This year sees the release of quite a few eagerly awaited titles for RPG fans. First on the shop shelves out of these titles is Dungeon Siege. Designed by Chris Taylor, the man who designed Total Annihilation, the game is a combat heavy RPG in a not to dissimilar vein to Diablo II. What makes Dungeon Siege stand out though is that unlike Diablo II it has a full 3D game environment and looks fantastic as a result.
The game's story is set in the Kingdom of Ehb. You are working away in your farm when suddenly a friend, who has been attacked, staggers toward you and with his last breath tells you that the Krug are attacking and you are to make your way to Stonebridge instantly and warn Gyorn. Almost immediately you come across the Krug and you're forced to battle your way through them as you make your way to Stonebridge.
Dungeon Siege cannot fail to impress you. The interface is wonderfully easy and uses visual clues galore. Icons flash, such as the journal icon which flashes to let you know that something has been added to it, and text labels can be attached to items that are on the floor. These labels make objects far easier to see and are a must if you are playing the game at some of the higher resolutions where the objects can appear really small. Best of all though is the fact that everything in the game is subtitled. The cutscenes and the conversations have been wonderfully subtitled and this is made even better by the fact that for the conversations, dialogue boxes have been used. These dialogue boxes allow you to scroll back through the conversations and must be clicked off for the game to continue.
Graphically Dungeon Siege is excellent. The fully 3D environment allows you to zoom right in and out. Close in the graphics are quite detailed whilst remaining zoomed out is the most efficient way to conduct battles and gaining a sense of direction. Pushing the mouse back and forth tilts the camera whilst moving it from side to side turns the camera. The zoom feature can be operated with the use of a mouse wheel. Of course this richly detailed 3D world comes at a price and you are going to require a decent graphics card and processor if you intend to run the game at high resolution. If you haven't the latest hardware though you can still run the game fine providing you stick to the lower resolutions such as 640x480 and 800x600.
Character classes do not have any rigid structure in Dungeon Siege. Whenever you use a weapon or spell your ability with that weapon or spell will slightly increase. In other words if you constantly use a sword then you will become proficient in melee attack and your rating for that attribute will soar. There are ratings for melee, ranged, nature magic and combat magic. At the beginning of the game your level for all four attributes is zero but the more you use these attacks the quicker your level will rise. Of course as in other RPGs there are weapons and spells that you will come across that require a certain level before they can be used so you should bare in mind how you want to play and not try to share the experience too thinly between the different attributes. Compared to most RPGs this will sound oversimplified but in practice it is very liberating and gives you the freedom to play the game as you want to and not be bound by the conditions of you predetermined character conditions.
The game is absolutely full of innovative touches, such as the inclusion of packmules. Rather than getting bogged down with your riches and potions and getting to the silly situation of having to throw things away in order to have space to pick something else up you can now purchase a packmule. This creature enables you to carry a lot more stuff and therefore be able to sell a lot more stuff when you arrive in the next town. This is a fantastic inclusion and makes you wonder why no one else has thought of it before.
Gas Powered Games have really come up with the goods in Dungeon Siege and it impresses on so many levels that to be honest it makes Diablo II look out of date. If you are at all into RPGs and particularly like the balanced tipped in favour of combat then Dungeon Siege is a must.
Overall Game Rating: 9.1/10 Dungeon Siege looks and plays superbly. Gas Powered Games have streamlined the heavy interface that usually dogs an RPG and reworked it so as it is as intuitive as is humanly possible. The character development is completely up to you and it moulds to suit your style of play by doing away with the predefined character class system and improving the attributes that you choose to excel at.
Deaf Gamers comment: Absolutely perfect.