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Dungeon Siege III (Xbox 360) Review

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An Action RPG With Lacking Co-Op Mode? For Shame!

Moving onto consoles from PC, Dungeon Siege III is an enjoyable, but weaker action RPG that provides a stronger emphasis on combat and story as opposed to loot collecting and co-op play.

Obsidian, a development studio known for taking popular franchises and churning out sub-par sequels (Fallout New Vegas, KotoR 2, etc), has taken the Dungeon Siege franchise and set it in an entirely new direction; surprise surprise.

Combining the action RPGness of games like Diablo and the conversation wheel of Mass Effect, DSIII actually does a pretty good job of explaining the game’s story of revolving around the 10th Legion and antagonist Jayne Kessender, a name you will never forget because you will hear it about a million times before the game ends. And because the narrative is essentially based around four specific playable characters, character customization takes a backseat to the plotline.

Like Mass Effect, the player uses a dialog wheel to select responses during critical plot points throughout the game, each yielding a different end result.  While you might think this encourages multiple play-throughs, there is a lacking incentive to replay the campaign mostly because of the completely underwhelming co-op feature.  Any items, XP, or gold collected will immediately be lost when you drop out which makes the online co-op play little more than a mere spectator mode.  This terribly designed multiplayer feature is the game’s biggest problem, especially considering that action RPGs are best enjoy with a buddy or two at your side.

The skill tree is well design but simple overall.  You are only exposed to a handful of spells/abilities, but everything is always accessible during a fight thanks to a thoughtful face button layout and trigger modifier buttons. Like many other games, once enough special power has been stored, a more powerful version of that spell or attack can be unleashed.  Overall, the combat is actually pretty smooth and enjoyable for this Diablo-style clone, but unfortunately, the lack of quality loot is another major disappointment.

Quantity isn’t an issue as plenty of items and gear will pop out of chests and enemies.  What sucks is the lack of anything significant and no solid way to compare items to one another.  Don’t be surprised if you wear that same helmet for several hours before you find anything better.  And “better” is even a loose word; “different” is much better suited.  Instead of finding that better sword, which will increase your attack strength, you will probably find something that is similar in damage but with a vampire life sucking feature of +4.  Making matters worse, you collect items and weapons that your character cannot use.  Why am I collecting swords when my character only uses rifles and pistols?  Sure, you might unlock these companion characters later in the game, but no one is going to want to hold onto loot that they cannot even equip especially with a limited inventory system.

Environments have been created with care and look great; the camera system allows the player to zoom in and out to admire the detail.  Unfortunately, an occasional camera issue will pop up when walking near a solid surface, like a wall, but is ultimately forgivable.  Dialog scenes always take place from an over-the-shoulder view, focusing on the person you are talking too.  However, mouths do not always line up with what is being said and sometimes your playable character will be facing the screen as opposed to looking at your character’s back.  This makes the conversation awkward because you are basically having a conversation while facing the opposite way with no mouth movement at all.  The higher presentation values are brought down because of these small nuisances.  On the other hand, the voice acting has been handled well and anyone who spent time playing Fallout New Vegas will immediately recognize some of the voices.  The musical theme behind the game also has a little bit of Fable-like tones too (which is a good thing).

Dungeon Siege III is not a terrible game as I felt compelled to finish the 12 hour campaign without much remorse, but the horribly designed multiplayer aspect is a giant missed opportunity and prevents this game from being a must-own.  If you are a sucker for action RPGs, checking it out for a weekend rental might not be a complete waste of time.  But with the lacking co-op mode, you are still better off playing Baldur’s Gate, Champions of Norrath, or even Secret of Mana.

Not As Good As: Dungeon & Dragons Heroes (original Xbox)
Also Try: Torchlight
Wait For It: Diablo III
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