Life is not happy in the kingdom of Ehb. The famed 10th legion, which maintained the stability of the realm, was blamed when the monarch was murdered, and its members hunted down and killed by the angry citizens, inflamed by the vengeful warrior Jeyne Kassynder. Thirty years on, the reputedly last surviving legionnaire, the Venerable Odo, is trying to gather the legion’s offspring together in an attempt to reassert their dominance.
It has been six years since the last Dungeon Siege game, and it’s not just the kingdom of Ehb that has undergone radical change. Developer Obsidian is now in charge, and this time round you have a choice of just four characters for the single-player adventure – Lucas the melee-favouring swordsman, Anjali the fire-wielder, Reinhart the mage, and Katarina who manages to combine sorcery with pistols.
Lively co-op, frustrating PC controls
Let’s say from the outset that the saving grace for this game is the co-op gameplay, in which up to four players (one from each class) can participate. The balance between the protagonists is ideal for fighting off hordes of enemies and the inevitable boss fights. Because your friends can jump in and out of the gameplay whenever they choose, it means you can call on them when you’re at greatest need as well as when you all have a spare hour together.
The main problem with fighting solo – and the principal irritation with the entire game – is the extremely convoluted control system. It feels like it was designed mainly for consoles (and there are PS3 and X360 versions). On the PC, movement rests on the W and S keys, while camera panning is with A and D. Gold is picked up if you run across it, but other loot requires exact positioning and pressing E, while skills and abilities rest on selecting 1,2 and 3 – sometimes with Shift as well – thus leading to some frantic button mashing.
Puzzling upgrades, beautiful graphics
Doing this in the middle of a heated battle, with no healing potions to use (instead there are post-fight, randomly placed orbs or skills that heal with combat) is a nightmare for a single hero against large numbers or bosses. Even buying and selling upgrades is fraught with ambiguities, as it’s not often clear whether the items are suitable for your class until they’re purchased. Having said that, gold is easy to come by and you’ll soon be able to purchase almost anything you want.
Visually, the landscape and dungeon detail is often dazzling and the magical effects in particular can be spectacular. It’s not exactly an open map, though, with most of the action and quests following strict linear lines and when you play in co-op, you both have to stay within the frame rather than stray away to heal.
Company: Square Enix
- Co-op combat against multiple opponents.
- Maddening controls.
While often graphically exciting in landscapes and battle scenes, Dungeon Siege III is seriously let down on the PC by clunky and frustrating keyboard controls, and is best experienced in co-op mode.