- Mornin '13
- Xbox Live Marketplace Update: May 21st, 2013
- Metro: Last Light Gets 4 DLC Packs Planned, Season Pass Available
- Ryse Confirmed as Xbox One Exclusive
- Battlefield 4 Will Be Available this Holiday for Next-Gen
- Call of Duty: Ghosts Xbox One Media
- Forza Motorsport 5 Xbox One Screens & Trailer
- Xbox One Specs
Dungeon Siege Review
developer: Gas Powered Games
PII 333,128MB RAM, 8MB Video Card, 1GB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Apr 03, 02 (released)
|» All About Dungeon Siege on ActionTrip|
Did I miss a memo or something? We seem to be undergoing an RPG Renaissance, and no one bothered to tell me. There are some mighty fine RPG titles coming out these days. Gone are the days of text-based games like Zork (although still a classic!) and Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy, only to be replaced by semi-graphical games like Ultima and Final Fantasy. Then, inevitably, they were replaced by gems like Diablo II and the Baldur's Gate series.
Well, kids, the RPG has evolved once more and the gods have bestowed upon us Dungeon Siege. And SixShooter played Dungeon Siege, and it was good. Here endeth the lesson. (And beginneth the review.)
Of course, making a classic game is nothing new to the dedicated people of Gas Powered Games, makers of the RTS powerhouse Total Annihilation. This time, they team up with Microsoft (who can do [almost] no wrong) to bring what should prove to be one of the most entertaining isometric RPG's in existence. Developers take note: The bar has now been raised.
The storyline starts with a brief history of the realm: The Empire of Stars was vast, but eventually fell to inner corruption and an ominous evil presence. The entire countryside was laid waste, save for the 10th Legion. The Legion knew it was either stay and get their proverbial asses kicked, or make a strategic retreat. Naturally, they chose the latter and fled to the east and founded what became the Kingdom of Ehb. Three hundred peaceful years pass, and the ancient evil is long forgotten...until all hell breaks loose. And no one could have ever guessed the entire fate of the kingdom rests on the shoulders of one simple farmer. I'll give you three guesses as to who you get to control. No, go ahead...I'll wait. (No, NOT the evil, you goofball! The farmer!)
After customizing what your avatar in this world will look like, your quest begins. Your farm is burning, and a dying old man sends you off in search of your fate, and throngs of bad guys to work out your sword arm (or spell book) on.
The most interesting thing to note of this RPG system is that your character is totally customizable. The more any character practices a specific style of fighting, the more proficient he/she becomes in it. The 4 main skill sets are Melee, Ranged, Combat Magic and Nature Magic. Any character can learn any type of skill, and your class name changes as your skills improve. If you decide to specialize in Melee fighting, you're listed as a Soldier. If Ranged fighting is your cup of tea, you're an Archer. Balance the two, and you're a Man-At-Arms. Throw magic skills in the mix, and they change even further. I leave the combinations to be discovered by you. (Yer so lucky.)
You can wade through the adventure solely on your own, or you can command a party of up to 8 characters. The game offers a wide variety of formations that allow for your melee fighters (tanks) to wade into battle while receiving support from your archers and spell casters. The characters can be given individual orders, or act as a group. Each character can have a certain disposition for combat - they can either stay put, waiting for monsters to come to them, or bring cold, steely death to their enemies.
Graphically speaking, there's nothing more that can be asked for. The world is fully 3D-rendered, with each individual character and monster being rendered between 600 to 800 polygons each. With a resolution that goes up to 1024x768, the environmental effects are not at all diminished, and frame rates are smooth - even on my mid-range system. But be prepared for choppy play if you just meet the minimum requirements. The camera is capable of 360 degrees of motion, allowing you to view the action from any angle, including zooming in and out as necessary. Transitions between exterior landscape and interior dungeons are flawless and uninterrupted. There can be a problem with the camera positioning when your party is standing in a doorway, but with the ability for quick rotation, it's easily corrected. Spell effects are impressive and varied, with about 140 different spells available for your magical pleasure. The eye candy abounds here - if ever there was a reason to upgrade your video card, this is it.
The audio, on the other hand, is just merely good. The player is not drawn into the game with audio alone - the sounds of melee combat have been done better, and most spells just don't have that sound that makes you cringe upon casting. The best effect, in my opinion, is the archery sounds. Having a firing line of 5 people with bows all zero in on one target at the same time and having that whoosh of the arrow whizzing past multiplied by 5 is just so deeply satisfying. Other than that, there's really nothing that stands out in regards to the audio.
Gameplay is extremely reminiscent of Diablo II. Monsters have a singular goal - destroy the party. Certain individual monsters have AI smart enough to run when outnumbered, but (as in Diablo) the monsters are rarely outnumbered until after the battle is over. The party crawls through dungeons and the countryside in search of better equipment, rarely needing to stop in towns for refreshment. Monster packs are sometimes accompanied by a hero monster, who is surrounded by a certain color aura. These heroes can have special attacks, much like the boss monsters that infest the dungeons. The item drops are much like Diablo as well - with random item types with the occasional magical modifier. It's been done before, but given this game's impressive engine, it's never been done better. The new features with gameplay that set Dungeon Siege apart from the aforementioned Diablo is the automatic attack disposition (rather than having to click on each individual foe to attack), and an in-game pause feature that allows for quick weapon/spell switching, formation swaps or potion imbibing.
There is also a very expansive multiplayer section to this game as well. I tried to take a look at the system using the packaged ZoneMatch software, and had no luck. I didn't find out until later that the ZoneMatch servers aren't going online until April 5, so that explains my problems. Joining a standard network game has its issues. The game allows you to import any character from one of your single-player campaigns, so after you finish the single-player with your ubercharacter, you can quickly convert him and go on more adventures. The multiplayer games I've played aren't nearly as smooth as the single-player, especially when another character joins midgame. (God forbid you have someone with a slow connection.) The whole game comes screeching to a halt while this new player loads the game engine. It's a much easier procedure to start a game room and let it fill then lock it down rather than allowing others to join in. Especially considering that the game world of Dungeon Siege is vastly more expansive than any of the Diablo II acts, and losing a lower-level character in a high-level dungeon can prove deadly - and costly. Sticking with teammates is a must. Right now, there were also a good number of multiplayer game crashes. I attribute all these shortcomings to shoddy host computers and dial-up connections. When I hosted, everything was fine. (Cable Modem rules.) But when the ZoneMatch servers come online, joining a game should be as easy as Battle.Net - if not easier. Watch out - this game is going to be huge.
When it all comes down to it, this is the game Diablo II should have been. Hundreds of thousands of people line up on Battle.Net daily to do battle with Diablo and his minions, with the game still ranking high in sales every quarter. Lemme tell ya folks, Dungeon Siege puts it to shame. It is a better game than D2 in almost every aspect (save the audio - D2's audio isn't anything to write home about either), and is well worth every penny spent. If you even remotely liked Diablo II in any way, shape, or form, you will love Dungeon Siege.
8.9 Very Good
Damn near everything - Superb graphics, expansive world, combat system is as simple or as complex as you want it to be. This is the Diablo-Killer;
Audio is merely good, multiplayer is not complete, system requirements are steeper than they seem.
BACK TO TOP