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Jahanzeb Khan
27 Jun, 2011

Dungeon Siege III Review

360 Review | Dungeon crawling is boring but this is ridiculous.
There’s no shortage of quality role playing titles in this console generation, and more particularly role playing games of western origin. At the moment we have franchises like Fable, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and The Witcher leading the pack and revolutionising the genre. What western RPGs have clearly succeeded at doing is breaking from the mould and offering a unique context specific experience that literally revolves around the player. Western RPGs have undoubtedly moved things forward by offering an experience almost shaped entirely by the player, taking place in a living breathing world that consistently evolves. Freedom is what sets these RPGs apart from the rest, freedom that can at times be staggering and overwhelming. The western RPG genre is represented by a few select studios producing the mainstream quality titles, one such studio is Obsidian, albeit a controversial one. The studio has worked on franchises such as Never Winter Nights, Knights of the Old Republic and even Fallout. Most diehard fans of these franchises will tell you that Obsidian usually does a very middling job, with their games often lacking polish and quality.

This year we see the revival of the Dungeon Siege franchise in the form of the recently released Dungeon Siege III. The game was handled by Obsidian with series’ founder, Chris Taylor, performing an advisory role during the development. Surprisingly enough, the game comes under the banner of leading Japanese role playing game developer, Square-Enix, who now own the rights to the franchise. With all these drastic changes in development teams and publishers, it’s no surprise that Dungeon Siege III ends up being a weak role playing offering, and one that simply pales in comparison to the sea of quality RPGs that gamers can purchase (and at a lower RRP too).

Dungeon Siege III takes place in the world of Ehb, and tells the story of a war between factions that reside within the kingdom, with the Legion being the most prominent of the monarch. This game revolves around the fall of the 10th Legion, and their attempt to reclaim their glory. With the fall of the King, the 10th Legion became the victim of a rebellious army under the rule of Jeyne Kassynder, who had the motive of ending the alleged tyranny of the Legion. Even with the large scale attack and dominance of the Kassynder army, some Legionnaires manage to survive. These surviving Legionnaires set out to restore the Legion and to stop Jeyne Kessynder, who turns out to be anything but a savior of Ehb.

He looks better than the characters actually.

He looks better than the characters actually.
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Players take on the role of one of four Legionnaires. Lucas Mountbarron, the son of the fallen Grand Master of the 10th Legion, is a generic close range melee tank character. Anjali, who was raised as one of the Legion, specialises is a staff wielding warrior who can take on groups of enemies but also transform into a fiery ‘Archon’ which specialises in long range and powerful fire spells. Katarina is a woman of Legion blood and specialises in fire arms and dark magic. Finally, Reinhart is a Legion mage who can perform a variety of offensive and defensive spells.

The back story and premise are interesting enough but in terms of execution, the game really misses the mark. For one thing all four playable characters have a similar journey and within the first four to five hours you will have all four characters in your party. The story pacing and execution is rather dull, and does very little to keep the player engaged. The game could have done a great job with the Dungeon Siege lore but instead tells a story that is simply lacking in scale and substance. As you play along, you forget about the grand scheme of things and focus on insignificant details, and the game doesn’t even try to make you feel a part of the world of Ehb. The areas you explore and the people you meet, all lack character and fail to give life to the in-game world, making it extremely difficult for players to immerse into.

The game is actually painstakingly linear, even with the customary side quest system in place. You are trapped in extremely narrow pathways with little to no open-ended exploration. You literally run from one point to the next, with no sense of awe or adventure. The design of the in-game world simply lacks the ambition and epic scale that prevails in recent Western RPG releases and what’s worse is that the game hardly makes compelling use of what it offers, instead it’s just one big mow down of generic foes. What’s worse is that the quest is short for each character, but really feels like a drag, offering less than fifteen hours of gameplay for each.

Battles look epic here but wait till you play it.

Battles look epic here but wait till you play it.
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Perhaps the main problem with Dungeon Siege III is that it tries to be a traditional loot gathering
RPG like Diablo, but at the same time tries to be as ambitious as Dragon Age with it’s almost non–consequential conversation system, and a deed system that tries to create the illusion of moral actions having consequences in the grand scheme of things. The mix of these styles of role playing in the end feels incomplete, and the core gameplay system doesn’t make things any better.

Dungeon Siege III offers an extremely simple and shallow combat system with RPG mechanics that almost feel irrelevant. You can perform standard attacks and skills mapped onto separate buttons, and as you level up you can learn new abilities and enhance talents. It’s similar to what’s in other loot gathering RPGs but feels extremely simplified and limited in comparison. In fact, you won’t be using much of the skill set either. The combat is real time action, and lets you dodge, block and strike as if you were playing an action title, but it all feels like an exercise of bashing buttons and avoiding predictable attacks. There’s very little skill and precision demanded from the player, and so the end result is an extremely dull battle system that has aimed to sacrifice tactical gameplay for something exciting and fast paced, but doesn’t really succeed. To make matters worse, the party A.I is an absolute frustrating mess and makes an otherwise simple battle more difficult than it needs to be.

You’d think the online co-op would save this package, but it doesn’t. The online multiplayer is oddly designed. As the host, you will benefit greatly but the guest pretty much serves as a slave, doing all your work without getting any items or experience in return, and not even money like in Fable III. What’s worse is that the guest is forced to operate in the same screen as the host and is constantly zoomed in. Players cannot wander off separately and are forced to stick together. As well functioning as this, there is very little incentive for others to join your quest unless they’re really good friends who wish to help you out of the goodness of their heart.

