The latest offering in the Dungeon Siege series comes to us from Obsidian. Like all other dungeon crawlers, you’ll run through dungeons, kill monsters, pick up loot (lots of loot), and then go back to killing monsters till your eyes bleed or you realise that you’re late for office. Dungeon Siege III focuses on the 10th Legion, who some 30 years ago were accused of murdering the king and were subsequently put to the sword by angry mobs and the Church, led by an enigmatic woman who calls herself Jeyne Kassynder. Only a handful of them remain, biding their time for when they would rise and lead the Legion back to glory.
You are one of the remaining Legionnaires, and your task, if you choose to accept it, is to defeat Jeyne Kassynder and lead the Legion back to its glory days. The story is your standard fare and even the little twists that come along are predictable, but dungeon crawlers are hardly known for their story-telling prowess. You get to choose from four available characters – Lucas, a swordsman; Anjali, an archon (who can turn into a creature of pure fire); Katarina, an excellent markswoman; and Reinhart, a mage. The game’s presentation is solid, with decent graphics and no frame rate drops even on high settings. The dialogue is voiced, but the quality is pretty ordinary. It’s hard to feel for anyone when they sound like they are presenting the quarterly financial results.
Combat is a little challenging. You no longer get to stand and whack away, drinking potions when your health is low. For one, there are no potions, so standing rooted to one spot is a bad idea, especially during boss battles. You will have to keep dodging and blocking. Even the regular monsters pack a punch, so you can go from a full health bar to no health bar in a matter of seconds. How do you survive without potions, you ask? Well, defeated enemies sometimes drop orbs; green for health, and blue for mana, or focus as it is called in this game. Other than that, you will get access to abilities that heal you, not large chunks, but a little at a time. Your character will have two sets of attacks. For example, Lucas will fight with a two-handed sword or with a one-handed sword and a shield; Anjali will fight with a spear or float around flinging fireballs. Levelling up will give you access to abilities that will be attuned to a particular attacking style. You may find yourself switching between two styles depending upon the situation. Your abilities also differ based on whether you are blocking. So you have to be a little careful about what you press, or you might find yourself with an empty focus bar when you most need it.
Early in the game, you will gain an ally depending upon who your primary character is. The friendly AI is pretty good; not only do you get a lending hand when facing creepy crawlies, but your ally also revives you when you die. This makes dying pretty difficult unless you both die within seconds of each other. There are instances when you will be presented with choices. The scenarios I encountered seemed to suggest that your choices would make a minor difference, but I will have to go through the game again to confirm that. Now we come to the main course – the loot! Sadly, the quality of loot, or rather, the progression of loot quality is very poor. I had to stick with the sword I got five hours into the game until just before the end, simply because the stats the other loot had did not warrant a change. The loot comes with a plethora of stats, most of which don’t help at all. It does not help when you win a boss battle after having died numerous times only get a sword that is probably worse than the one you discarded an hour ago.
The single player campaign is short; about 12-15 hours on normal difficulty, depending on how many side quests you choose to complete and how often you die in battle. All the characters have exactly the same campaigns; there are no different back stories or endings for the different characters. But that doesn’t matter, because hey, there’s multiplayer, right! Right, but the problem is that multiplayer is quite a mess. When you join a game, you’ll have to choose a character that no one else in the party has chosen. All the characters are then bunched up in the same screen area, so if the host decides to go AFK, you can’t go and explore. You cannot pick up loot, but that’s not a big issue, since the quality of loot is poor anyway. There is also no player-vs-player multiplayer, nor are there separate multiplayer maps. You will be playing in the area your host is in and will breeze through everything if there is a full quote of four players.
Dungeon Siege III boasts of a superb combat system and a solid single player campaign, but the euphoria of its fantastic opening quickly fades away due the poor quality of the loot becoming quite apparent halfway through the game. Its terrible multiplayer mechanics only serve to further drag the game down from superb to just mediocre.