User review spotlight: Carmageddon (DOS). Released in 1997.

Dungeon Siege (Windows)

85
MobyRank
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
3.5
MobyScore
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  kbmb (399)
Written on  :  Nov 12, 2002
Platform  :  Windows

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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Summary

A great game overall.

The Good

First of all, I'd like to point out that this is not a descendant of Diablo like all you youngsters probably think. It's a descendant of games like Rogue, from a time before all these new fangled sprites and polygons. Go play some Nethack and learn where Diablo's roots really are.

I was expecting Dungeon Siege to be another poor attempt of somehow revolutionizing RPGs and failing in the process. I was expecting a dungeon crawl with dumb 3D graphics and a dumb storyline and just a downright stupid game. But after playing through it, I've really changed my mind. Dungeon Siege is more than a dungeon crawl, it's more than a "3D Diablo", it's a very large and very fun game.

I'm sure many people are going to absolutely hate this game, but I think that's because they were expecting more than the game was even attempting to offer. Dungeon Siege isn't about revolutionizing RPGs and it's not about setting a new standard for games. Instead, Dungeon Siege simply gives you a great adventure to play through. Sure it's linear. Sure you've seen this kind of thing before. But Dungeon Siege isn't about giving you something new. It's about giving you a better version of what you've seen before. And it does that very well.

Dungeon Siege is a 3D hack 'n slash RPG. You control your character, and all characters you recruit from a third person perspective with the ability to rotate and angle the camera with almost complete freedom.

The story is fairly simple and straightforward. It seems some bad guys have infested the lands, and you, a lowly farmer, must fight through the hordes of enemies and save the world from evil. Maybe the story is dull, but hey, if it gives you a reason to pick up a pitchfork and start slaying green things that want to kill you, I won't complain. Once again I'll point out that the story wasn't trying to be something better. I felt that if it had tried to accomplish more than it did, the game would have suffered.

The distance you travel from your farmlands in the beginning of the game to the enemy stronghold at the very end of the game is VERY long. Despite the seemingly unbelievable "lowly farmer turns hero and saves the world" setting, you really do get a feeling of how very far your character has become. Because of the game's length, you've seen your character really evolve from fighting tiny little rodents in rags with a pitchfork to slaying dragons with steel armor and a battle axe.

And probably the best part of the game is the fact that it loads all the area on the fly, so you'll only see one loading screen whenever you start or load your game. After that, it's a seamless transition from one area to the next, from above ground to subterranean dungeon.

While the dungeons aren't randomized, most of the weapons are. This is what made Diablo such a blast, the fact that when killing monsters, you'll never quite know what kind of loot they'll drop. They'll usually drop something along your current level, but occasionally they'll drop something with an enchantment that'll put you levels ahead of where you were. Ahh, the spoils of war.

The amount of monsters found in the game is tremendous! Each one differs from the next and you'll find them in their appropriate setting. Graveyards will be filled with the walking dead, in forests you'll find wolves, swamps will be filled with trolls and tentacles that thrust out of the mud and attack you. And in between you'll find an army of literally hundreds of different monsters, each one with a certain uniqueness that makes them as exciting to fight as dangerous.

Unlike nearly every RPG, your character isn't trapped in his role from the beginning of the game. You don't choose his class, because he's equally horrible at everything from the start. But pick up a pick-axe and he'll eventually get better at melee combat. Let him take the enemy on from a distance with a bow and his ranged combat skill will go up. See how well he fares with spells and he's a mage in the making.

The graphics are done very well. Not so ridiculously polygon-filled that it makes the game chug, but you're not likely to find many blocky low-poly things among the Kingdom of Ehb (well, unless you crank the detail levels down).

You can recruit up to seven adventurers (or six and a mule) to journey with you. While you're not forced to recruit anyone at all, you would be wise to do so, as you'll find yourself so overwhelmed at times by hordes of monsters that there's not much more you can do but let your men fight on their own and hope for the best. And if things do get out of control, you can pause the game and issue orders, a la Baldur's Gate (or more appropriately, Icewind Dale).

Also something I personally liked about the game is that it includes guns and the like. I was always curious as to why, in most fantasy games, there was the invention of gun powder but no trace of any kind of guns. There are guns in Dungeon Siege, and even a laser cannon!

The music is also very good and fitting, though the sound is choppy (but it's probably just my sound card)

The Bad

I gave a lot of praise to this game, but there are a lot of things that aren't so great. Like the camera. For the most part, the camera is okay. It's easy to navigate and gives you a lot of freedom of movement. But there are times when it is your worst enemy. Many times, the camera will hijack your screen and move to where you can't see anything. And there's no way to stop it from hijacking you. If you move it so there is a wall in its way, it will move away. You would think that would be a nice feature, except the "wall" that the camera detecting might just be a little rock, or something else that is in no way blocking your view whatsoever. Sometimes you must move the camera in such a way so that you can see the enemy that's hiding behind the corner so you can attack him, but just as you click to attack him, the camera suddenly pans away and you send your entire party into the middle of the monster's lair and get them all killed.

A feature that would have been quite nice would be the ability to move the camera in a complete 360 degree area. You can never look straight ahead, you always must be looking at a downward angle. If you could look farther ahead, it would have been a great advantage.

Another poor thing is that you can only rotate the camera around. You can't just roam free with it, and when the game is paused, your view is stuck on your currently selected character. If you have another character far away from your view and you can't see him by rotating the camera, you can select him by clicking his portrait, but you can't shift the view to him without unpausing the game first, and that can sometimes cost you your battle.

The game isn't without bugs, and these bugs haven't been addressed yet in patches, though they most likely will later. For one, monsters will sometimes retreat, and your men will just let him! And your ranges units don't always respond to your orders if they'd just fired. If you want your archer to destroy a barrel, and then (while the arrow is still in the air) you tell him to destroy another barrel, he simply won't do it. There's about a one-second delay in which they won't follow any additional orders.

The packmule seemed like a good idea, but the way the enemies overwhelm you, you need eight men to fight on your team, and a mule quickly becomes a pointless asset. At least the enemies leave him alone after he gets knocked unconcious.

There are some instances where you'll have no choice but to walk into a trap of the enemy's. Like a part where you take an elevator down into a horde of enemies that would be impossible to defeat. So the only way to can beat them is by using the elevator, hit them as much as you can, and retreat hoping nobody got killed during the skirmish. Repeat about seven thousand times until the enemy is finally dead. There are only two instances I recall of this happening, though. Thankfully.

The Bottom Line

One of the funnest games I've played in a long time. It's a long game, guaranteed to keep you occupied for a long time. As long as you're not expecting some "breakthrough" type of game, you'll love it.