A serviceable RPG at best.

A serviceable RPG at best.
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The game simply looks hideous, with its dull world design and lack of unique and compelling artistic flair. The character models look like they’re made of plasticine and animate horribly, especially in the Xbox 360 version. The only redeeming thing about the visuals is that the cave textures actually look decent, and the lighting effect is decent enough in those areas. The voice acting, while serviceable, can also be grating and annoying at times, particularly when Katarina has something to say.

With all that said, the game in the end is far from broken. It actually works well for the most part and offers some cool old school boss battles that have patterns that need to be memorised. The boss battles are actually the most fun you’ll get out of Dungeon Siege III with each having their gimmick and attack patterns that can be dodged nicely if you can see them coming. The game overall is a serviceable RPG that generally works, but just because the game is playable doesn’t mean it’s a quality title.

Dungeon Siege III is a missed opportunity, it certainly had the advantage of using an established setting and lore to make something special out of it, and early builds of the game showed promise.Unfortunately, the final product barely evolved from the demo we played at the start of the year. The experience you have during the first couple of hours of the game remains consistent until the end with no growth or evolution whatsoever.
The Score
Dungeon Siege III in the end is a weak title that will drown in the sea of top quality western RPGs that are already out there and soon to come.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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13 Comments
2 years ago
A mate was talking to me about both of us getting DS3 for some dungeon crawling shenanigans yesterday.
But I had read elsewhere about the slave type co-op and hence saw no real reason to crawl together.
Also there seem to be a fair amount of reviews giving it higher scores than this, but I have a feeling you may be on the money Jahanzeb.
Cheers for the review.

(DS3 co-op + ??? = No Profit!)
2 years ago
he is on the money, if you finished the co op in one sitting it wouldn't be so bad, but playing on that camera angle the slave has, would be akin to torture....the co op for this is horrible.
The game really should have been a budget title (even though we have had what an entire 4 or 5 of those this gen)
2 years ago
what about local (offline) co-op? is that still slave or is the loot/level ups etc all even? id be interested in this for local coop but if its the same system as you mention for online co-op then i might as well stay with fable
2 years ago
Good review as usual Jah! You sound off on a lot of stuff that other players have mentioned but critics have not. Good to see some honesty here unlike elsewhere.
2 years ago
Thanks for the honest and explanatory reasonings for your review Jahanzeb.

I had high hopes that Square Enix and Obsidian would once again ruin a promising game series they aquired from another company 'yet again'. And it seems that my hopes were not in vain.

I just hope that gamers stop rewarding Square Enix for delivering such trash by pre-ordering anything they release, and wait for the reviews 1st.

Thats the 1st step.

The better option would be to turn our backs on the company all together.

There are several companies that deserve our attention more so than SE.
Atlus, Bioware, Rocksteady, Rockstar to name a few.

When i think of Square Enix i think of Square and Squaresoft as the visionaries that created worlds and stories that inspired and entertained thier customers. They made games that they wanted to play and worked really hard to deliver a quality experience.

Square-Enix on the other hand are thier "rich kids" who were born into money and prestige and never had to work a day in thier life. They publish and design games that are shallow and infantile. (kinda reminds me of Paris Hilton)

They dont deserve the legacy that with the majority of thier releases gets tarnished(especially the RPG titles.)

Pleeeeaaasssseee everyone, dont be swayed by the pretty pictures in the advertising by Square Enix products. Let the great series from before remain great in our memories, and not the failures that SE spew out.

Ok Benza, let it rip icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
Wow Banefire.

Being new I consider you a second class citizen, but that post was awesome. Keep the fire coming!

EDIT: I realized I should have put considered instead of consider but oh well. The meanness of this post wasn't what I was going for.
2 years ago
Nietzsche wrote
Wow Banefire.

Being new I consider you a second class citizen, but that post was awesome. Keep the fire coming!
Way to make newcomers feel welcome there, Jesse.
2 years ago
It takes 100 posts for me to notice people. Otherwise I grow too attached and when they leave it makes me sad. I have been burn't too many times.

Nice use on my real name, classy.


EDIT: I have posted in the welcome thread to make up for my discretion.

Sincerely Jesse
2 years ago
I must be one of the only people that don't mind this game... It shouldn't hold the dungeon siege name though as it's clearly not like ds1 or 2. So I get why people are so pissy towards this but I still think it's an ok game... Oh well.
2 years ago
Nietzsche wrote
Wow Banefire.
Being new I consider you a second class citizen, but that post was awesome. Keep the fire coming!
Chuckle, i dont know whether to be happy that you are impressed by my post, or offended that your ego seems a little too inflated ;p.

Anyway, i get why you would be so protective of the community on this site. Since posting my comments, its been kinda relieving being able to share my viewpoint with everyone.

I will continue to value your feedback and will try to earn my place here if you feel i need to earn it. icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
wow dude, you really hate SE don't you icon_razz.gif
2 years ago
i sure do benza, i sure do. icon_smile.gif
2 years ago
Aw man, only a 5 and half... I was so hoping this game would be good. Oh well another game I can skip, I was waiting for a review before picking this up and I trust your review Jahanzeb!
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  Pre-order or buy:
    PALGN recommends: www.Play-Asia.com

Australian Release Date:
  16/06/2011 (Confirmed)
Publisher:
  Square Enix
Genre:
  RPG
Year Made:
  2011
Players:
  4

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