Everything you need to know about co-op action RPG Dungeon Siege III is contained in the animation that plays when you open a chest. The lid flips open and a spray of gold and magic weapons is shot nine feet into the air like some heavy-duty party popper, before coming crashing down at your feet.
It's ridiculous. Even the most out-there of Hollywood's fantasy heroes would raise a chiseled eyebrow at chests being so excited to see them that they squirt their contents across the room. Yet this animation is also lovingly crafted and completely hypnotising, just like the rest of Dungeon Siege III.
The game tells the story of the 10th Legion, the legendarily skilled army that marched East in order to found the game's fantasy kingdom of Ehb, but in the centuries of prosperity that followed they lost their holdings and most of their number. But when somebody puts a bounty out on surviving 10th Legion descendants (which includes you), your ancient fighting force is roused from its slumber like a sleeping bear prodded with a sharp stick. Your objectives, then, are three-fold: (1) Restore the Legion to fighting strength, (2) Find out who put the bounty on you, and (3) Poke them with an even sharper stick.
Ehb and Flow
The plot, however, is only as important as you want it to be. Between the world assuming the shape of a series of long and very pretty corridors, and the game's breadcrumb help system that tells you in exactly which direction you should be fighting, you could easily complete Dungeon Siege III in a demented haze without listening to a word that anyone has to say. You'd be missing out on a variety of entertainingly difficulty decisions (kill the prisoner or free her? Negotiate with the local savages or attack quickly?), but it's the combat on offer that represents the greatest of the game's achievements - and will be more than enough to keep anybody playing.
Just like the chests, combat is hypnotising and lovingly crafted. The visual effects of your chosen character's many abilities all flash and crackle excellently. Defeated enemies all crumple to the ground in a comedy fashion, the environments and enemies change quickly enough that you're always gawping at something new, and the fights have a strange way of absorbing however much attention you feel like giving them.
This is what makes DS III a fantastic co-operative game. With the exception of the occasional boss fight, you can be idly chatting to whoever might be sat next to you while playing the game as a button-masher, and you'll still probably come limping through the battles in one piece.
But equally, if you're playing the game alone or you and your friend want to go ripping through the enemy like a pair of sawblades, using all of your character's abilities in precisely the right situation while remembering to dodge and block transforms the game into a nightmare that'll keep you on your toes.
Shirt off your back
The only problem with the game occurs when you try to put all of that hard-earned loot to good use. It's not that the equipment screen is that much of a pain to navigate around, it's just that you won't really care. Stopping periodically to check and see whether you've found any trousers that are better than your current trousers is tedious when it should be thrilling. You'll feel like a model stalking down a catwalk, only to have to get changed into a slightly different scrap of fabric in an undignified fashion. It's all the sadder because loot is something the first two Dungeon Siege games knocked out of the park.
But never mind that. This is a great little action game whether played alone (and with an AI partner), or with a friend or three, and it has chests so eager to please that they shoot loot nine feet into the air. Sometimes, that's more than enough.
- Dazzling, fast-paced combat.
- Consistent variety.
- Simple, solid story.
- Dull equipment management.
- No sense of danger.
- Too few boss fights.