Platforms: PC | Xbox 360 (version tested) | PS3
Publisher: Square Enix
It really isn't much like the first two, for those of you who may have stumbled on this review and were thinking “Ooh, I liked the first one, it had a donkey or mule you could keep extra inventory items on. That was pretty swish/lush/cool/insert buzzword”.
But this isn't like that. There's no donkey in sight, the menu isn't built for the constant loot-examining that the game requires and you are only one man/woman this time. It's Dungeon Siege in name but not in execution, and thus it would have worked just as well had they called it Chronicles of Adfjgdgf or The Gauntlet of Vzzzzzzzbx. It wouldn't have made any difference and considering how this has been built with the consoles in mind, old PC fans aren't the audience they're trying to capture.
Having said that, there is one element that does remain, that of the long, linear progression you make through the world, which is essentially shaped like one long corridor that you just trudge through from point A to point B. There are the occasional branches and 'leaves' to explore, but generally it's one long corridor, just like the previous two games.While this means you won't get lost, it does lead to an annoying amount of backtracking.
Leaving the general un-Dungeon Siege-y-ness of it all behind though, what you'll get for your coins is a fairly standard action-RPG that brings all the usual ingredients to the table, but is devoid of any real imagination, flair or reason to play for anyone versed in this sort of thing.
New players will find all the genre staples, a varying challenge between easy enemies and cheap bosses that can annihilate you if you don't spend all your time diving about to avoid their attacks and then hoping to get a quick strike in, chipping slowly away at their health bars.
These become slightly easier when you get an AI (or human, if you've got someone to play the game co-op) companion who can compensate for your character's weakness. Choosing the bog standard valiant knight character, you soon find the mysterious female witch/magic user, who can add ranged magic to your get-stuck-in melee focus.
Speaking of characters, you can't create your own, having to make do with the two mentioned before, a bearded Gandalf figure and a typically clothing-challenged female. It's a shame, with so many other titles allowing you to create a custom character, that you're restricted to just the four here.
Plot-wise, it's all about Jeyne Kessynder. “Who's that?” you might wonder. Well, you'll have heard her name about 100 times during the intro and early dialogues, so you just need to know she's killed a lot of your chums and you want her taken out and your chums brought back.
Your friends are the Legionnaires, a near-extinct group of do-gooders who were crushed in a rebellion by Jeyne Kessynder (you've got to use her whole name every time, apparently) who used foul magic to massacre them. As the last hope of the order, you've got to complete quests, level up and collect lots of loot.
Dungeon Siege III might be a whole lot different to previous Sieges, but loot is still part of the deal. It's quite confusingly dealt with too, with a lot of it unusable by your character, but it's not explained that a companion you pick up may well be able to use it. Chances are you'll have sold it well before finding said companion.
It's also a hassle to sort through it all, as you're constantly being given new Greaves of Patience or, most amusingly of all, Stockings of Vengeance, but it's just not that convenient to do it with a pad in a big, blocky interface. While it's well designed in terms of comparing loot, with green pluses and red minuses to show you if the item you've got is better than the one you have equipped, you still have to enter the equipment menu to see this information. It would have been better to have it displayed before you picked it up.
It could be worse though, and generally that's something that applies to the whole game. It's not that bad, it's reasonable, but – and slipping my PC hat on for a while here, and maybe the console one in the near future – when you have something like The Witcher 2 out at the same time, it just makes this look weak and feeble in comparison.
Of course, they're different games, but it is a question you need to ask yourself – do you play this, an average action-RPG that will provide a fairly dependable if flat experience, or wait for The Witcher 2 on console (or buy it on PC)? If you've got money to burn, this won't let you down too much, but it's not one you'll be looking back on in years to come.
There are few things it has going for it, though. Four-player online co-op will lift it out of the doldrums somewhat, as it would with pretty much any game – although if you join someone else's game, you won't be able to access that character later, only if you played with the same person again later on - and there is an element of tactical thought to the combat when it comes to using your abilities.
While you'll be able to unlock all of them for your character, you can only fully maximise a few, so you'll need to choose wisely, and as all will be useful in certain situations, it's important to put points into the ones you think will suit your play style the most (and the ones that will be complement your companions' too.)
So it's a take it or leave it game, with some good points but generally it's just a bit flat, unspectacular, acceptable only to a degree. You won't be enraged by playing it, even if your AI buddy tries to revive you while surrounded by enemies, but you also won't be nodding appreciatively very often. Rent it, don't buy it, that's our advice.
- Four-player co-op
- Tactical levelling adds depth
- Good amount of content, solid action-RPG stylings...
- ...but that doesn't make for the most exciting or original game
- It's just one long line of a game, with leaves
- Jeyne Kessynder! Jeyne Kessynder! Repeat ad nauseum.
The Short Version: A third game that pays little homage to the first two, but still delivers a solid-yet-unspectacular experience. Combat relies too much on dodging, but there's some depth in the tactical levelling, and there's four-player co-op. It's just it's not that exciting.