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Dungeon Siege 3 is the latest release in the Dungeon Siege franchise and it marks the first time the series has ever made an appearance on consoles. It follows the story of the 10th Legionnaires as they seek to rebuild after the fallout of a civil war with the tyrant Jeyne Kassynder. Unfortunately, the story is largely uninteresting and dull. The game never does a good job of making you really want to get revenge on Jeyne and for the most part, it feels like a series of abstract events that reach a conclusion that very loosely gives you a purpose to move forward. The specific story elements and reasons for doing what you are doing are never explained very well and it all feels rushed as area after area passes by with no real story development of any kind – just constant reminders that you must stop Jeyne Kassynder, a villain that is impossible to form an opinion on as she is never encountered for almost of the entire game.
The player may choose to carry out this mundane adventure as one of four characters: Lucas, Anjali, Reinhart or Katrina. Each character is tailored to a certain type of play, with Lucas focusing on close combat and Katrina on ranged attacks and so on. Each character feels individual and all are fun to play in their own right but throughout the adventure, whichever player you choose, you will be accompanied by one other party member that is AI-controlled. For the most part the AI is decent and won't get itself killed too often but I did notice that their use of abilities was much less frequent than was actually possible and when they did use them it was often not to the best possible effect.
Having a certain member in your party can also aid you in some of the game's many dialogue sequences. Speaking to characters involves a Mass Effect style conversation system, although it is not quite as branching. At times choices you make will decide the outcome of a current situation but they never appeared to play into the overall story arch. The voice acting was good but no character really stood out with any sort of interesting performance or memorable mannerisms. Pretty much all the characters are made up of standard fantasy tropes and it leaves Dungeon Siege 3 feeling slightly dull on the flavor side.
Apart from any dialogue, Dungeon Siege 3 is at its core a dungeon crawler. The action is simplistic but relentless, as you will plow your way through droves upon droves of enemies in search of better loot. The X button serves as the player's primary attack, with the other face buttons assigned to special abilities that each character will acquire as they progress in the level. These abilities are measured by a meter called Focus, which regenerates through attacks made against enemies, and as such the special abilities will obviously not replace the basic attack but they do feel significantly more powerful and satisfying to use. Each of the four characters has nine special abilities and they will all be unlocked during the course of the adventure. Each ability can be enhanced as the character gains levels but there are not enough points to fill out every power so the player must choose wisely. In my experience, however, certain abilities seemed to be substantially better choices to empower than others.
Along with gaining points to upgrade powers, each character also has a set of talents that can be increased per level. As with the powers, I found certain talents to be clearly more useful than others. For example, a talent that increases the gold received from sales made to merchants verses one that increases the healing you will receive seemed completely pointless, as gold was never scarce and there never appeared to be anything worthwhile to purchase with it in the first place.
As with any good dungeon crawler, the main draw of Dungeon Siege 3 is the constant search for new loot. Dungeon Siege 3 starts out perfectly in this regard with new weapons and armor dropping every thirty seconds or so, but towards the latter third of the game any kind up gear upgrades are few and far between. As a result the game loses any kind of momentum it creates in the early stages as the combat is not particularly intricate or involving, and as mentioned earlier the story is generally weak overall. In the middle of the game I found a two-handed sword that was significantly better than anything else that dropped until the game's conclusion and this was the case with many of the characters' equipment slots. The game also never increased in difficulty from the middle point of the game, so most of the equipment I had at that point was more than capable of taking me to the end. Dungeon Siege 3 is also not a very long game, clocking in at about 10-12 hours, including all the side quests, so there is really no excuse for the drought in upgraded gear.
Most games of this type are made significantly better by the addition of other players in the game. The multiplayer could have significantly improved Dungeon Siege 3 had it been executed with a little more thought. The game has four different characters but they can only all be played simultaneous during an online game with four players. Local multiplayer is for some reason limited to two players at once. Although the online games run smoothly, it depends on having four friends who own the game. Granted it is very easy to join a game of random players but with the severe shortage of mic. users on PSN, you would be better off playing alone. The camera is also terribly suited for multiplayer that lacks any kind of communication, as it does not pan out and it forces the group to stay close.
Graphically, Dungeon Siege 3 looks respectable. The textures vary in quality with some looking better than others but nothing looks outright ugly. The areas you visit do a good job of evoking a fantasy setting, but in a similar fashion to the story and characters, they feel uninspired and rehashed. Quite frankly the entire aesthetic of Dungeon Siege 3 feels lazy and all too familiar to make any real impact. Without ever playing this game anyone who has ever even remotely come into contact with a fantasy setting could predict the areas you must visit in Dungeon Siege 3. Dark caves filled with grotesque giant spiders? Check. Underground crypt overrun by living skeletons? Check. There is nothing new here and it would take a die-hard fantasy fan or someone completely new to the genre to really get immersed in this world.
Dungeon Siege 3 will not be worth the money at full price for most people. It is quite flawed but still enjoyable nonetheless and as such could really only be recommended as a rental, even for hardcore fans of this style of dungeon crawling action.