but in order to impress series fans, Obsidian were going to have to tread very lightly. Dungeon Siege focuses its story on a handful of characters (of which you can choose your game character from with no customisation), who are sons and daughters of the 10th Legion, a mighty force betrayed and murdered by an evil warlord 30 years ago. The characters must band together and resurrect their parent’s fallen legion of warriors and take back their rightful kingdom. It’s all a very standard affair, but like I said, Obsidian have obviously not wanted to go out of bounds with the fantasy here.
The game is an Action-RPG, but takes a lot of influence from the Dungeon Crawlers of old (hence the name), resulting in a very straight forward adventure with a few RPG elements thrown in for good measure. Combat takes place with a single-button for standard attacks with mapped special abilities on the remaining face buttons, according to the order in which you choose to unlock them via the games levelling system. Coupled with 2 fighting stances per character, this combat is actually very enjoyable and complements the style as well as it can.
The aforementioned levelling system is very basic, only allowing power and ability upgrades, not the desired skill point system that most RPG’s benefit from. Coupled with poor dialogue choices and very few moments of real decision, most of which have next to no impact on the story anyway, makes the game very weak in the eyes of an RPG enthusiast.
The game can be played co-operatively via Xbox LIVE, which makes it very easy. This is actually the most enjoyable way to play, with some friends, as Dungeon Siege III as a single-player experience is quite lacklustre. The narrative is weak, and character development is severely limited, which eliminated a lot of the sense of personalisation that comes expected with this territory.
Obsidian are known for never really updating their sequels graphical capabilities from the original games, and given they usually develop games only a year or two after the original, this usually isn’t a big deal. But when Dungeon Siege II was released in 2005 and not a lot of improvements have been made, then you know something is seriously wrong.
Visually, this game is appalling. Textures lack any real detail, and models are even worse. Characters are chunky and expressionless, leaving no room for attachment or caring, and the environment, while actually the best part of the games looks, is still bad. The design of the game world is actually pretty neat, and takes you to a great deal of unique and exciting places, it just all looks extremely dated once you’re there. Very disappointing. And the claustrophobic and constantly frustrating camera does nothing to help this.
Dungeon Siege III surprised me with the quality of its sound department seeing as it was a letdown in most other aspects. The acting in particular is of top-tier quality. While there are no known voices lending their talents to the game, the actors still output a good sense of realism and emotion in their speech.
The musical score is also decent. It isn’t very memorable, but it never fails to accurately set the mood for the ever changing environments and areas the games adventure takes you to.
Given its style and genre, Dungeon Siege III manages to deliver a relatively lengthy and ever-changing adventure the series demands. The game world is great in size and scope, but the flaws of the actual gameplay bring down the experience. So while you may get your 30+ hours of it if you like to explore and complete side quests, the replay value and overall playability of the game are far from worth the full retail asking price.
Obsidian had established themselves as the master of the sequel, delivering great instalments of Neverwinter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic and more recently Fallout, with Fallout: New Vegas. But this title does nothing to build on that reputation, instead stamping it into the dirt with not only a game that does no justice to the classic original series, but rather makes a mess of the game in every sense of the genre’s it tries to be a part of. Dungeon Siege III is not worthy of the Dungeon Siege name, and Obsidian had better deliver the goods next time if they ever hope to re-establish their good name.
AAG SCORE: 5/10
+ Enjoyable Combat
+ Co-op is good fun
+ Good sound quality
- Weak RPG elements
- Frustrating Camera
- Bland visuals and textures
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott