Dungeon Crawling into New Areas
Dungeon crawlers are considered by some to be the PC exclusive that consoles only get ports of. After all, dungeon crawlers on consoles have often felt like they were still on the PC. It even seems as if all of the good ones never really consider the console as a viable market for the genre. As recent years have proven, this is not the case, and as Dungeon Siege III implies, this traditionally PC-exclusive genre may be finding a new home.
Fans of Dungeon Siege should already know the story thus far. For those requiring a refresher course, or those who have completely no knowledge about the game, the story takes place in the Kingdom of Ehb, founded by the 10th Legion. For years, the Kingdom of Ehb and the Legion’s power grew. Thirty years ago, the King of Ehb was murdered, with the blame falling on the 10th Legion. Jeyne Kassynder, leader of the Church of Azunai, led the people in a revolt against the 10th Legion, and many of the members were slaughtered for crimes they didn’t commit. Only a few Legion descendants escaped, led by Venerable Odo, and they sought refuge in Rukkenvahl. With more pouring in, Odo and the rest of the 10th Legion descendants planned to take back the Kingdom of Ehb from Jeyne Kassynder before it’s too late.
But this brief bit of knowledge probably won’t even aid you as you go into Dungeon Siege III. In fact, you will find yourself in the deeps of the story so often you will feel inundated with the Kingdom of Ehb before the beginning chapter is over. This overwhelming depth of storytelling is something that has become commonplace with hack and slash titles in recent years—Dragon Age is a prime example—but it’s something nearly unimaginable in dungeon crawlers. Unfortunately, even though the story allows for a “choose your own adventure” approach, it never grows past that point. You never feel completely connected to what is going on in the world of Dungeon Siege III. Instead of a gradual introduction to key elements—your family, Jeyne Kassynder, the 10th Legion, or even the Kingdom of Ehb—you are force-fed those elements through often painful dialogue.
This regrettably brings me to my first complaint: the voice acting. In several previous games, I’ve encountered less-than-admirable performances that ruined any semblance of story. Dungeon Siege III suffers from this. I could see the voice actors treating this as just another dull job as opposed to an exciting and entertaining performance. I honestly wish I could only say this of a few NPCs, or of just a single character you had to constantly interact with. If you remember the original Resident Evil’s voice acting, remove all semblance of humor and you have the voice acting element of Dungeon Siege III. On the opposite end of the sounds in the game, the hacking and slashing sounds are excellent, as is the music. Being a fan of orchestrated fantasy epics, I can appreciate the extra attention paid to the musical score.
A good partner to the fantasy music is the world in which these characters live. Dungeon Siege III won’t win any awards for having the best, but it’s easy to dive into the world with the level of detail that was put into the environments. The level design is seamless, and you’ll rarely find yourself waiting on load times. This helps the game keep the action fresh and hot throughout the game. The character models are also pleasant to look at in HD as well. Nothing seems too far over the top, and while the colors are muted in spots, the texture overlays keep you easily transfixed on your surroundings. The only thing I would have enjoyed seeing improvement on is how loot is displayed. Sometimes the loot nearly looks invisible when trying to collect it all. This might be why the option to “suck” in the loot was introduced.
Speaking of sucking, it’s too bad there’s no option that makes the camera un-suck. This will be your greatest enemy in the game. Too often, the camera makes it impossible for you to see the action, causing you to die. In a gaming era in which any conversation about camera control mechanics should be null and void, seeing this type of inconsistency coupled with a hindering control scheme makes one wonder how something like this would happen. While the controls do not directly affect how you will see the world visually, it is often so distracting that you won’t get to see just how pleasant the Kingdom of Ehb is to look at.
One of the main points behind a dungeon crawler is the loot. I’ve already explained how sometimes the loot found becomes invisible, but thankfully there’s a “sucking” option. However, the quality of what you are sucking up often isn’t worth the effort. Too many times I found myself looking at the loot I found and feeling more “meh” than anything else. Maybe it was the equipping options or the way the entire leveling system seemed geared more toward an inexperienced player than at least a moderate dungeon crawler aficionado. You are also leveling up like crazy, so in no time you will be unlocking impressive abilities, extra attributes, and talents. However, don’t get your hopes up; the system is designed so that at the end of the game, your main character still won’t be able to max out all their stats.
Speaking of characters, players will get to pick from four: Lucas Montbarron, son of the former Grand Master of the 10th Legion; Anajli, an archon or living legend; Reinhart Manx, a descendant of the 10th Legion mages; and Katarina, the illegitimate daughter of the former Grand Master. Each of these characters has different abilities for players to experience. Dungeon Siege III also allows players to enjoy the company of other players, either locally or online.
While I personally love local co-op games, it has long been a problem for games like Dungeon Siege to offer co-op that doesn’t interfere with the flow of the game. The first hindrance you and other players will notice is the inability to wander off on your own. You have to stay on the same screen, and while this is normally not an issue, at times it makes playing difficult. The second issue with the co-op is that when a new player joins, they cannot bring their character over into your game, and vice versa. What’s even worse is that when said player leaves your game, they don’t get any of the loot or weapons they acquired while playing. This is also the case when you open the game up to online players as well. This makes Dungeon Siege III practically a single-player adventure unless you have some friends that don’t mind playing with this type of handicap. Even though this is nearly a game-ruining quality, there is one more that shocks me more than anything else. If you have the game open to online players joining in on your quest, they can jump in, race over to a vendor, and sell out you inventory, only to vanish along with your hard-earned loot. How this was allowed to remain in the game without any sort of protective measure makes one wonder.
Dungeon Siege III doesn’t set out to revolutionize anything this time around. Instead, it tries to capture the magic of the previous two entries. I wish this title was treated more like a new generation introduction to the franchise, because, in that regard, it does several things right. However, putting the number three behind the title should mean progression. Unfortunately, this feels more like a transgression. Enjoyable for what it is, Dungeon Siege III will entertain for as long you can stand it. Just don’t expect things to get much better.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.0 Graphics
The update in graphics is good to look at from a distance, but close examination can practically harm the eyes. 3.5 Control
The combat is very typical for a hack and slash dungeon crawler. The camera, however, can cause nausea to creep up on even the most seasoned player. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
The voice actors seem to be doing a boring day job instead of a performance. 3.6 Play Value
While many will find fault with the game’s various features, it’s hard to deny the entertainment that dungeon crawling offers. 3.6 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.
|Review Rating Legend
|0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid
|2.5 – 2.9 = Average
|3.5 – 3.9 = Good
|4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
|2.0 – 2.4 = Poor
|3.0 – 3.4 = Fair
|4.0 – 4.4 = Great
|5.0 = The Best