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Space Siege Review
developer: Gas Powered Games
PIV 2.6 GHz, 512MB RAM, 3GB HDD, 128MB video card
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Aug 12, 08 (released)
|» All About Space Siege on ActionTrip|
Gas Powered Games, as lead by gaming mastermind Christ Taylor, proved themselves time and again as a competent developer. Their history encompasses mostly successful franchises such as the action RPG series Dungeon Siege and the real-time strategy Supreme Commander. Contrary to what everyone expected (i.e. Dungeon Siege 3), GPG decided to tread into the sci-fi realm with its project Space Siege. Now, we tend to believe swords, shields and spells are far more gratifying for an action RPG, as opposed to robots, zappy-guns, cybernetic enhancements and similar clich's. However, given GPG's reputation, we were prepared to let this slide and we've seen Space Siege very early on in development and even then it seemed promising.
Space Siege starts off by tossing the main character into a rather nasty situation. Seth Walker, our hero, is introduced to an exceedingly hostile alien race called the Kerak, who appear to have their wretched extraterrestrial hearts set on kicking the living crap out of the entire human race. Suffice it to say, the aliens launch an attack on the human fleet and things start to look pretty bad. Seth finds himself on a massive space frigate in a desperate search for anybody who might've survived the alien invasion. Along the way, he realizes that the Kerak aren't the main problem and... blah, blah, blah. From here on, it all pretty much dissolves into a mundane storyline, with feeble characterization and a fairly predictable plot. Seriously, I tried to find something likable about the characters, but in the end found them shallow and completely incapable of having remotely interesting conversations. After witnessing the generic setting and unimaginative characters, I decided to direct my attention elsewhere - the gameplay, of course.
The familiar Dungeon Siege-ish gameplay mechanics are very easy to master, both for beginners and gaming veterans. In that sense, the game does have its qualities. You'll be able to grasp everything from weapons to skill improvement and cybernetic upgrades in no time. Character development and weapon improvement was drastically simplified. Perhaps too much for the game's good. Also, the game does away with the conventional DS inventory system, so you won't get to toy around with different items, armor and weapons. Say goodbye to traditional looting too. Upgrading weapons is done via terminals which you bump into along the way. There you can improve your skills, which you're going to need to perform a variety of special attacks.
To my disappointment, Space Siege falls short as an action RPG, failing to deliver the kind of entertainment we expect from a talented team such as GPG. The action remains repetitive throughout most the game and the RPG elements, quite frankly, feel unsatisfactory. You continue to blast your way through hordes of similar-looking enemies. Through it all, you collect an endless amount of material needed to upgrade weapons. In short you'll be bored after you've finished the first few chapters and things are likely to stay that way later on.
Visually, the game does have its moments, albeit it doesn't stand a chance against today's top releases. The battles are going to treat you to a few cool explosions and solid character animation. On the other hand, each level has tons and tons of unused space, where the designers could've thrown in more details and at least something eye-catching for players. Visiting corridor after corridor and platform after platform gets tedious very quickly. The sound effects are okay, though a wider variety of tunes would've been appreciated.
There's not much to talk about tactical gameplay either. Your character can dodge enemy attacks and set traps for them, except you can mindlessly shoot your way through the entire game just as well. Keeping up with the disappointingly generic elements, the game will have you going through a number of recurring quests and side-quests - collecting crucial repair parts, cybernetic enhancements, locating certain characters and rescuing them, deactivating one machine or another, etc. Oh and you don't have a party with you, just a poor old robot that follows you around getting blown to bits because its master is too busy installing shiny and expensive cybernetic parts on himself.
Even with all these issues, it's not an entire waste. Some aspects of the game can still reel you in, if only for a while. What I liked about Space Siege is the fact that at some point it did remind me of Dungeon Siege. It has that trademark straightforwardness thing going on, which I can appreciate. There are also quite a few cool special moves and attacks your character can perform, so I guess I could say I had some fun with those. On the whole, it seems to me the developers would've been far better off turning this into a modest release for Xbox Live and PSN. Now the game does have a multiplayer portion, which allows players to upgrade their avatars all the way at the beginning. It can be enjoyable too. This aspect of the game, however, falls into the same trap as the single-player and as such seems equally unrewarding, even when you play it with four players.
What the developers tried to do is wrap Dungeon Siege into a sci-fi package resembling Mass Effect and have failed miserably at it. While it certainly lacks the depth and epic atmosphere of Mass Effect and similar top releases, it also doesn't live up to the rich content and immersive settings of the Dungeon Siege games. This is the first time we are honestly disappointed with the folks at GPG.
Decent animation, special attacks are nice, straightforward and easy to learn, occasionally reminded me of Dungeon Siege.
Lousy story, unimaginative characters, generic design, repetitive gameplay.
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