Dungeon Siege III Review (Xbox 360)

Posted by Jim Cook, Jun 22, 2011 09:17

At the start of this review, I had no idea what to expect due to missing the previous games in this series. This lack of experience wasn’t much of a problem however, as Dungeon Siege III is a fairly accessible dungeon crawler. It shares much of the overhead perspective and cycle of ’go quest, kill monsters, loot stuff, sell it in town to get better stuff, and repeat the process’ that you’ve seen in games like Diablo and Torchlight, and does it fairly well. While Dungeon Siege III doesn’t reinvent the genre, its emphasis on a lengthy and passable story combined with four distinct characters to play leaves it as a decent choice all the same.

Dungeon Siege IIISet in a fantasy world, Dungeon Siege III has you choose from one of four characters and lets you loose in a fairly large world to explore (though much of it is somewhat linear in layout). When hordes of monsters attack, you get to meet them with your choice of a gunslinger, swordsman, mage, or an ’archon’ that switches between mundane attacks and flames or summoning magical animals to fight back. While they share a basic set of controls, each one plays differently enough that you should find at least one character that you enjoy; some focus on finding a smart place to engage the horde of enemies while others want to keep moving and pick them off in sequence, so it’s up to you which approach to use. Once you’ve defeated your foes, you’re free to explore a little more and pick up all kinds of treasure ranging from money and armor to new weapons, which can either be directly equipped or sold in cities to acquire other items.

Combat is handled in real time, and you have direct control over your character. Most attacks won’t miss on their own, so you will have to outright dodge them while lining up your own strikes. Some characters also have special attacks that can slow enemies down, and all characters have their own unique abilities regardless of their combat style. These abilities can be improved as your character gains more experience levels, and their effects range from simple improvements to some of their RPG stats to more impressive things like making bullets ricochet from enemy to enemy. Fights thus strike a decent balance of using several regular attacks backed by more impressive ones as your resources permit, preventing things from getting too repetitive.

Though the cycle of fighting enemies and selling their loot is typical enough, Dungeon Siege III breaks it up with a few interesting additions. The first is a meaningful story, one that manages to hit a variety of themes beyond the usual ’save this swords-and-sorcery fantasy world from destruction’ plot and places some emphasis on the various characters. You won’t always be able to influence things, and there are times where your influence will be trivial, but it is at least a functional plot that keeps you moving through a large world with lots of locations to visit; you’re not just going into the same dungeon over and over. The second item of note is that you’re also not alone, as most of the time your character of choice is joined by companions that can either be controlled by the AI, or local or online co-op. Speaking of online play, it’s admittedly bare-bones and has trouble properly rewarding  but does work most of the time. I’ve had incidents of ’lag teleporting’ happen like in many other games, along with a few other irritations, but it can be played. Nonetheless, this is perhaps more of a single-player affair than anything.

While there is much to like in this dungeon crawler, there are some significant problems. The first one is perhaps inherent to the genre, as repetitive game mechanics set in quickly. While the variety of attacks does indeed prevent things from getting too stale, you’ll nonetheless find yourself playing in cycles and loops quite often. All of this leaves Dungeon Siege III as a decent game of its kind, though it faces obvious competition from several other games, including some Xbox Live Arcade entries. The variety of characters in this game does help it stand out, as does the inclusion of a basic but reasonably engaging story, but for the most part it is typical of the genre. Thus, it is best recommended to fans of dungeon crawls; you’ll find plenty to like here, though anyone who has already had their fill of this kind of RPG can pass on it.

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Our Rating for Dungeon Siege III Review (Xbox 360)
6.5 Replay
While focusing on a defined story helps solve one of the genre’s weaknesses, it nonetheless has repetitive mechanics and may wear out its welcome for those that aren’t already fans of dungeon crawls.
8.0 Graphics
A world full of detailed and varied locations keeps things nice on the eyes, though camera control is occasionally a slight problem.
7.0 Sound
The music is fine, as are the sound effects of various weapons and spells. Various voice acting is very thick on seemingly forced accents, and is only barely tolerable.
7.0 Gameplay
Having four different characters with a unique array of abilities means that everyone can play with a style they prefer, and the general dungeon crawl mechanics are reasonably well done.
6.5 Multiplayer/Online Content
Local and online co-op is offered, but in a very bare-bones package. It works, but your quality of experience may vary wildly.
7.0 Overall
A decent addition to the dungeon crawl genre, fans of this style of game will probably enjoy it. It won’t change the mind of those who have already had their fill of similar titles, however.

Rating: 1.5, votes: 2

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