Square Enix had a lot to show off this year at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles. While it may seem unusual to some that a historic western RPG developer like Obsidian is being published by JRPG icon Square Enix, looking at Square Enix’s current portfolio, they aren’t just the Final Fantasy company anymore. With the new Tomb Raider reboot and Deus Ex: Human Revolution coming out soon, they are putting everything they have behind their recent acquisitions. Publisher notwithstanding, Dungeon Siege III is a western style dungeon crawler in the theme of the classic, Diablo.
Dungeon Siege III, for those unfamiliar with the series, takes place in the Kingdom of Ehb. Fantasy RPGs face stiff competition on consoles. There is no way to not to compare the latest Dungeon Siege with the very successful Dragon Age games. In many ways, Dungeon Siege III is a better game than Bioware’s epic. Although, you are not able to build your own character, you choose between four premade characters. The characters, a swordsman, archon, wizard and rouge/mage are varied enough to offer different types of gameplay. The three characters you do not choose will serve as NPCs or can be controlled in a drop in/drop out local or online co-op game.
The art style and graphics execution on this isometric view hack and slash are commendable. The view can be zoomed in and rotated although not being able to drop the elevation of the camera can be a little bit frustrating when trying gain a wider view. This slight frustration with camera is most notable when trying to make sure you haven’t left any of the copious amounts of loot behind. There is a lot to pickup in this game and a fair amount needs to be held on to at least until you pick up all of your companions.
The area where this game really shines is its menu system. While using the right bumper to interact may take a little getting used to, the button mapping makes a lot of sense. The way the commands are assigned to the controller make the full menu nearly unnecessary. Additionally, the stats for the equipment in your inventory, is shown in comparison to what is currently equipped by the appropriate team member. This allows the player to evaluate weapons and armor much more quickly.
There are so many things Square Enix and Obsidian’s Dungeon Siege III gets right, it isn’t hard to overlook where this game doesn’t succeed. Games like Mass Effect, LA Noire and others have really raised the bar when it comes to story, writing and acting. Unfortunately, Dungeon Siege III doesn’t measure up in these areas. The quality of fantasy stories are subjective, and this one is certainly not the worst. The problems with the writing in this game start with the script, which almost seems purposely non-conversational. This snowballs into awkward voice acting which are accentuated by minimal facial animation.
It’s unfortunate that the problems with voice acting and facial expression will turn a number of people off to this game. Ironically many times the script writing and acting are what turn a lot of people off to Sci-Fi and Fantasy books and movies too. The core mechanics of this game are in many superior to its competitors and fantasy RPG fans should definitely give this game a try. Downloadable content is coming and will probably be a determining factor on the lasting power of Dungeon Siege III.
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