Dungeon Siege III Xbox 360 Review

June 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Reviews & Features, Xbox 360, Xbox

Publisher – Square Enix – Developer – Obsidian Entertainment – Genre – Action – Players – 1-4 – Age Rating – 16+ – Other console/handheld formats – PS3

The first two Dungeon Siege games were dungeon crawlers, where there’s a big enemy body count and loads of lovely loot to admire in a statistical sense. A fair number of console owners won’t know this though, as, until this third iteration of the series came along (not counting the mostly forgotten PSP spinoff Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony), Dungeon Siege had never been acquainted with consoles.

The narrative of Dungeon Siege III is uncommonly open-ended for a dungeon crawler and possesses a Mass Effect style wheel, providing you with some degree of freedom as to how your chosen character responds in conversations.

As you’ll learn within the game’s opening stages, the tenth legion has been destroyed by Jeyne Kassynder thirty years earlier, leaving it to the dead legionnaire sons and daughters to rebuild it, defeat Kassynder and win back the trust of the kingdom of Ehb’s people, of which have turned against you. The story takes awhile to get going, but when it does it’s another enjoyable yarn from Obsidian.

If you ignore the side quests, the game can be completed in as little as twelve hours, though by playing all of the side quests, you're looking at about twenty hours.

You take charge of one of four characters, each offering a distinctive experience from one another. Lucas is the generic hard hitting warrior, Katarina prefers to see her enemies off from a range, wielding guns to do so. Reinhart is magically adept, whilst Anjali can switch between physically proficient and magically skilled forms. There’s enough variety on offer that there will surely be a character to suit almost anyone’s taste.

Each character has two stances that you can freely shift between, each featuring different weapons and abilities. Liberal use of your abilities will eventually see you unlocking an empowered version, where some attacks will hit harder and the effect of healing spells will spread to the entire party, amongst other enhancements.

MP is replaced by focus, of which, being built up through attacking, functions more like something from a more typical action game than an RPG. Defensive skills and empowered abilities require the use of power spheres, of which are gained by employing your abilities, blocking and being attacked.

Levelling up will reward you a proficiency point, of which can be spent in one of two areas, enhancing an ability in various ways, such as granting an ability a higher critical rate, or having enemies killed with an ability, winning you additional focus. Only five proficiency points can be spent in any one ability, so it’s up to you to decide of whether you want to concentrate on one proficiency or divide points between both. You’ll also earn yourself a talent point, of which can be spent on a permanent buff.

There’s not much tinkering with stats though, and this will disappoint those that relish such numerical fiddling, and the overall performance of your character is largely determined by he or she’s equipped weapons and armour.

As is typical for the genre, Dungeon Siege III is a co-op focussed game, with support for up to four players online, though just two for local play, unfortunately. Whichever version of co-op you opt for, it’s here where the game truly comes alive. You’ll no longer have to rely on an inconsistent AI companion and tearing through your foes is just more enjoyable than it is alone.

Obsidian's first engine, Onyx looks lovely and in case you're wondering few nasty bugs have been reported so far.

Co-op play isn’t without its problems, though. The camera will do everything in its power to keep all characters on screen in a multiplayer session, even if it means disorientating you in the process. It’s somewhat understandable when playing locally; though bizarrely even when you’re playing online, it needlessly functions in the same way.

Dungeon Siege III has many of the primary strengths of the dungeon crawler genre, but is also more streamlined than others, as always this will be divisive: some are sure to bemoan the attempts at getting the genre noticed by a wider audience, whilst others will enjoy the accessibility, strong storytelling and increased focus on the action that Obsidian has brought to the table.