Saturday, September 10, 2011

Dungeon Siege III: Reeks of Reinvention

Poor Obsidian Entertainment and their Dungeon Siege III. The game's Personal Computer roots has made it a tough sale for that community though the game seems to have some popularity with the console-only bunch. It is understandable though because this game is a huge departure from the earlier entries into the series, being that it was made with the console audience in mind. From the rigid controls all the way to the simplified action heavy gameplay, the game is a casual experience instead of a hardcore dungeon crawler. Obsidian would have gotten a better reception if they didn't use the Dungeon Siege license because the fact of the matter is, what they have here is really different and it also happens to be a really good game. In DSIII, you choose one of four surviving Legionnaires who are tasked to rebuild the order and decimate the forces of evil that is threatening the kingdom of Ehb. It's your typical medieval fantasy setting but it's engaging enough to move the adventure forward. Too bad the static introduction sequence fails to provide anything exciting to the game.

And why would I ever want to leave?

It helps that DSIII is incredible to look at. Running it on my PC at 1080p with all the settings maxed out and the shadow option set to "Insane", the game is bursting with gorgeous colors and spectacular lighting effects. The character models look great too though they are very stiff during the conversation scenes. But of course, graphics don't make a game and I found that the fast-paced battles and dungeon explorations are a lot of fun. One thing for sure is that the game is meant to be played with a gamepad. I am not one of those keyboard and mouse only PC purists so I found the controls to be responsive and convenient. To attack an enemy, you have to walk close to them and then manually trigger the attack. When casting single target damage spells, it will target the enemy positioned in front of you while casting area effect spells require you to aim it with the second analog stick. Obsidian has released a key binding patch for the PC version of the game to satiate the community's complaints but to be frank, I don't see any reason not to use a gamepad while playing it. You can equip your characters with a vast array of loot drops to alter his or her statistics and the skill customizations are fun to mess around with. Though your character progression seems to be linear at first, the way that you can attune your abilities between two different passives is just brilliant and it ensures a certain degree of control as well as uniqueness over how your characters play.

Your magic consumes mana while your regular attacks replenish it.

The only real problem with this game is the co-operative online mode, which can be played up to four players. Only the host gets to use and progress his or her own character while those who join in on the game can use the host's companion characters. You also share the screen with all the other players in the game - an issue that it normally prevalent in console gaming but almost never the case in a PC game. Because of the linear nature of the gameplay progression in the game's campaign, I can see why the decision to set the former was made but Obsidian must release a patch that would fix the latter for the PC version though the chance of that happening is probably quite slim. Playing the game with a computer companion is fun enough but this is one of those games that would benefit from a strong online component in which it lacks. Still, DSIII deserves more credit than it has been given. It is a dungeon crawler than focuses on being extremely flashy and accessible and those things don't necessarily translate into something less than good.


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