If you're one of those people who wants to know everything there is to know about Dungeon Siege II, then you're in luck. There are a ton of previews of the game out there in the Internet -- we report one just about every day in our news section -- and we even have a Dungeon Siege II preview of our very own.
So I'm not going to give a general preview of the game, since that will probably just cover information you've seen countless times before. Instead, I'm going to take a close look at the press build of the game that Microsoft gave out about a month ago, and I'll discuss a few of the areas that I think are interesting.
Quick, how many people remember the story behind Dungeon Siege? Anybody? If you had asked me that question a couple weeks ago (before I played through the game a second time so I could compare it to the sequel), I probably would have said it had something to do with the 9,248 monsters who really didn't want me to travel the one road between my farm and the castle at the end of the game. Fortunately, if you're a little hazy about the details as well, it doesn't matter because Dungeon Siege II doesn't have anything to do with Dungeon Siege.
Dungeon Siege II revolves around the Sword of Zaramoth and the Shield of Azunai. When the sword and shield met in battle 1000 years ago, the sword shattered the shield, and the First Age of Aranna ended, making way for the current age. Now a prince named Valdis has acquired the Sword of Zaramoth, and he's trying to track down the pieces of the Shield of Azunai so he can end the Second Age and presumably create some sort of twisted Third Age.
As the game opens up, you're actually in the employ of young Prince Valdis. You're a mercenary in his army, and your orders involve storming the island of Greilyn and taking the piece of the Shield of Azunai stored there. Of course, it's only after you've liberated the shield piece (played out in the tutorial of the game) that you discover that Valdis is evil, but by that time most of your comrades have been killed -- they had served their purpose, after all -- and you've been captured by the dryads who live on the island.
In other words, you start out in a bad way, and it'll take you the majority of first act of the game to convince the dryads that you're not really evil, and that they should let you go home. Such convincing requires completing some combat-oriented quests -- no surprise there, given the nature of the game -- but at least you don't start out as a farmer wielding a hoe.
Dungeon Siege did not give you a lot of options for character creation -- basically you just got to choose a gender, a face, and a hair style. None of it really mattered, and once you started putting on some equipment, you couldn't really tell the difference anyway.
Dungeon Siege II is not entirely different. You still only get a handful of cosmetic choices to try and make your character unique, but at least now there's an important decision to go along with it. Besides choosing your appearance, you also get to choose your race.
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