|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Gas Powered Games||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Sega||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 12, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Derek Hidey
Developers appear to have their eyes on the science-fiction crowd, and Space Siege is another fantasy-turned-science video game that backs that up. The spiritual successor to Dungeon Siege II, a popular and moderately acclaimed RPG, Space Siege attempts to harness what made its predecessors popular, while still attracting newer audiences. Unfortunately for Gas Powered Games, they seemed to pay more attention to the setting than they did to the game mechanics.
The player fills the role of Seth Walker, a solider aboard one of the massive colony ships fleeing Earth. As with most science-fiction games, there are the hostile aliens known as the Kerak, bearing down, ready to exterminate humanity in an instant. The opening cutscene shows Walker's ship escaping the assault on Earth, but not before a smaller Kerak ship attaches itself to his hull and lays siege.
Visually, Space Siege does a great job with the direction taken. As a third-person RPG with a top-down perspective, the game has difficulty showing off some of its more impressive visuals, since the player is usually staring at the top of Walker's head and examining the bolts in the flooring. Nevertheless, there are moments, particularly when crossing catwalks and large bridges, when the player is treated to something more than sterile interiors.
The design direction isn't necessarily dull, but it doesn't make much of an effort to create an immersive experience. The lack of blood is strange in contrast to the savage massacre of mankind. Hallways lined with dead bodies feel empty and barren without gory detail. Similarly, because the entire game's plot unfolds on a single ship, much of the interior environment will start to look oddly familiar after about thirty minutes. There are a few out-of-ship environments, but they are limited and too few. However, this isn't to say that any of these things equate to a poor visual presentation, it just wasn't expected.
The cinematic cutscenes, which are few in number, are actually done rather well but are completely limited to scenes involving spaceships and space combat, so the depth of the cutscenes is severely limited. The in-game cutscenes, on the other hand, seem almost pointless, since most of them do little more than take control away from the player and switch between two different camera angles for a few seconds. And, since most of the dialog and story unfolds via some unseen communication device that allows the characters' faces to appear as they talk, which happens even during the cutscenes, it makes the player wonder why Gas Powered Games bothered creating them at all.
Character animations, especially during melee combat moves, are fluid and top-notch. However, outside of combat, animations seem stiff or are just not there. For example, there are only a handful of moments when NPC allies will actually be animated when talking, preferring to remain in the standing position or hunched over a computer console instead. In fact, it would be difficult to even tell they were alive if they weren't talking.