Product Type: Microsoft PC games
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Wot, no dressing up as an Elven Princess?
Dungeon Siege (PC)
Member Name: Daisybelle
Dungeon Siege (PC)
Date: 08/08/02, updated on 08/08/02 (452 review reads)
Advantages: Graphics, Atmosphere
Disadvantages: Its short, Not an RPG, Linear
Where to start then? Well, straight to the point, Dungeon Siege has a black mark of sorts against it right away from the more cynical amongst us, as it was published by Microsoft. This, for those of us who've been around for a while, implies several things - It's dumbed down, crashes a lot and you pay through the nose for it. Well one of these is certainly true, but we'll get to that later. However, it's not a Microsoft product, it's the first release of GPG, Gas Powered Games.
GPG is located near Seattle (Where else?) and was founded in 1998 by designer Chris Taylor, whose list of credits include Total Annihilation if you're interested. It requires a minimum of 333Mhz processor, 128 mb RAM and an 8mb graphics card and is rated 15+ according to the box. I ran the game in its entirety at the highest resolutions on a 1333 Athlon with a 64mb Geforce2MX and 256 mb RAM and could occasionally see it start to falter, but on the whole the machine ran it very well.
So what does it consist of? The game, so it says on the box, is an RPG set in the Land of Ehb, a place of hugely diverse geography and cultures where Dwarves and Men live under the same King. You, a humble farmer, have to investigate why the Krug (Ugly Neanderthal types) have just burnt your house down, and subsequently save the world. Blahdy Blah. 'Nuff said about that, I think we'll go straight to the criticism at this point.
Is there much to criticise about DS? Well, yes, as it happens, there is. The main gripe, and I think that anyone who's a fan of the genre will agree, is it's claim to be an RPG. Pause for
those of you who aren't familiar with the term, a Role Playing Game is exactly what it says. Those of us who're a bit older than Microsoft started off playing Pen n' Paper RPGs such as Dungeons and Dragons. The idea is that you lovingly develop you're imaginary character (Who is usually a way cool version of yourself), gaining skills and wealth through cunning, bravery, murder or whatever takes your fancy. It's absorbing and demanding and the nearest anyone has come to capturing this on the PC is Black Isle with the Baldurs Gate series (I haven't played Neverwinter Nights yet, before anyone says it), anyway, this game is way off the pace, you can't even be an Elf!!
The game is 100% linear - very boring. RPGs should allow some scope to wander round aimlessly and get lost if you so choose, to get lost in DS you'd need to be horribly insane, as most of it is running along paths through ravines, paths along the sides of cliffs, and paths through simple cave systems.
The idea of Artificial Intelligence seems to have passed the creators by too, maybe it?s a post-grunge Seattle thing that Intelligence is no longer requisite. The lack of AI hardly matters as you meet very few npcs (Non-player characters - people in the game you can co-opt to join you). In the main most of the characters who can join you approach you and endearingly say something along the lines of, "I'll join your gang if you pay me Seventy Grand so I can pay for my Nan in Bermondsey to go a cruise". Scintillating, isn't it.
Other major gripes include the few towns there are to explore are tiny, the oh so few quests are of a standard that ITV Digitals Monkey could complete them and for 99.9% of the "interaction" with other characters, read killing them. There's also the not so small matter of the game only taking me 45 hours to complete, which is a bit on short side when it comes to value for money in my opinion. An
other niggle is that I first played a demo of the game from the cover of PC Format, and when I installed the complete game found I couldn't start from the end of the demo but had to go back to the beginning, very annoying when you consider the linearity issue. It does warn that this will happen in the read-me text for the demo, but who the **** ever read a read me file attached to a demo?
Lastly, and that's not because there's nothing more to complain about, rather, I'm starting to sound like a real whinger so I'll stop, the ending is crap. You kill a big monster and that's it. I killed the big monster at the first attempt too, something that should never happen in a PC RPG in my not so humble opinion. This reflects the whole game though, as it really is just too easy.
So, with all that said you might be inclined to think that the praise is going to be thin on the ground, well not quite, the game is good in many respects, especially if RPGs aren't your bag. The graphics create a sumptuous 3D world, and were probably the hook for me, the sound is pretty good too. Anyone paying attention will notice I bought this game after playing the demo. That's because I wanted to see more of it. There was a real sense of atmosphere and a cinematic feel to many of the scenes, and this compensated to a degree for the many lacking features I've mentioned. If this had been advertised as an adventure game or similar a lot of the criticisms I've made would be unfair. It wasn't though.
Another thing I liked was the way the characters improved. If you fought with a sword a lot your strength increased, if you used a bow your dexterity increased more, and if you used magic a lot your intelligence increased. Good idea, but not wholly original as Dungeon Master on the Amiga used the system. A pity they didn't expand on it here.
Other plus points for DS are that it has an on-line multiplayer option (Didn'
t try it) and a built in editor (Didn't try that either). The fact that the game only lasts 45 hours is also a plus in some ways, as 100 hours of the same thing would have been downright boring. Also, the game didn't exhibit any nasty Microsoft tendencies, as it never crashed.
Well that's it in the praise stakes. As an aside, I'm a bit annoyed with some of the magazines as they rated it so highly, PCGamer, for example, gave it 92% (They gave the awesome BG2 93%), this is a ridiculous rating and 80% would be fairer. If you're an out and out RPGer I would avoid this game, but if you just like a gore fest it could be right up your street. My copy is long gone anyway, it went straight on to ebay on completion and I got 15 quid for it.