Note to the readers: Sorrows of End has NO experience with the Dungeon Siege saga, as this is the very first time he has attempted to sit down and play this saga. Since Sorrows is a 100% “hardcore” gamer, this is a complete un-biased review of a genre he is not comfortable with.
Yes it is true, this genre of “hack ‘n slash RPG” (or any other RPG for that matter) is not my cup of tea; to be even more honest, and I generally despised the genre because I did not fully understand it. I wanted to go out on a limb here, so I contact the fantastic people over at Obsidian Entertainment / Square Enix about this one and they graciously sent me a copy before it launches on the 21st.
It is pretty safe to say that I have no clue about the entire Dungeon Siege saga; I have heard of it, but never actually sat down and played it. So before I did this review, I tried to do as much research as I could so if my understanding is wrong, just remember this is out of my comfort zone. With a lot of skepticism and just a general feeling that this experience was going to be horrible, let’s get started on the review shall we?
Reluctantly I put the disc into my Xbox 360, and took a deep breathe not sure what I got myself into. The splash screens came up, and I started feeling a bit better about it; finally I got into the game and paid very close attention to all of the tutorials. Right at the beginning I was impressed with the amount of detail put into the level, the foliage looked pristine, and the details on the architecture looked even better. This is generally a good sign, when a game looks as good as it does. Normally though, it was always my understanding that most open world environments looked like they were drawn by a 4 year old, but this was not Dungeon Siege III.
Graphically I was pretty astounded by the amount of detail that went into each and every area I visited. One thing though that really caught my eye was the fluid (water) in most areas. Later in the game you end up visiting a bog, and the water just looks fantastic; the right amount of reflection and reacts to your movements. You are probably asking why is this important? Well for a Level Designer (me) this is a huge thing; to have water that does not respond or has no reflection is a disaster. Other than the fluid, I was quite impressed with the textures on the architecture. For instance, once you play it, if you take the time to look at the statues or buildings just sit back and admire them.
The AI is actually one of my favorite things about Dungeon Siege III; not too smart, and not too stupid. Maybe it is just that enemies in numbers appear smarter than they truly are? The entire enemy base seems to work well together, it is usually a predictable rotation however as to who will attack you next. Of course this is not a game shattering thing as there are far more games with worse AI. The AI in Dungeon Siege III however does lose its predictability when the difficulty escalates; I found that playing the game on hard offers just the right amount of challenge to a player such as myself. It took away that entire predictability that went along with the Easy difficulty and really did challenge me at times.
My party however did exactly what I had hoped it to do; attack enemies. When the game asked who I wanted to be, I had picked Lucas Montbarron who is a swordsman; my party consisted mostly of playing with Katarina who is pretty familiar with guns. I did this because Lucas reminded me of Gene Simmons from KISS and I thought I could relate. Most of the time though I would usually let Katarina take care of business, as she is quite powerful when she performs attacks. Not to mention she is a ranged character, offering me the ability to escape battle and not have to worry too much about her taking too much damage. However, I did have one issue with the entire AI and that was a simple “gimme” for this type of game. I was not fond of the amount of time it took my partners to realize that I was down and I needed to be revived. Often times when I would need to be revived in boss battles, they would be nowhere up until the point of them dying. This bothered me because my close range attacks are meant for destruction whereas Katarina’s where more midrange and required me to successfully operate effectively.
Leveling up is an easy thing to do, often times you rank up after defeating a boss (for the first 15 levels) or just generally accepting a new quest. When you do rank up in certain areas, you do know it because the enemies will take 1 – 2 hits to down where-as before it would be 4-5. This is particularly noticeable in boss battles when they call upon more troops. Without giving any spoilers, there comes a point when you are in a bog facing the local tribesman leader and more enemies come to join in on the fight. Well when using the one handed stance, it takes about 1 hit to completely take them out of game, even on hard difficulty. This is a common thing, and I am unsure if this was on purpose from the developers or if it just an issue; either way I can see it being. It does help I will say that much as facing bosses is often times very difficult and time consuming. I do not have the time to mess around with their henchmen.
The skills tree is one of the most important things you need to keep your eyes on. Your skills tree consists of your Abilities, Proficiencies and Talents; judging what to use your points on is based upon how it is you play. I am more of a power type of player, so my skills where based upon that. This especially comes in handy when facing bosses or mini-bosses as your stance means everything. Depending on the weapon you have in hand it is best to often adjust between them. I for one have unique type of weapons, for my one-handed stance I primarily used a sword with +32 Poison with a Legionnaire Shield. For my two-handed weapon however, I used a sword that utilized +12 Fire damage to go along with my Abilities. Now this worked best for my playing style, and something else will work better for you.
The last thing I am going to talk about is the Items. Now I am unsure if this is normal for the genre, but items come in tons. For me this was actually very helpful, as I like to sell things I do not need while only keeping the things that might be useful later on in the game. Generally around every single corner there is an item, and just about from every wave of enemy you encounter there is another. This is not a bad thing really, but it does at times become annoying when you get really bad things. Now on occasion you will come across some pretty awesome equipment such as a shield, or an amulet. These really did come in handy for me as they usually boosted my Attack DPS and Will. If I could not use them, then I usually sold them at one of the many stores scattered around or I transmuted them.
Overall I have to say I am officially hooked on this game, going on my 2nd playthrough right now as Reinhart because let’s face it… kicking some @$$ as an old guy is pretty cool.
I have read comments from various places that have gotten their hands on the game and all they say is it is a horrible game… Let me just say that they are all wrong. Dungeon Siege III is a fantastic game, which you all should play regardless of your personal preference of genre. I really stepped out my comfort zone on this game, and I am happy that I did. Now I have something that I am genuinely hooked on. Oh I forgot to mention… it has co-op too! So once the game hits the shelves and you go out to get it, let me know! I will be happy to join your parties and have fun!