Developed by the group behind Alpha Protocol and the smash hit Fallout: New Vegas, Obsidian Entertainment, Dungeon Siege III is their attempt at a Diablo-like game on consoles. But with tacked on multiplayer, that seems to have been thrown in at the last minute, and a short singleplayer campaign, should the game be left in the dungeon?
The story in Dungeon Siege III isn’t anything we haven’t heard before but does well enough to push people through the singleplayer at a good pace. The 10th Legion is on the brink of extinction ever since 30 years ago when they we slaughtered by Jeyne Kassyndre. As one of the few remaining sons and daughters of the Legion, it is your task to return the 10th to its former glory and put an end to Jeyne. Everything is here for a decent story but the boundaries are never pushed and there are very few surprises to be found. In fact most of the time you will find yourself just quickly skimming through the cut scenes to select a few choices and then get back to killing.
The game features something we are starting to see more often, and that is multiple dialogue choices when talking with NPCs. Conversations use the same system of game’s like Mass Effect, giving players options as to what order they want to ask questions and sometimes giving you the choice of killing or sparing enemies. Sadly most of this dialogue is watered down and lacks any sense of personality or feeling. NPCs are completely devoid of any sort of feelings; it feels like talking to a someone who just had botox and cannot make any kind of expression, only this is even worse as the character models for the dialog scenes scream of early PS2 quality.
To start off the campaign you will be given the option to choose one of four characters: Lucas, Katarina, Anjali, and Reinhart. Each of these characters has a much different style of play, with Lucas wielding swords and Reinhart casting magic. The combat system in the game is a solid and balanced system that encourages players to use both up-close and distance attacks. Use melee attacks to build up your focus (mana) and then use that focus to launch special attacks which in turn builds up something called power orbs. These orbs can then be used for empowered special attacks or for the most important thing, healing spells. It is a combat system that provides a lot of flexibility but is completely let down by the lack of any kind of difficulty. In fact, once you get down the timing of your block and roll, you will be able to take down anything the game throws at you. Oh, and if you do get fatally wounded, don’t fret, because your AI teammate can run over and revive you, so you are never in danger here.
Leveling up and collecting loot are the staples of any dungeon crawling game, and Dungeon Siege III makes sure to do it right here. Leveling up earns you ability, proficiency, and talent points. You can purchase new ability points when you level up with nine different ones to choose from and then use proficiency points to further upgrade the abilities you have. Each ability purchased can have 5 points of proficiency added to them and then talent points are used to improve the character and their attacks overall. There is enough here to make you feel in control of the type of hero you are playing, while not feeling overwhelmed by the choices. Collecting loot, on the other hand, plays a vital part in the game as there are chests and weapon racks located around each corner and, while most of your best items can be purchased, this is a great way to make some cash when you sell everything. Items found carry the normal bonuses like attack and stamina with added elemental perks like ice or poison. Really though, you can just stack up on stamina heavy items and survive just fine.
At any time during your singleplayer campaign you can change your game from offline to either online public or private and have friends join you both locally or online. The deal breaker here though, is that your friend won’t be bringing their character with them, but will instead play as more of a guest in your game. Whatever level and style you have, your party members will have when they will start. While the player joining can select weapons and abilities on every level up after that, the host player still has the primary control. To make matters even worse, weapons, experience, and gold that you earn when joining someone else’s game is lost once you exit. In fact, all gold and items accumulated during the co-op play is shared between the group, meaning you could have one guy who just buys everything for his or her self. So essentially you are starting from scratch every time you decide to play with a friend, leaving the only incentive to the multiplayer being trophies you can unlock. It would have been really nice to see the developer make a matchmaking system to let players of similar levels join up together and take down dungeons while transferring over their character and weapons.
On the presentation side, you get a bit of a mixed bag with Dungeon Siege III. The environments do a great job at bringing the world to life and the character models are well done, but NPC’s during dialogue scenes are severely lacking. Armor and weapons have a nice colorful look to them and special abilities really light up the screen, providing an extra level of enjoyment in combat. However, most of that can be destroyed by a camera that at times decides it does not want you to see what you are fighting, expecting players to use their senses to combat evil. Audio is a bit of good and bad as well with some characters sounding good and others feeling out-of-place.
With a multiplayer option that is severely lacking in polish and depth, Dungeon Siege III sets itself as a mainly single player dungeon crawler. With a campaign that was over at around 11 hours and very little replay value, the game is very hard to recommend at a $60/£40 price. This is made even worse when you can find similar titles for download at a $10-$15 price point. However, if you are in the market for a loot friendly game with an enjoyable combat system and a serviceable story then this is a game you could have some fun with. Just don’t go in expecting much at all from the multiplayer or any kind of real challenge, with even the hardest difficulty feeling like a nice stroll through the park on a sunny day.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
-Poor implementation of online co-op
-Short and easy campaign with little replay value