Dungeon Siege 2 Review
|Gas Powered Games
|September 2nd, 2005
|Simon Price (SieFly)
|Buy now at Amazon.co.uk
The first Dungeon Siege game had me gripped for quite some time and even in this world of excessive sequels I was excited by the prospect of playing Dungeon Siege 2. I do love a good RPG, especially ones that I can play offline at my own pace, this is my adventure after all.
Dungeon Siege 2 is an amazing 4 discs worth and does take some installing, my advice is to use this time to read through the manual before you start to play, it will be time well spent.
First of all, you have to realise that this type of RPG game is not likely to blow you away with fancy hi-tech graphics, that's not really the point. While nothing blows you away, the general enviroments are very well drawn. If you zoom all the way in with your cameras things don't tend to look that great, having said that, it's not such a problem as you can't see much of the game in that close. While zoomed all the way out, everything looks just fine, if functional. Graphics are not Dungeon Siege 2's strongest point, but quite frankly it doesn't matter at all.
The sound effects in Dungeon Siege 2 are really very good, most of the time you don't notice them, but if you listen carefully there are subtle differences in the sounds that each type of item makes. Likewise music isn't all that prominent, as you might expect your attention is usually centered on the game, half of the time the music might as well not even be there but it is certainly not annoying or repetitive in any way, which is a definite bonus.
My main gripe with Duneon Siege 2 is that some of the voice acting is quite poor, while 90% of it is very, very good indeed, there are one or two voices that are totally over acted, one in particular could have done with some Tunes or any other cough sweet they might prefer. I'm afraid these few bad voice overs wound me up a little and had me searching for the mute button regularly. Pity, because there is such a lot of good voice acting in the game and what would undoubtedly have been a big positive point in this review now isn't.
Dungeon Siege 2 is not a simple Hack 'n Slash affair, it's a much more in depth RPG, character and skill development play a big role. Not only can you kit out your main character, but you can now also equip all your companions that travel with you. You can even have a pet. In the first Dungeon Siege they gave you a mule who would follow you around and carry any items that you didn't have space for, but you can now chose which type of pet you'd like. Feeding your pet certain items determines what sort of powers and strengths they offer to you later in the game, so you can develop your pet throughout the quests from a baby to a pretty useful member of the party.
As in most games if this genre, when starting out you have the option to choose which race to play and therefore roughly which role you wish to follow. There are four races in Dungeon Siege 2, Dryads, Elves, Half Giants and Humans. Dryads are excellent archers and offer high intelligence plus some resistances. Elves are the most intelligent which helps in mastering magical powers. Half Giants are the strongest characters physically, but they aren't the most intelligent which makes them unsuitable for ranged combat. Humans offer a mid-range base level so they don't start off strong in any role.
When starting the game you pretty much get stuck straight into the action with a tutorial helping you along the way. I would have prefered the old style tutorial method of teaching you how to play with invidual skills before sticking you into the action in the main game world. The current method means you have to pretty much learn what you're being taught right away or face a pretty quick death, a good incentive I guess, but also a touch frustrating at times.
If you have played Dungeon Siege before, you will be familiar with the controls and movement already, but to a new player it can seem overwhelming with all the options available. Movement is done by clicking where you wish your character to move to, and attacking enemies is much the same, clicking an enemy will cause your character to attack that character, with each click being an attacking move.
From the first mission, the game draws you in. The cut-scenes and story lines are very impressive, and only get better later in the game. As with most games in this genre there are side stories and quests to complete on your journey. Sometimes it can feel as if you're losing track of the main plot, but the game will move onto more of the story just in time to draw you back in. It's also good that you can attempt any of the sub quests whenever you like, they are not linear in any way, this means you can rattle straight through the main plot if you want, or take your time and explore, Dungeon Siege 2 is a fairly big game.
The game world can seem pretty daunting at first, it's huge, to combat the potential for lots of long boring walks there are strategically placed teleporters that offer you the ability to warp to pre-discovered places on the map. They also let you cast a spell to get back to the main buildings pretty easily. As well as the teleporters there are also shrines, these shrines offer a choice of armour and health boosts. To use the shrine you have to 'chant' them which requires a chant in your possesion. These can be found either randomly throughout the world, or they can be claimed by completing certain quests and tasks. You can also regenerate health and mana by finding certain plants, these plants can be used if you have a nature character in your party, where they can turn the plants into much needed medicines and potions.
Developing your character is a simple affair achieved by simply using the items you favour. For example if you equip yourself with swords you will both grow in your sword skills and also in your melee and strength which enabled you to wield much stronger and heavier weapons. There are 4 main skills, these are Melee, Ranged, Natural magic and Combat magic. You can use any combination of these skills meaning you can have a well balanced character, or one that specialises in certain skills.
Focusing on one skill will obviously mean your character is much more powerful in that chosen field. You will find plenty of different weapons and armour located in shops in the main building that you start in but they do cost a lot, and saving a lot of money takes quite a lot of playing time. Your money will soon start to drain if you have members in your party helping on quests as you have to pay them a fee for their help.
One new feature in Dungeon Siege 2 is the use of specialised powers. At higher levels you have more choice in what you get to
specialise in, so if you take a Melee fighter you get allocated points to use in specialised slots, these slots offer a Superpower.
For a fighter a knockout blow or power attack can prove vital in the heat of battle, but be warned they do take a while to recharge
so choose when you use them wisely.
While you are adventuring, the log book will be storing every little bit of information, ranging from what sort of enemies you have encountered to a simple 'what does this do' page, which tells you what your items actually do. It also holds your quest items and quest updates so you don't have to focus on one quest, you can always come back to them at a later point and have a written record to refer too.
While fighting the pause button is a godsend, the idea being that you can change spells, assign new roles or heal your characters etc, all while you are paused. This means that you can offer up some commands when paused then un-pause and your team follow your commands as soon as you un-pause. This is a vital technique and takes a bit of practise but it will save your life on many occasions.
As a keen RPG fan, I found Dungeon Siege 2 good enough to keep me interested for a long time with the different tasks and character building. While the game lacks the amazing eye candy you get with some other modern RPG's, it's still very respectable to look at, especially zoomed all the way out, generally it's sound is good bar a little dodgy voice acting, a mute button soon solves that problem though. The game itself is very addictive, the quests and building up your character do keep you interested and going back for more and more.
So to finally sum up, if your'e a keen RPG fan, you could do much worse than give this a go, it will keep you amused for many hours no doubt.
- Highly Addictive
- Very little loading while playing
- Lots of items to play with
- Nice video feeds
- Some good voice acting
Not so good stuff
- limited camera angles
- Menus are be a bit big
- Some bad voice acting
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