Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Video Game Assessment: Dungeon Siege III (2011)

Yet another Obsidian directed video game comes out, and yet again I became incredibly excited for it. In general I've loved all of Obsidian Entertainment's games. That's true. I've never played Neverwinter Nights 2, but I have played all the rest. Two of their games are among my favorites of all time in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Fallout: New Vegas, so Dungeon Siege III had quite some shoes to fill. Now, I'm not going to say that this is the best put together game in the world, and I'm not going to blindly like it without taking the time to really have an in depth look at it, so I played through the whole game. I completed it completely with one character. And this is my assessment of the game.

Altogether, this game is my least favorite of the Obsidian Entertainment name, but that by no means makes it bad. Two of the games are among my favorite ones of all time, which is quite a feat, one I've never played, and I liked Alpha Protocol quite a bit. To my Burn Notice addled mind, Alpha Protocol worked in so many ways despite the obvious cuts and unfinished ideas.

The first thing that I have to mention is that I played single player. I have the feeling the game would be better to play with someone else. So, I'm putting that out there. If it is more fun, or works better with someone else playing it with me, I'll put out another review saying it, but as of now, this is my impression of the game.

The game altogether does seem well put together. It has a finished feeling that half of Obsidian's games that I've played don't really have. It doesn't feel rushed or pushed out the door, which both are always good things. The characters are decent, with one that outshines the rest, but I'll get to that. The music is good, reminiscent of the Fable games. Hell, most of the game is eerily reminiscent to the Fable series. And I like the Fable games too, although I do think that this one has much more to offer. The story is there, simple as it might be. The characters are strongly written, and the combat is mostly very fun.

There are negatives though. The gameplay never really became old for me...but it could have if the game were longer. Dungeon Siege III is not a very long game. It took me somewhere around twenty hours to finish the entire game. That's short for an RPG even if it is a dungeon crawling, hack-and-slash, action RPG. So, the shortness of the game certainly stood out to me. The RPG elements were decent though, and the decision were interesting and difficult at times, with Obsidian's quality writing apparent in almost every line.

The game starts off slowly, deliberately, and does eventually hit a good climax. The story is strong, despite everything, and I found it interesting all the way through despite its single-mindedness. The characters are mostly... well, I did not find all of the player characters (and companions) to be ridiculously interesting. I played as Lucas and he was neat, kind of the obvious lead character sort of person. The hero with a sword on the box cover, so yeah... But both of the female characters seemed a little less interesting. Maybe it was their voice acting, especially the Archon (kind of a fire elemental ancient thing) Anjali was particularly notable for, in my opinion, not having the best voice acting available. Then again, maybe that's what they meant to do, but to me it came off as not great. Katarina, the other female, was a little more interesting, but I never used her because she constantly died. Her AI seemed to be less intelligent than the other two companions. I didn't have any real complaints about her besides that. Well, besides that she's very obvious fanservice... Reinhart though, the last companion I acquired, was my main man throughout the time I had him in my party. I really liked him and his snarky intelligent nonsense rambling. If I play the game again, I'm playing as him.

The gameplay was surprisingly good, really visceral at times, and somewhat challenging at times as well. I would get frustrated with it at times because I just want to be good at video games, but it took me a while to master the gameplay, and I kind of like that. By the end of the game I could defeat anything, but there was a learning curve and it took about half of the game to maybe two-thirds of the game to really figure out what I had to do in terms of combat. I thought it worked well and I was really pleasantly surprised with it. Dungeon crawling games built on sidequests are not exactly my favorite style of game, but this one stood out to me as having only good sidequests, no filler, and moving along well despite no real fast travel system.

The thing I really need to praise this game on are the visuals. In this day of grand visual quality coming from video games, the visuals of this one really stood out. I loved, absolutely loved, the Causeways, the roads between the world that exist in a ruined world. They appealed to me so much and I thought they were awesome. But the different towns are also incredibly well put together, as are the automatons that are featured fairly heavily and some of the enemies. The game does have a style to it, and I really liked it. It made me smile at times besides the fact that I never smile, so that was cool.

Altogether, this was a good game with a ton of potential. I think most of that potential was realized, but admittedly other parts seemed to be a bit of a slap in the face. The game is short, but at the end of the game they show enemies that they could have put in the game for me to face, like dragons or other wars, and I just wanted to play more and fight dragons. Why show me dragons when I can't fight the dragons? It's teasing me needlessly. So, the game loses some points because I hate being teased.

Out of the last three games I've played in Uncharted 3, LotR: War in the North, and Dungeon Siege III, this is probably my least favorite of the three, but the one that I see with the most potential even in regards to the Uncharted series, which while a powerhouse of a series, quality all the way around, does not have that fantasy element that one can play with and tweak all over the place. I just think that there is room for improvements in this game and this series and I hope that Square Enix will be intelligent enough to put the next game in this franchise in the hands of Obsidian yet again.

Anyway, I did enjoy the game. It was fairly fun, kind of short, but not terrible certainly. So, I'm going to recommend it. Wow, I was not expecting to like this game, I'm not going to lie. And three games in a row, all games that I've given mostly positive reviews for. This is bad. I need to rip something apart soon. I think it's time to watch a bad movie next...

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