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Dungeon Siege

Score: 85%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Microsoft
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Media: CD/2
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: RPG

Graphics & Sound:

Dungeon Siege has great 3D graphics. The environments, characters, and creatures all contain extraordinary amounts of detail, which is reminiscent of games like Dungeon Keeper or Black and White.

The game allows you to zoom in and out as well as rotate and pan the camera. It would have been nice if panning and zooming both offered a wider range, but overall the camera control is excellent. It also would have been nice if the development team had spent more time on collision detection, but instead you are often treated to two headed mules, or characters with four arms, as they stand in the same space. While this doesn't actually detract from game play significantly, it does look rather bizarre.

This game has been billed as one that does not ever display a loading screen, but instead offers a seamless gaming world. This is true, and when you first start a new game, or you load a saved game, there is only a pause of a few seconds. The only other transitions you will see are when the game is automatically saved between chapters.

Sound and music are both outstanding. Jeremy Soule, the award-winning composer, provides the music, and although it does sometimes drown out dialog, it is extremely well done. Sound effects are appropriate and varied.


Gameplay:

Gameplay in Dungeon Siege is more action oriented than your typical role-playing game (RPG). Although it does have some trappings of typical RPGs, there is very little character interaction, and the way items are made available to your characters is more like Diablo II then a more traditional RPG like Icewind Dale

Aspects of gameplay like character development are completely automated in Dungeon Siege. Instead of creating a character using a particular class and race, and then allocating points across various attributes or skills, you instead simply designate the gender, name and appearance of your character, and the actual development is handled by what actions your character performs during the game.

If you tend to equip your character with a mace for most battles, then your character's melee skill, as well as his or her strength attribute, will increase quickly, and that character will be classified as a fighter. If, on the other hand, you equip your character with nature magic spells during battles, then their nature magic skill will increase, and so will their intelligence, and they will be a nature mage.

And this is the elegance of Dungeon Siege. The game focuses most on combat, while character development, questing, and character interaction take a back seat to the carnage. You still have to manage your inventory, but even that is simplified significantly since you can add mules to your party, and they can carry far more than human party members can. Also, the Transmute spell can change items into gold, which means you don't have to carry around mundane items in hopes of selling them at the next town.

This elegance is a double-edged sword though. While combat is well done, it is also repetitive, and even though there are lots of different creatures to fight, they tend be thrown at you in quantity, not quality. Both the AI of the creatures, as well as your own party, is pretty poor. You can set preferences for how each of your party members reacts to threats, but often times you will find yourself managing them as they do stupid things in the face of the constant dangers.


Difficulty:

Dungeon Siege offers three difficulty levels, and for the most part the game isn't too hard at either the first or second level. Since saving and loading games is quick, it is a good idea to save often, and take your time moving through areas.

Combat is frequent, so attempting to move through areas too quickly spells doom for your party. You can have up to eight party members, so specializing certain characters in melee combat, others in ranged combat, and still others in nature or combat magic is a good idea.


Game Mechanics:

Except for the various screens used to manage saved games or set user options, all game actions are available from the main game screen. Inventories can be displayed singly, or up to eight can be displayed side by side, which makes managing them much easier than the typical RPG.

When you encounter a new character and they are available to your party, you can view their current statistics before asking them to join. This is a welcome change from the way most RPGs handle this situation. Since there are only a few character attributes, figuring out if a particular character can use a piece of armor or a weapon is quite easy, and makes management a quick affair.

Overall, Dungeon Siege offers a streamlined game that is fun and involved. If you aren't expecting the next great RPG, you will most likely enjoy it. If you are looking for a game that offers tons of simple combat, great graphics, and wonderful sound and music, then you find a lot to like in this wonderfully presented and action-packed RPG.


-Gordy, GameVortex Communications
AKA Gary Lucero

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows 98/ME/2000/XP, 128MB RAM, 333MHz CPU, 1GB HD space, 8MB 3D video card, DirectX 8.0 compatible sound card
 

Test System:



Windows XP Professional, 1 Ghz Pentium III, 384MB RAM, GeForce 2 Ultra with 64MB RAM, SoundBlaster Live! Value, 32x DVD-ROM.

Windows Druuna: Morbis Gravis Windows Emergency 2: The Ultimate Fight for Life

 
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