Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna PC CD-ROM Official Website
by Microsoft Game Studios
Developed by Gas Powered Games/Mad Doc Software
Released - Out Now
Price : £29.99
Dungeon Siege was an impressive hack 'n' slash RPG title from Gas Powered Games that certainly kept us playing for quite a while when it was released back in 2002. One of the most appealing aspects of the game was that you weren't bound to any particular class. The more you used a weapon or spell the more proficient you became so that in actual fact the way you played the game determined the nature of your character. This made a refreshing change from the usual pick a class and play within the set boundaries approach that so many games of this nature employ. Of course with the game being as successful as it was it was bound to have an expansion released for it. The inevitable expansion is now here and Legends of Aranna is it's name.
Legends of Aranna adds 20+ hours of gameplay and this time around the setting for the games events is the Island of Utraeans although your journey will begin just off the island in the snow-covered town of Arhok. The town is recovering from the trauma of the Great Wars when an ancient darkness awakens and sets out to get revenge. The expansion pack offers 70 new monsters, 50 new spells (some of which are really powerful in order to help you deal with the strong enemies that await you) and backpacks are now available to help you hold more treasure, a new pack animal, the Tragg, is also available (and this time it can actually defend itself). Some excellent interface improvements have been made such as, the ability to sell all your items in a shop, which can help speed trading and the option to distribute your health items between the members of your party with a single click of the mouse. Your companions AI has also been improved and you have more control over their actions this time around too. If you like playing Dungeon Siege online you'll be pleased to learn that Legends of Aranna allows you to save your multiplayer game. It's fair to say that enough parts of the game have been improved to please long standing players of Dungeon Siege, which is always great to see.
Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna is a stand alone expansion pack. What this usually means is that the new content doesn't require the original game in order to play. Whilst this is also true for Legends of Aranna, this expansion pack offers a whole lot more. When you install the game you'll notice that desktop shortcuts are placed for both Dungeon Siege (the original game) and the Legends of Aranna expansion. You can either play the game in it's original form by using the Dungeon Siege shortcut or you can use the Legends of Aranna shortcut to play the expansion or the original game with the expansions' new features (you get a choice of what to play when you start a new game), which is excellent and offers both newbies and Dungeon Siege veterans plenty of replay value.
As you would expect from an expansion, there aren't any really graphical improvements. The main graphical differences come in the shape of the new spells and new creatures that have been included. This isn't really a criticism though as the game still looks good, if a little angular when zoomed in close by today's standards. The game can run at resolutions ranging from 640x480 in 16 bit colour to 1024x768 in 32 bit colour, which will probably disappoint those of you with a 17" TFT screen who like to run at the native resolution of 1280x1024 although if you read the readme for the game you can add an unsupported windowed mode if you really need to.
Dungeon Siege was very deaf gamer friendly and Legends of Aranna is no different. The introduction and cutscenes are subtitled. These are shown in a letterbox style with the text being displayed in the lower black border to maximise the clarity. The text automatically scrolls but it's at a slow pace so it's quite easy to read. All in-game dialogue is shown in dialogue boxes that can be read at your leisure because you have to close them off to continue. The game has a journal which keeps a log of all your quests and objectives and you are notified (either through text or flashing icons on the lower right side of the screen) when additions are made to your journal, which is excellent. You'll also get a visual warning if your party members come under attack (their portrait will flash orange) whilst they are off screen, which again is excellent. In short there are no problems for deaf gamers at all with Legends of Aranna.
Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna is certainly a worthy addition to the Dungeon Siege series and will keep seasoned players of the game happy until Dungeon Siege 2 finally arrives. Whilst the main plot of the game hasn't changed, the new additions to the game, interface changes and extra spells, AI tweaks etc., are certainly most welcome. The price may seem a little steep for an expansion pack but it's great to see that those who never played Dungeon Siege can just buy Legends of Aranna and enjoy not only the expansion but the original game as well. Personally I think the ability to play through the original Dungeon Siege with all the extras that the expansion offers is excellent and has made me want to play through the whole game again.
Game Rating: 8.5/10
A solid single player story coupled with some really useful new features make Legends of Aranna a must buy for fans of Dungeon Siege.
Like Dungeon Siege it's very deaf gamer friendly.