Dungeon Siege III isn’t terrible; it just feels hollow. Obsidian’s noble attempt at bringing what is normally a PC-centric adventure to consoles is admirable, and the influences you can discern from the third installment of the series are easy to spot. It’s a serviceable RPG adventure, rife with areas to explore and Diablo-esque combat, and all the elements are there that should combine to make this a fanciful co-op adventure. Problem is, it’s not. It feels much more like a shell of a game that could have been, and that’s quite the disappointment.
Despite a host of characters with unique back stories, Dungeon Siege III pits players against enemies that are difficult to feel one way or another about, as well as a convoluted saga that you likely won’t care enough about to pay attention to, punctuated by brief run-ins with enemies and quest switch-offs that make the game so painfully linear it loses any if not all replay value upon completion.
A helpful breadcrumb system similar to that which we’ve seen in previous Fable games ensures you’re always on the right track to the next objective, which is automatically selected upon completion of another, adding to the slightly claustrophobic experience that is the unfolding campaign. Rather than similar sagas, you never truly feel as though you’re in control, only blindly following orders and seeing the developers’ intentions to completion. And I don’t know about you, but I like to at least have some sort of semblance of control pertaining to where I need to go or who I need to speak to next in order to proceed.
Combat is where Dungeon Siege III shines and simultaneously disappointed me most. While switching combat forms is impressive, as is the amount of loot drops possible from enemies as well as scattered treasure chests (complete with “falling” animation like we loved in Diablo), it never quite feels as though you connect with enemies — there’s no tactile sensation as though you’re slicing through flesh, or bone, whatever the case may be, instead feeling as though you’re slicing air rather than burning through baddies like a hot knife through butter. Because of this, it’s often easy to lose track of where you are onscreen, especially during a co-op game, leading you to a swift and certain death. Luckily, a deep character growth system partially makes up for the lackluster real-time combat, which feels more than a little skimpy, much like some of the NPC outfits.
The conversation system isn’t exactly anything to lose your marbles over either, with dull voice-acting and lackluster character performances and animations — it feels very much like a dumbed-down Dragon Age conversational engagement, which doesn’t amount to much. It is, however, a nicety that all NPCs were saddled with their own voice actor and personality. In an age where NPCs are usually an afterthought, it was great to see some care taken here to augment the game in a special way.
That doesn’t, however, make up for bland environments, mundane quests, and a painfully linear adventure that doesn’t exactly keep you coming back for more. Local and online co-op play make it a shining beacon in a sea of me-too multiplayer and map packs, but when the game beneath the extras is this piecemeal, that doesn’t amount to much. Still, Dungeon Siege III is worth a rental for a relatively quick breeze through a fantasy world rife with loot for the taking. At the very least, it’s something you can enjoy with your buddies…rather than against them.
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