Our Final Score
With the Dungeon Siege III demo having been released out to the world, I eagerly awaited its download onto my PS3. I must confess I was a huge Dungeon Siege nerd when the first one came out, spending countless hours with my roommate exploring the open worlds and dungeons, and battling all manner of goblins, skeletons and whatever else came crawling out of the wall.
So it’s fair to say I had high expectations for the 3rd installment, and was entering the demo having some reservations based on the readings I had done thus far. Sadly, the demo has done little to squash those concerns, and has actually raised some new qualms I have with the game.
The demo allows you to play as 2 of the available characters, Lucas, the Guardian and Anjali, the Archon. Each character comes with 2 different ‘stances’, which allow the player to execute different moves/spells. Not being a fan of the typical sword-wielding grunt, I chose to play as Anjali. Her 1st stance is a spear wielding amazon-like character (just for those Diablo II fans) and her 2nd gives transformation to her Archon form. The Archon form plays entirely differently than her 1st stance, allowing her to cast fireballs and summon creatures to fight along side her. Introducing the concept of different stances was one of the few pluses I enjoyed in the demo.
I may as well get the other pro’s out of the way while I’m at it…
The side quests and voice acting were superb. When engaging a NPC, you have a variety of dialogue paths to choose from, all of which have voicing for. I didn’t get the sense that there was much consequence depending on your choice of words, but Dungeon Siege isn’t known (or claiming to be) that kind of RPG game.
Another big plus was the abilities, proficiencies and talents that are available to each of the playable characters. While the demo only offers a limited amount of customization, there’s enough offered that made me want to play through more than once with each character just to experience the other abilities. And you just don’t simply select a skill and that’s that, you can actually invest more points into that skill to raise it’s potency. This includes higher chance %’s, greater damage, more healing, etc. etc.
This concludes the positives from my experience while playing Dungeon Siege III. If this is enough for you to make you want to purchase the game, I’m sure you will be very happy and able to continue on in your ‘ignorance is bliss’ approach to life.
For the rest of you, here is where the demo completely failed for me.
The camera. The bloody overhead camera. How in the world could the camera angle be limited to only 2 fixed views? What were they thinking!! The first view is a zoomed in, about 15 feet away from your character and the other is a bird’s eye viewpoint, but still at a 30-40 degree angle. You can toggle between the two, but the real issue is that you cannot free-look on the Y axis. This is ridiculous!! The artists spend countless man hours building a beautiful and rich environment (albeit the graphics did look a little muddy for my liking), and some doorknob developer limits how much you can see! I felt like I was constantly wondering “what’s up there?” as I approached a new area. This just felt completely wrong. Maybe I need to add another TV above my current one to get a more complete view?
The targeting system. Pitiful. The game auto-selects a target for you based on the direction you are facing…that’s fine. What doesn’t work for me is that I cannot select my opponent without moving towards them. What happened to having your character locked in place and selecting you foe that way? Was it too hard to do? As a heavy magic user in RPG’s (aka a mage/warlock/wizard, not a magician Spencer…) this type of targeting is critical. This wouldn’t be such a big deal for a hack’n slash type character, but any fan of ranged attacks will understand what I mean.
Character customization. Perhaps it was just the demo, or the type of equipment I was picking up and equipping, but the look of my characters never changed with the different armour I was selecting. I’m sorry but this is just stupid. Bracers, breastplate, helmets… none of these appear on your character.
And last but not least, the environment was waaaay too “pathed”. You could literally see on the mini-map the path your character was restricted to. What happened to the wonderful open environments from the first Dungeon Siege? I get that you must have limits to where players can go, but the pathing in this game was too confined. In town, I was not allowed to wander between two houses because, you guessed it, it wasn’t on the path. This detracts from the entire experience of exploring dungeons. How can I be expected to explore dark and dangerous dungeons when I can’t even step on the grass in town? It was so bad for me, that this alone is probably a deal breaker in purchasing the game. I feel that strongly about it.
I had other minor issues with the game… no character model preview when equipping different items (likely due to the fact that your character model doesn’t change with different equipment), and there didn’t seem to be any rationale for the size of your inventory like weight, strength, etc. But all of these paled in comparison to the lack of vertical axis viewing, the poor targeting and lack of open-world feel.
With the full game being released in North America on June 21st 2011, I am disheartened to know that I will not be purchasing the 3rd installment of this franchise. Having enjoyed the previous two immensely, I do not wish to soil my experience with the gaping holes that were apparent within minutes of play of Dungeon Siege III.
Disagree with me? I’d love to hear you comments.
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