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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Role-Playing Game

 

Publisher

Microsoft

 

Developer

Gas Powered Games

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

August 16, 2005

 

 

- Comprehensive interface

- Game is a good length

 

 

- Story is uninteresting

- Nothing beyond hack and slash gameplay

- Graphics underwhelming

- Map view could be better

 

 

Review: Dungeon Siege III (PS3)

Review: Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna (PC)

Review: Fable: The Lost Chapters (PC)

Review: Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide (PC)

 

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Dungeon Siege II

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

There was a time that I gave up playing video games. This was mostly due to my available PC at the time being about 5 or 6 generations old, but it had more to do with the gaming experiences that I had come across that led to that point. Most of the games that I had played at that time were only entertaining unto themselves. By that I mean, they were well designed and challenging enough, but they did not stay with me after I played them and there was nothing that I could take away from the experience save having spent two or three hours having a decent enough time. For some people this may be enough, but after I started playing games again, I found that the medium as a whole had matured and so had the games that were available. To me Dungeon Siege II is a reminder of the boredom that led me to give up video games for that brief 1 or 2 years. While the game itself is really well designed, and playing it is enjoyable enough, after I exit the game, there is nothing that stays with me. I could have just as easily been daydreaming for the past three hours of gameplay, rather than pointing and clicking my way through a thousand enemies. And believe me, when it comes down to it, make sure you have an expendable mouse to play to with, or one that will stand ten thousand plus left and right clicks an hour.

 

dungeon siege 2 review           dungeon siege 2 review

 

In all seriousness though, the mechanics of the actual gameplay in any game, should be, and is generally in most games, secondary to the user manipulating the controls. There must be some thought process to engage the player otherwise we are left with the mindless mashing of buttons simply to watch the graphics on the screen react. This seems to be a fundamental aspect of gameplay that I have found lacking in actions RPGs like Dungeon Siege 2. The game is based on a new story in the land of Aranna where a legend of a broken shield has you chasing the broken pieces to stop an evil warrior bent on using the magic of the land for evil. I really can't recount specific details about the story because as the game wore on, I found myself tiring of what each character had to say and wanted merely to get through their dialogue so I could proceed with the action sequences. While the action of the game was able to hold my attention for the first hour or two of gameplay in each gaming session of 3 or 4 hours, the story slowly became more of a burden to suffer through, rather than a motivating factor for playing the game. This is a problem as after the excitement of hacking through groups of enemies has worn off, the story isn't good enough to warrant drudging through the action of the game.

 

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The gameplay is actually very straightforward. The perspective with which you view your character and their part is from a pulled back 3d person view where the camera can be rotated around your character as well as be made to zoom in on your character and party. As mentioned, you left click to indicate where you want your character to move to and you right click on any enemies to attack them. There are a few objects that you will be able to manipulate in the world such as doors, and switches and these 

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are again right clicked to be activated. You are able to control any one of your party members, and the computer will basically follow your lead based on the party settings you may have laid out. You can set your party to mirror mode so that they will only attack the target you are currently attacking, or you can set them to rampage mode, where they will attack any enemy in sight. For the most part your party acts very predictably and they do exactly as you do in mirror mode which is a good thing. They will flee when you do, and they will move to attack what you attack. The AI pathfinding is also quite good, and there were very few times when a party member was left behind after using a lift, or a moving platform.

 

The action is fairly entertaining, if not repetitive. By clicking and holding the right mouse button, you can command your character to attack and to keep attacking an enemy until that enemy is down. While no skill is really involved in doing so, it is still somewhat satisfying to lay waste to a whole group of monsters and creatures.

 

There is little strategy involved even when coordinating a party with a combination of different character types to attack. For your magic users, you can simply select which spell to use as a default, while any ranged and melee characters simply do perform their standard attacks. The only real skill involved is in maintaining your party's health and mana levels. You conveniently have hotkeys assigned to potions that will replenish each of these. You also have a few special attacks that you can use to even the odds in situations where you may be overwhelmed. These regenerate slowly, but using them in the right circumstances can really save you.

 

dungeon siege 2 review          dungeon siege 2 review

 

A lot of the design decisions around the interface and how the game is set up for the player are very good. This is in my opinion what makes the game somewhat worthwhile and entertaining. Each character is able to play in whatever class they use. This means that if you use melee attacks, you will gain experience in your melee skill. If you constantly use a bow, you will gain experience in your ranged attacks. There is quite a bit of character customization that you can perform apart from simply playing towards whatever class of character you wish to use. There are bonuses that you gain when you reach a given level. Regular leveling up of your stats like strength and intelligence is handled automatically by the game. Although I thought I would miss this aspect of character creation and management, I didn't find that I missed it when actually playing the game. There are also temporary spells that you can cast by reciting chants at chant monuments that will grant given bonuses. These can provide some help, although I didn't find myself using the chants too much.

 

Traveling through the game is also quite easy to do as you have access to portals and if you have a nature magic user, you can generate portals at will. These portals link you to other locations in the world as well as to the towns. One aspect of your navigation through the world was the map system that was created. The world map and the mini map in the game are not really helpful in finding where you want to go. The world map is too general and doesn't show enough detail, while the mini map shows the detail that you need, but is too small to see a larger area should you need to find a direct path. Luckily, the quest management system is quite good and is generally very clear on where you need to go and what you need to do. The quests are broken down into primary and secondary quests. The primary quests follow the main storyline, while the secondary quests are acquired by speaking to the town’s people. People that have quests to provide have an orange question mark over their head. When you take a quest, the question mark changes colour and when you complete a quest, the symbol changes to an exclamation. This way, you aren't walking all over a town talking to everyone just to obtain a quest, and you also will be able to easily identify who to talk to once you have completed a quest.

 

Saving and dying is also handled by the game rather interestingly and you won't need to constantly load after having died. In fact, you won't be able to as the game automatically tracks any attempts with which to circumvent the save and load process after you have died. Rather, when you die, you are automatically returned to the nearest town without any of your equipment. Instead of loading you will need to battle your way back to where you died. Once you get there, your equipment automatically comes to you and is configured on you as it was when you died. This entire process seems to have been made to prevent players from saving and loading over and over again and really does help to streamline the game. The inventory management system is also fairly good with minimal micro management needed. Players are also able to customize weapons with various ingredients to make a given weapon more powerful.

 

The production values are fairly good when taking into consideration both the sound and the graphics. Stylistically, I found the graphics to be a little bland and slightly dated when zoomed in. However they don't take away from the overall game experience. Overall, there isn't too much that is negative that can be said about the game from a technical or design standpoint. From an intangible standpoint, and from what I look for in an excellent game, I found Dungeon Siege 2 to be lacking. As outlined, after playing the game for a few 3 hour sessions, the gameplay seemed quite repetitive, and there was little challenge either mentally, strategically, or in twitch reflex. The story isn't good enough to push the player through the repetitive action sequences, and the gamer is left with little else but to left click their way through hundreds of enemies. I don't know if it's just me, but I need a little more engagement in order to find a game fulfilling.

 

- Mark Leung

(October 5, 2005)

 

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