There’s a party in my computer, and you’re all invited. Review

Duke Ferris
Dungeon Siege Info

genre

  • RPG

players

  • 1 - 8

Publisher

  • Microsoft

Developer

  • N/A

Release Date

  • 04/02/2005
  • Out Now

Platform

  • PC

rating

There’s a party in my computer, and you’re all invited.

It would definitely be embarrassing if I calculated the number of hours I spent

yelling at my little orcs in Warcraft II; I probably could have gotten

a college degree in the same amount of time. But despite my love of the game,

those idiotic little fighters were just so infuriatingly stupid sometimes. They’d

stand there getting hit by enemies without fighting back or running away or exhibiting

any kind of intelligence at all. Other times they’d run after an enemy all the

way across the map until they’d just run into the enemy base to get slaughtered.

So I yelled.

Then

a clever fellow named Chris Taylor did something revolutionary. He made a game

called Total Annihilation, where the little

guys (er, robots) were actually smart. They’d return fire on an enemy without

waiting to make sure it was okay. They didn’t just blindly walk to their destinations.

They could patrol an area and do smart things, like repair other units or collect

salvage or shoot at bad guys – whatever made sense at the time. Heck, they could

even strafe. And they could do all this without ever needing to check with me,

their supreme commander, which left me free to focus on larger issues like upgrading

my factories or building a new deck on my space yacht for my robo-harem.

Taylor’s latest game is Dungeon Siege, and now he’s done for the RPG

what he did for the RTS. Tired of pausing your game, drinking some health potions,

choosing a spell, targeting an enemy, and then unpausing? Sick of watching your

character stand there getting pummeled because he won’t fight back until you

tell him to? You won’t find any of that here. With smart characters, a smart

interface and a wealth of smart refinements, Dungeon Siege is simply

the most streamlined RPG ever made.

The terrific design is immediately evident when you consider the ease with

which you can deal with your party. Click the health potion button, and everyone

in your party who needs to will automatically drink exactly as much health tonic

as they need. Party members will help each other out, defending one another

or casting healing spells as needed. These little guys could almost play the

game for you.

But you should probably try playing it yourself, because Dungeon Siege

plays like a combination of Diablo II and Baldur’s

Gate
, all set in a very pretty 3D world called the Kingdom of Ehb. It seems

an era of peace has come to an end, as your humble farming village has been

attacked and a new evil stalks the land. A modest farmer, you must take up your

hoe, gather others to help where you can find them, and smite the evil. Smite

it! Fortunately, you’ll soon be able to trade in your hoe for some more effective

weaponry.

You’ll get better at swinging that hoe, too, at least if you keep at it. Rather

than having traditional character classes, in Dungeon Siege you’ll get

better at things by doing them. Cast a lot of spells and you’ll find yourself

getting smarter and more powerful as a wizard. Shoot a bow and your dexterity

will improve quickly as you become a more proficient archer. In all there are

4 skills – 2 combat, 2 spell classes – that you can mix and match to your heart’s

content.

On top of improving your skills, Dungeon Siege also features a very

impressive array of items to help beef you out. From a humble bone with which

you might club a rival monkey to mighty magical swords, the number of different

items must be approaching a gazillion. Dungeon Siege even features a

very large selection of hats.

Plus,

anytime you equip a new item, you actually get to see it on your character.

Whip out your Crossbow of Pummeling and watch as your character fires glowing

bolts of pain. The graphics are really quite impressive, with great landscapes

and well-detailed monsters. Venture into an ice cave and the mist oozes off

the ice; load up your pack mule, and his burden gets larger; shoot an arrow

into a troll, and there’s an actual arrow stuck in him. This is one pretty game.

But expect things to get pretty jerky if your system only just meets the minimum

requirements.

Still, the lack of load times will wow you despite any performance glitches.

The game loads once right when you turn it on, and then proceeds to stream in

data effortlessly. You can walk into a room, take an elevator down a few floors,

romp about for an hour in a dungeon, then make your way back up to the surface

without ever seeing a load screen. Awesome.

The refinement continues when you consider the pack mule, a handy beast of

burden you can buy to make more room for the vast numbers of items you’ll encounter.

Load him up! Need even more room? Then buy another one.

If you get tired of saving the Kingdom of Ehb, you might like the taste of

the solid multiplayer game. Finding an Internet game is easy, and there are

already plenty of player servers up and running. The big difference in the multiplayer

game is that you can only have one character. The theory is that the up-to-eight

players you have in a multiplayer game will all group together and act like

your party in the single player game.

However, the Kingdom of Ehb is huge and the multiplayer game also includes another entirely new huge land, so in my experience people seldom stick together in large groups, or even see each other as they adventure through the vast world. Another problem with the multiplayer is that while you can bring your regular characters into the multiplayer, you can’t bring your newly experienced multiplayer characters back out into the single player game.

Personally, I’ve been having a great time playing this advanced dungeon-crawl.

I remember being impressed long ago when old-school RPGs first made life easier

by adding a “pool gold” button, so Dungeon Siege‘s monumental ease-of-use

is particularly impressive to me. Some people may be turned off by the initiative

of the party, preferring to control all the little details. Not me. My throat

has been spared hours of shouting, and once again I’m free to concentrate on

the larger issues… like having fun.





REVOLUTION REPORT CARD

4.5
Rating
Smart little guys
Mighty smiting
Great graphics
Bazillions of items
Easy to play
Huge multiplayer worlds
Usually lonely multiplayer worlds