Dungeon Siege III

Dungeon Siege III is the action-RPG equivalent of comfort food. It offers no big surprises or innovations, but it makes no big mistakes as it serves up a heaping plate of solid, entertaining fare. Set in the same world as the previous Dungeon Siege titles, Dungeon Siege III lets players control one of four descendents of the 10th Legion, a group of heroes largely killed by the villainess Jeyne Kassynder. Players don’t need to know anything about the series to pick up Dungeon Siege III, though; the history explains itself through scraps of lore scattered throughout the world.

The game can be played solo, with your character accompanied by a competent AI companion, but Dungeon Siege III really shines as a multiplayer experience. You can play together from the beginning, or have a second player hop in at any time. If you want to continue without your partner, the AI will take over their character. If the second player gets bored with playing a sword fighter and wants to try being a mage, they can switch characters, and the new character will automatically start at the main player’s level. Online play allows up to four players. All the gear is assigned to a specific character, so there’s never any conflict over drops.

Combat in standard mode gets the difficulty just right. The swarms of random bad guys that attack as you move through the game’s maze of corridors never provide much challenge—they largely give you the chance to show off and have fun bringing them down. Boss fights require skill and teamwork rather than simple button-mashing. Each character has two stances, each with its own abilities, and learning when to use what and how to balance offense and defense is necessary to win the tougher battles.

The game does have a few weaknesses. The side quests are well worth chasing down, but can be lethal, since there’s no way to determine whether your character and gear level are high enough for the challenge until you get into the fight and win or quickly die. For all the myriad stats that appear on gear, deciding what to equip largely means donning whatever’s most expensive. As good as the multiplayer is, it could be better integrated. If a co-op player is controlling a character you’ve unlocked as a companion, they’ll chat with you as you walk and speak up when talking to some NPCs. If not, they’re awkwardly silent. Dungeon Siege III isn’t extraordinary, but is it a highly satisfying way to spend time gaming with a friend or three.

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