Let me just say: I've never played a Dungeon Siege game before, so I can't comment on how this compares to its two predecessors. However, I have played the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance games on the Playstation – I really enjoyed them, but I never imagined that Dungeon Siege would be anything like them. Dungeon Siege 3 is very much like BG:DA. Apart from the fact that I don’t like Dungeon Siege 3.
Dungeon Siege 3 is a top-down, loot-spewing, dungeon crawler in the Diablo/Titan Quest/Torchlight mould. You know the score with this type of game, don’t you? Do I have to describe what happens? Really? OK then: click like hell to kill bad guys; click like hell to vacuum up the spilt loot; click like hell to skip any cut scenes so you can start clicking like hell again; repeat until your fingers creak. This clicking is interspersed with levelling up - which also requires clicking - and sorting out your party’s inventory: more clicking.
The story centres around your character’s attempts to rebuild the Legion after it was thought to be destroyed by Jeyne Kassynder. You’re one of the remaining members and, together with your companions, you go about restoring some strength to the Legion before looking to Make Jeyne Pay. It’s as formulaic as I suppose it needs to be, as it has to follow on from the previous two games.
You can pick from one of four characters, all with suitably different skills and abilities. The plot will be slightly different depending on who you pick, so there’s some replay value there if you fancy it. You’ll get the three characters you don’t pick as companions as you progress through the game, although you can only have one of them accompany you at a time. You can swap your companion at will, but I’d still have liked to have all of them questing with me at once.
Anyhow, none of this really matters as this kind of game lives and dies by, a) the baddies and the way in which you massacre them; b) its loot; c) the level-up abilities it gives you.
The combat is uninspired in pretty much every way. Identikit enemies rush at you from all angles and are dispatched using either weapons that all look, feel and sound the same, or your special abilities. Some of these abilities are nice (Anjali’s fire thing is pretty and dramatic), but most are wholly unimpressive. Fights tend to descent into either rolling around dodging before sneaking in a few attacks, or just standing still and clicking like a loon until there’s nothing left and then healing yourself. Every now and again you’ll get a boss fight which are slightly harder (much harder in a couple of cases) and reward you with better loot. Natch. They do add some much needed variety to the tide of goons.
The loot – ah, sweet loot – is only OK. It lacks the charm and personality of Torchlight’s stupidly-over-the-top items in both name and effect, and that’s what I want to see: stupid-over-the-topness. This just feels plain and unimaginative in comparison. I do like the attributes and bonuses though: “+4 Doom” sounds much better than “+4 critical damage”.
As previously mentioned, the abilities are all a bit ‘meh’. Actually, they’re downright insipid. I want to see my monitor explode in a shower of colour as baddies are ripped limb-from-limb and treasure belches forth. What we get here is a purple blob over a bad guys head. Yes, there is the odd cool ability and the fact that two characters can summon hounds is a bonus. We all love a good pet in our dungeon crawlers, don’t we? Especially one made of fire. Yes.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the end of Dungeon Siege 3’s woes. Mouse and keyboard control doesn’t feel right at all. There’s no precision to the mouse wheel and the pointer felt strangely detached from what I was actually doing. I actually ended up playing most of it with a 360 joypad. I know! The camera is also crap – I badly wanted to zoom out more, but was constantly frustrated by the narrow viewing angle, and the close-up camera is surely only useful for screenshots.
It looks fairly nice, although I did find it a little dark (turning the brightness up just made it too bright. Yeah, I’m a fussy bugger), which made the lootable and smashable containers very hard to spot in some areas. The music and sound effects are OK – nothing to write home about – but the voice acting is dire, and makes some of the cut scenes excruciating. You really will click like hell to skip them.
It has multiplayer too – drop in co-op, no less – but I didn’t try it. Sorry folks, but I just couldn’t face playing this game with some Internet random. I’ve read up on it though, and it sounds pants. Only the host persistently levels up and can save the game – everyone else who joins is just window dressing +1.
I can normally find something to hook me in this type of RPG – something that keeps me playing for hours on end, no matter how poor the game – but I can’t see anything in Dungeon Siege 3 that would make me recommend it to even a fan of the genre.