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Action RPG






Gas Powered Games



T (Teen)



August 12, 2008



- Excellent graphics

- Well done voice acting

- Good use of sound effects



- No music to motivate the player

- Overly constrained character development

- Overly generic weapons and equipment

- Half-hearted features of questionable value

- Lazy storytelling



Review: Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura (PC)

Review: Dungeon Siege II (PC)

Review: Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II - The Sith Lords (PC)



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Space Siege

Score: 6.0 / 10


space siege          space siege


Chris Taylor is one of those designers that hardcore gamers recognize.  You'll hear RTS grognards wax rhapsodic about Total Annihilation long before you hear them talk about Supreme Commander, though I imagine they appreciate getting a new RTS out of him after so long.  For me, my first exposure to Chris Taylor's genius was the original Dungeon Siege.  Some will argue, rightly, that it was linear and derivative.  But linear and derivative though it was, it also had plenty of new wrinkles on the standard dungeon crawl, enough to keep me glued to my seat, enough to cause me to almost come in late once or twice because I just had to see what happened next.  His newest RPG, Space Siege, suggests the name of the hit series but does not do its legacy any favors.


The Dungeon Siege series has always great visuals, in part because of Gas Powered Games' expert use of their own Siege engine.  Dungeon Siege II was more restrained in its improvements but still looked better than it's predecessor.  Space Siege does not disappoint on the graphics.  The character models are highly detailed, the weapons models are distinct, the environments are big and look suitable to the sci-fi setting.  Visual effects are highly detailed and look great.  Even




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the lighting comes into play, making the player pay attention to where he's stepping and what his immediate environment happens to look like.  I didn't notice any appreciable slowdown when multiple enemies and effects were on the screen, which is another big mark in its favor.


Audio proves something of a mixed bag on Space Siege.  On the plus side, there are


plenty of well executed sound effects and the voice cast does a great job with an occasionally hammy script.  Weapons are easily recognizable by sound and you're always given a brief audio warning when you've passed too close to a cleverly hidden mine.  The big negative is the serious lack of a musical score.  One of the things that kept me pumped up and playing on both Dungeon Siege games was the musical score.  Here, nothing but a bit of soundtrack for the opening movie and a few bits and pieces scattered so far apart it seems completely random.  I can understand not using a musical score if you're trying to achieve a horror effect, but for run-and-gun dungeon crawling RPGs (even if the dungeon is a massive starship) it doesn't work so well.


To be blunt, Space Siege's gameplay falls completely flat on its face.  It's not bad, but it's not awe-inspiring either.  The game itself is nice and stable, no crashes, no weird audio or video glitches, just a perfectly solid environment from a technical standpoint.  But Space Siege also completely sucks anything resembling joy or excitement out of your progress through the game.  Yes, the environments are very destructible.  Yes, the physics engine is good enough to model what happens when you kick a potted plant around an office.  But these things do not make a game fun in and of themselves.  To be sure, the level designers took full advantage of the engine to rig up mines hiding in places where you wouldn't look for them, and getting surprised like that often teaches you to be more observant of your surroundings.  If only good level design could save this game.


From the skill tree to the weapons to your cybernetic augmentations to your only companion as you go blasting throughout the ship, everything feels overly constrained and somehow generic.


Infinite ammo for the guns, good.  The only functional weapons on the ship being in your hands, somehow not so impressive.  Ability to upgrade weapons and armor, good.  Using wholly generic "parts" as currency for these upgrades, not impressive.


space siege          space siege


Gone are the mechanics of levelling up a character by what equipment and abilities they use most often.  Now, you get skill points when the game decides you've earned them.  Some people may have complained about the party management in the earlier Dungeon Siege games, but I rather enjoyed having plenty of firepower available.  Now, it's you and your pet robot.  The rest of the surviving crew members would rather hole up and yammer on the radio than come out and help clear the decks of alien scum.


There seems to be just too many half-assed "features" and not enough good gameplay.  The cybernetic enhancements are a perfect example of this.  Your character's "humanity rating" goes down the more cybernetics you add in, yet there doesn't seem to be any real detriment to doing so.  If anything, you're spared a lot of useless whining and moaning from NPCs over the radio about horrible cybernetics are.  Moreover, there's not a lot of branching in the storyline until you reach the next to last mission, and I'm sorry to say that making the player choose when you've been essentially leading them down one particular mindset is horribly lazy from a story perspective and a gameplay perspective.  Present the player with lots of choices throughout the game and have those choices translate into consequences, or don't give them choices.  One final gripe involves the background filler material.  Some of it is really good, on a par with System Shock or Deus Ex.  Some of it is barely disguised advertising for the multiplayer component of the game (which is equally disappointing).  And some of it is just utterly useless crap.  The big offender is the "mysterious little girl running across your path" NPC that shows up everywhere.  If you want to do an homage to Aliens, then let the player talk to her.  Build a mission or two around her.  If you want to do an homage to F.E.A.R., then build a mission or two around stopping her.  What finally happens with her not only makes no sense, it just irritates me with its "WTF?!" ending.


It's not quite worth the effort to chuck Space Siege out the airlock, but its extraneous mass that could be put to better use.


- Axel Cushing

(September 13, 2008)


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