Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dungeon Siege 3: Final Thoughts

Fighting in a dungeon
Blasting stuff in the face with a rifle
The other day I finally finished Dungeon Siege 3, so that's one more game out of my backlog. Hurray! Before completely closing the door on it, though, I did want to jot down some final thoughts on the game. Overall, I didn't find it hugely entertaining. A lot of the gameplay is common to the Diablo-alike sub-sub genre of action RPG except with nothing to really set it apart from the pack in a meaningful way. Moreover the game is pretty easy. About the only reason I bothered to play to the end of it is because I found the story mildly interesting, but then again it is a game from Obsidian, and they're usually pretty good at that sort of thing. Looking back on my time with the game, I'd have a really tough time recommending it to anyone, even if you get it for dirt cheap in a bargain bin, a Steam sale, or whatever.

The game takes place many years after a big uprising. A group that prides itself on protecting the land, the 10th Legion, is accused of killing the king, and the people, lead by his bastard daughter, Jeyne Kassynder, rise up and destroy this group. After this civil war breaks out as Jeyne tries to take over the kingdom while a royalist faction tries to maintain control. Fast forward to the present and this war is still going on, though things aren't looking great for the royalists. Where the player comes in is that there are a few descendants of the 10th Legion as well as survivors of the massacre, and players must pick one of four characters to restore the legion and bring an end to the war. Much of the story is typical fantasy fair with a bit of politics tossed in. It's not top tier storytelling or anything, but it did manage to keep me entertained. In fact, and as I said earlier, it's the one part of the game that kept me playing until the end.

Of the four characters I chose Katarina, a gun-toting women with an Eastern European accent. I chose her because I wanted a ranged class for kiting, and generally shooting stuff from a distance. The other characters are a mage, a knight-ish paladin kind of guy, and fire spewing archon (kind of a demigod-like creature). Whoever you don't pick will accompany you on your journey anyway, so they're never too far away, but you can't control them. They just do their own thing, and only one can be out and about doing stuff at any given time. I found the guns to be fun to use. Katarina has a rifle for hard hitting long ranged attacks, and a pair of pistols for when enemies get too close, plus a bunch of special abilities. It's a nice mix of weapons.

The final boss
Most bosses are pretty average in size, but this guy was
impressively huge
Much of the time I found myself mowing down trash enemies from a distance with my rifle while I had my archon tanking them up close. It wasn't very challenging at all unless I was being hit by a large number of bad guys at once, and this rarely happened. Boss fights could get a little bit more exciting because there was a lot more to dodge, or other things that needed to be done besides wailing on the actual boss. However, difficulty in these cases was still mitigated by liberal amounts of dodging. So, challenge was weak during my playthrough on normal. I guess one would really need to crank up the difficulty if they want to be pushed hard by the game. Luckily there are a decent amount of settings to choose from in that regard.

In terms of presentation, I liked the visuals. There's a good amount of detail to everything, and the game kept me moving forward so the environments stayed reasonably varied, not repeating themselves or anything. The characters looked nice, and there were some snazzy lighting effects, especially when spells were being blasted around. The one thing that really bugged me about the visuals was the camera because it can be a huge pain in the butt. It defaults to an auto-follow setting that makes the thing swing around in really inconvenient ways, and even if you turn it off the camera feels slow and unwieldy. Sometimes the thing will also decide to zoom in a whole bunch making it impossible to see enemies properly. The camera is very problematic.

Conversation at the end of the game
What to do with Jeyne now that she
is defeated
I should also note that I was playing the PC version of the game, and it was obvious that the thing was a very quick, ho-hum port of the console game because it didn't feel like the game was optimized for the PC. The thing that bugged me the most was the save system because it's just save slots without the ability to actually name them myself. It would just display a time and the place where I performed a save when I'd go to load one up. The problem here is that there are some choices to be made in the game that will obviously change the course of the story to some degree, like choosing whether or not certain characters live. I would have liked to have been able to set the saves such that they could be easily pulled up if I wanted to explore multiple branching story paths. Instead I have to remember the time and place that I made a save before one of these events happens which is very inconvenient.

In the end, I just didn't enjoy my time with Dungeon Siege 3 very much. The game is quite easy, and the camera intolerable. I didn't find the combat all that engaging, and then there are the more nuisance-y issues of the game, like its save system. I mostly soldiered through for the story, but I could see even this not being enough to hold some people's attention. Even if you find the game on the cheap at a Steam sale or something, you may be better off skipping it. The thing will still gobble up 20 hours of your time, and there are better action RPGs out there.

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