Getting rid of the traditional party-based system, deep character customizations, and slower strategic format of its past two games, Dungeon Siege III is a refreshing take on the series that provides you with a fast-paced action role-playing experience that is great to share with friends.
I’ve noticed that most action RPG games suffer from an identity crisis and either give you too much fighting and little customization or they bombard you with too many potions and not enough battles. Luckily for us, Obsidian Entertainment and Square Enix have teamed up to give us just the right balance of action and role-playing in a nice looking package.
Both series veterans and newbies will fit right into the world of Dungeon Siege III as the game provides you with a brand new story set in the Kingdom of Ehb 150 years after the events of the first game. Following the King’s murder, the protectors of the kingdom known as the 10th Legion were torn apart by the ruthless accusations of a religious zealot named Jeyne Kassynder. As a descendant of the Legion, your quest is to assemble any remaining legionnaires to restore the kingdom to what it once was.
Like most action RPG games, you will be traveling through different dungeons finding loot and fighting off enemies along the way. Dungeon Siege III focuses heavily on action, and the battles you’ll encounter will flow from one to the next. You won’t have to worry about pausing the game to use items or potions because the game doesn’t have any. Instead, you characters have defensive healing stances that let you restore their health midway through battle. You won’t have to pause the game to recover mana either because the game replaces your magic consumption with a Focus meter that replenishes with each enemy you attack.
As its name suggests, you will be traveling through many different dungeons and other locations throughout your quest to help your Legion rebuild itself. The game’s camera angles consist of a classic top-down viewpoint, which was something I had to get used to after playing more modern games like the Dragon Quest series, but it works well when you have to monitor all the action on the field. The game’s layout is also mostly linear, and the map is structured in a way that will sometimes confuse you. There is no full-sized map, so you will have to rely on the game’s mini-map to know where you are going. Again, this was something I had to get used to, but it worked out in the end.
Some of the action role-playing games I’ve played in the past have either been too monotonous or too complicated. Luckily, the console version of Dungeon Siege III is a perfect fit for anyone who is looking for a great experience because it satisfies both the hardcore perfectionists and the casual gamers. As you’re playing the game’s main quest, you might also be doing two or three sidequests at the same time. Tracking quests can be easily done in the menu screen, and you can use the game’s optional “breadcrumb” guide to lead you to that quest’s next step.
Dungeon Siege III also relies on partner-based combat. While you won’t have a large party of characters to play with, you will have a computer-controlled character that will battle alongside you. You won’t have any control over your companion, but your computer partner is smart enough to cover you and to revive you when you fall. You won’t have to worry about anything except for deciding what abilities he will learn or what armor he will wear. If you want to have more control over your strategic planning however, you can also play the game with someone else in a local match or with up to three others in seamless drop-in/drop-out online multiplayer.
Playing the game with someone else lets you plan your moves and combine attacks to effectively kill off the difficult enemies and bosses. One of Reinhart’s abilities lets him speed up your attacks, so you will definitely benefit from it if you’re playing as Lucas or the spear-wielding Anjali. Likewise, the long-range Katarina can use her guns to push back enemies that get too close to your close-ranged character. My only qualm with the multiplayer, both local and online, is that you can’t transfer your character into someone else’s game and instead have to use one of the host’s characters. It is fun to loot for gold, but it’s a letdown to end up with nothing after a match ends.
Aside from their healing stance, your characters also possess two different attacking stances that you can switch into during battle. For example, the warrior character Lucas has as a sword-and-shield and a two-handed stance giving him access to different types of attacks depending on how he is holding his sword. The mathematical mage Reinhart has access to long-range and short-range attacks that affect the playing field too, and even the gunslinger Katarina has a mixture of attacks that blend her bullets with magic.
While you only have four characters to choose from, you can still customize your characters to a good extent thanks to game’s leveling up system that lets you assign specific skills to each character. As you level up, you will be able to assign a new ability to your character that gives him or her new powers to use during battle such as flame bursts, rushing attacks, and other elemental magic attacks. These powers are seamlessly integrated during combat, and because you recover your Focus meter per attack, you will almost never have to wait around to use them.
Each level you gain also lets you level up these abilities and assign proficiency points to them that further increase their capabilities. Abilities come with two different proficiency paths that can either focus on range, critical hit ratio, or stun factor, depending on the ability. This lets you create a character that fits your fighting style. You can make Katarina be a deadly sniper with the ability to stun enemies from far away, or you can make Lucas be a defensive paladin that regenerates health with ease. The game also lets you assign talents to your characters that increase their stamina, health regeneration, and affect other passive statistics. These talents can also complement your fighting style and your armor to further enhance your battles.
Despite not having health recovery items, the game gives you a wealth of equipment for you to play with. A lot of the items vary slightly in their status enhancements, so many times you will need to decide which piece of armor is worth keeping and which you will need to sell or transmute into gold. Unfortunately, you can’t check the stats of an item before you pick it up, so you’ll be often left with items you won’t need in your inventory.
If you look at the game’s achievement or trophy system, you’ll realize the developers have designed it to be replayed several times. Not only do you get achievements for finishing the game with each character, but you also get different endings and cutscenes that relate to the character you are playing as and the choices you make during conversations. The game doesn’t offer a lot of moral choices, but your decisions do carry weight in the course of your game.
The game looks great when you’re battling and the effects are smooth and polished. During cutscenes and conversations however, you will notice that the detail in the game could have been better. The faces of the characters look decent, but I didn’t get the sense that the characters were talking to me since their facial animations weren’t that impressive, nor was some of the voice work that engaging. The voices in the game are well done, but some characters sounded a bit too monotone and uninterested in conversing with my character and more interested in talking about dry facts that, while informative, didn’t help me at all. The game’s soundtrack, though, was a great combination of calm and invigorating themes that fit well with the game’s overall tone.
While the game is great as a single player title, I really suggest playing it with friends to fully enjoy it. Not a lot of people were playing the game online this week, so I didn’t get a chance to play it online for too long. I did, however, enjoy playing it to its entirety with my brother since we were able to communicate our battle strategies and make the most of our attacks. Some bosses are tricky and can only be exploited with two or more people communicating their strategies with each other.
Dungeon Siege III is long enough to engage you in its storytelling, but it is short enough to have you beat it several times with different characters. The game’s leveling up system, various characters, and its three difficulty modes let you customize it to your liking. Making its console debut, Dungeon Siege III is a great multiplayer RPG game any player will enjoy.
A review copy of Dungeon Siege III for Xbox 360 was provided to me by Square Enix. I played the game to completion and started a second game shortly after.
A copy of Dungeon Siege III for Xbox 360 was provided to us for this review from Square Enix.