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Page 3 of 3Sound and Graphics
The graphics for Dungeon Siege III demonstrate both strong and weak points. They have all the bells and whistles that you'd expect, and all of the locations are polished and unique (something BioWare could learn from)... but everything is also generic and uninspiring. When you go through a crypt, it could be any crypt in any game in any fantasy universe anywhere, and ditto for the swamps, forests, and factories that you visit. I remember playing the original Dungeon Siege and being excited about what might come next. Similar excitement did not surface here.
Meanwhile, the script for Dungeon Siege III doesn't require any heavy lifting from its actors. There aren't any scenes of anger or great emotion, and most of the actors do a credible job of reading their lines cleanly -- that is, except for Anjali, who gives a cringe-worthy performance. Why she didn't get recast, I have no idea. For a while I thought that she was using a strange and mechanical cadence to emphasize the difference between archons and humans, but then later you meet some other archons, and they don't have any such issues. Because of her voice, Anjali ended up being my least favorite character.
As with the sound and graphics, Dungeon Siege III has some pluses and minuses when it comes to the technical aspects of the game. On the plus side, saves and loads are fast, there aren't any loading screens between zones, and I didn't encounter a single crash bug during the 100 or so hours that I spent with the game.
But on the minus side, there is sloppiness all around. When you examine an item, you're shown a comparison to what you're currently wearing -- except for jewelry, where the game pretends you're not wearing anything. Some abilities require targeting, but if there's an actual way to target them, I never discovered it. Abilities can gain an "empowered" mode if you use them enough, but it takes so long to gain this mode that you might never bother with it. The Causeway world (which is how the game handles teleportation) is empty and boring. There's one character who is guaranteed to show up and give you some information -- even if you killed her earlier. And more.
Finally, as I mentioned before, Obsidian's focus was on consoles when they developed the game, and as with pretty much every cross-platform game ever designed, it takes a lot more work to create a good PC interface as well as a good console interface, and so developers don't. They just create a console interface and then pretend it's good enough for the PC, which is never good news for PC owners. And so in Dungeon Siege III, you get restrictive saves and you can't name your saved games, the camera is more "immersive" than "useful" (there are a lot of boss fights where it's tough to keep the boss on screen), and the interface employs clunky menus and scroll bars. Console gamers might not notice anything wrong, but these shortcomings are more than evident on the PC.
Overall, Dungeon Siege III is a playable but unexciting game. It provides you with lots of stuff to kill and equipment to loot, which gives it the minimum requirements for an action RPG, but it doesn't include anything to keep you playing or wanting more. It is slightly better than Space Siege, preventing it from being the worst Siege game of all time, but it's a near thing. That being said, if you're not expecting much, and you just want to mess around killing stuff here and there for an hour or two at a time, then Dungeon Siege III can get the job done. I'd just recommend that you pick it up during one of the sub-$25 sales we've seen lately rather than the $40-50 range that it typically hovers around.
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