Dungeon Siege 3 PC Review
However, combat is the priority in an action RPG, and in Dungeon Siege 3 it’s… fine. It’s visually loud and brash, and makes dispatching countless same-faced goons a generally pleasant experience, even if it doesn't provide the depth of games such as Diablo – mainly because there aren’t any interesting abilities. The difficulty curve is sensibly paced too; you can nearly always charge into enemies and smack them around with confidence, dodging and blocking if something big is coming your way, and shoving on a healing effect when necessary.
Characters have two basic stances too, which they can switch between in an instant – we call them ‘Bring It Mode
' and ‘Boss Mode
’. For the melee fighter we'd chosen, ‘Bring It Mode' had him pull out a Claymore and use it for slow-but-powerful attacks, hitting multiple enemies at once and using abilities that cater to large-scale battles. However, in Boss Mode he had a sword and shield for quicker, more precise attacks, as well as better blocking abilities that are useful when tackling individual creatures.
So the combat system is okay, and often enjoyable when you zone out and bash through your enemies. It’s not cerebral, but the effects tickle the ‘ooh shiny
’ part of your brain. There’s also a neat singleplayer feature that enables your AI party friend to pick you up off the floor mid-fight if you get beaten, saving you from reloading your game.
Click to enlarge
Meanwhile, the levelling system grants you fixed stat bonuses to one of the four characters you can pick - Sword Guy, Fire Mage Woman, Mage Guy and Gun Rogue Lady. They all have names and stories, but they're so insipid that we failed to remember any of them. When Sword Guy levels, for example, his base stats improve in a way that you can't influence, but then you pick perks such as ‘4 per cent critical damage in each level of this perk
’ or ‘5 per cent chance of regaining 50 per cent health on a kill.’
These aren’t the most exciting descriptions, but you know what you’re getting. The downside is that, while you’re able to customise your character, you’re trapped in the outline of the character's profession - Sword Guy will always be Sword Guy, never Tank Sword Guy or Agile Sword Guy.
Every couple of levels you also get to pick a new skill. This are the only way you get a chance to really define your character, but your choices still mostly boil down to either hitting lots of things kind-of hard or one thing very hard. Other characters join your party too, and you get to pick their perks for more minimal tailoring. However, you may as well pick at random, since you don’t have any direct control over them.
Loot is obviously a big feature too, and there’s a lot of it, but the pleasure of grabbing new gear is spoiled by a lack of noticeable variation. Weapons don’t get interesting effects beyond the few core types – fire, ice and so on - they just all do X damage per hit, with Y damage over time. You’ll never catch yourself pining for the best sword in the shop or dropping your jaw at a salvaged hoard. Instead, you just pick something up, see if it has more numbers than what you’re wearing now and equip accordingly. It desperately needs some flair, some vitality, something
Dungeon Siege 3 is clearly, um, ‘optimised’ for consoles too. Running everything on the maximum settings on the PC version is smooth and stable, but offers minimal improvements, while other PC features suffer in different ways. When we tried enabling Steam Cloud support, for example, all our files corrupted. There are also no key-mapping options, while the menu repeatedly demands that you ‘Press Start’. There are few loading screens, however.
If there's a saving grace here, it’s the co-op mode, in which four players can connect easily and hack away at the streams of enemies; an experience that drags even the most mediocre games into something fun. However, you may have your work cut out trying to find a partner, given the general consensus on the demo, and we had trouble trying to find other players. Out of desperation we even tried our luck searching for games in the in-built browser, only to be met with a 'no games found' message.
While we’ve been harsh throughout our review, Dungeon Siege isn’t a bad game per-se. It’s not horrible, broken, offensive, unfair or anything like that - it’s just completely bland. It doesn’t do anything new, and it doesn’t excel in anything either. Plus, while the combat is fine, it doesn't offer the fun, blast-through action experience of games such as Torchlight, Diablo or even Titan Quest. If you can convince someone to play co-op, it might be okay when it hits the Steam sales at a massively reduced price, but there are definitely better alternatives.