Dungeon Siege III Preview

Eurogamer has put online a hands-on preview about Obsidian's upcoming hack'n'slash, their impressions being positive while not enthusiastic. Here's a sampling:
Lucas swaps from two-handed broadswords to a more traditional sword and shield combo, Katarina from ranged carbine to a dual-wielded shotgun and pistol combo. Anjali can choose from her agile human form and a more destructive fire form.

From there things unfold much as you'd expect for a top-down RPG, with giant spiders lurking in forests, travelling merchants offering a discount once you save them from bandits and rural wives sending you off to find their missing husband in the Gloomy Caves of Goblin Death.

But it's hard to be too cynical about the genre cliches Dungeon Siege deploys since it gets the mechanics so enjoyably right. While the game never matches Torchlight's manic pace, it certainly doesn't hang around. It's almost episodic in nature, introducing a new location, along with new enemies and fresh quests, every hour or so.

The story rattles along at an agreeable clip, never bogging you down with too many optional objectives, and your character evolution follows suit. In about seven hours of gameplay I'd managed to reach level 14 and the meat of the story was only just about to kick in. Companions level up alongside you, and as you tweak and enhance their various abilities and proficiencies you can exert a small amount of influence over their combat style.