PC REVIEW: DUNGEON SIEGE II

Some days I just dread going to work. I know you think I've got it made because I play videogames for a living but trust me, the novelty wears off real quick - especially when you have to play sports games. I hate sports games but I still have to review them. So it was with great appreciation when I realized I would be reviewing Dungeon Siege II. I didn't care if it sucks, it's better than playing anything with Madden in it. I think Fenix got stuck with that review. Serves the little bastard right.

Dungeon Siege II is the sequel to the original Dungeon Siege - and it doesn't suck - not that I would care if it did as long as Madden wasn't in it.

It's a classic dungeon crawling RPG with more of a focus on action. It starts out kind of slow but it picks up as you acquire more points, stats and skills. You can expect a good storyline, gameplay variety, depth and plenty of fun. There are some downsides to the game such as its linear paths and poor aiming system but if you only play through it once through you won't even be aware of most of the shortcomings because you'll attribute them to not completely leveling-up your character.

In true RPG style you will amass a party of different characters that represent different classes such as an archer, magician and melee fighter. Don't forget about those elves and hunchbacks. Throughout your quest you will do battle with various monsters that will reward you with experience points or drop various items after you slay them that you can add to your inventory. Unlike some RPGs, most notably Diablo, you don't have to pay to have your item appraised. Everything you touch will come with a name and description so that you can stuff it in a sack and get on with the game.

Points acquired can be assigned to your characters or party members. Each class has three different skills that can be upgraded. Weapons, armor and spells can be upgraded as well to give you and your party more abilities which will be needed later in the game. There are a lot of powerful mini-bosses walking around but you don't want to take these guys on until you have a great deal of skill and experience behind you.

Your party is well equipped to deal with numerous situations but they do lack finesse as they attack much too fiercely at times - like a drunken brawl between the Munchkins and the Oompa Loompas. There are situations which may require a lot less aggression, but these guys don't seem to have a simmer switch. Everything is full bore and that can cost you when you're trying to use some strategy.

The environments are 3D and you'll have to enjoy them from a distance since you don't want to zoom in too close lest you start taking hits from some unseen characters. When retaliating, you'll notice that the aiming system has a difficult time taking corners and plateaus into effect. That is, if an enemy is around a corner there is virtually no way to attack him. The same goes for if he's standing on a different level than you. Often, your attack will just travel in a straight line.

With no visible load time, (they're disguised) the game flows smoothly, allowing you to immerse yourself in the storyline. There are tons of voiceovers and for the most part the acting is great. There are some hammy moments but they can be overlooked for the information they impart. The sounds are excellent. They music and sound effects are perfectly cued and you'll be hard pressed to hear the same background music twice which makes every moment feel as though it's happening for the first time. Just don't replay the game or it's going to be Déjà vu all over again.

Although you won't get tons of replay value out of Dungeon Siege II, you will get to spend many, many hours on your first run through with virtually no filler. If you're into hacking and slashing and unlocking all kinds of great treasures then you'll want to grab a copy of Dungeon Siege II during your next videogame raid at your local gaming store.

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System: PC
Dev: Gas Powered Games
Pub: Microsoft
Release: Mar 2005
Players: 1
Review by Cole
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
4.0
GRAPHICS
4.0
CONTROL
4.5
MUSIC/FX
4.0
VALUE
2.5