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Retro Game Review: Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna

Posted on 3/10/2014 by with 0 comments

Retro Game Review: Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna
Developer: Gas Powered Games
Publisher: Microsoft Game Studios
Release Date: April 5, 2002

Dungeon Siege

Dungeon Siege

Overview:
Dungeon Siege is an RPG developed by Gas Powered Games (also the developers of Supreme Commander) and published by Microsoft Game Studios.  You play as a farmer who is forced to take up arms when one day, he finds his home beset by evil monsters.  A dying friend’s request for you to travel to the nearby town of Stonebridge to help them fend off attackers starts off an epic quest to vanquish a great evil.

Gameplay:
For the most part, Dungeon Siege (DS) plays like other RPGs.  In DS however, you don’t choose a class to play, you choose a class to become — by using melee weapons, you level and improve your melee skill, by using different kinds of magic, you level and improve your ability in each magic school.  The game’s three attributes, Strength, Dexterity and Intelligence are also leveled through the use of appropriate weapons or magic.

While this variant of class selection and leveling up makes sense– swinging weapons makes you better at using them (same goes for magic), the grind to get those skills leveled can be extremely tedious. Experience in the different combat skills is increased every time you use them, not through damage dealt, so if you are too good at killing enemies, skill growth slows down tremendously.  This is extremely frustrating on the higher difficulty modes where you have to kill the enemies fast since they do so much damage, and miss out on leveling up your skills.

DS also has an eight-member party cap which can get a bit cumbersome.  While you have options to adjust each characters AI, you often have to give manual orders to each member of the party.  The pause function is useful, but having to pause a battle every couple seconds to give orders can get annoying quickly.

All in all, the gameplay is still pretty satisfying, especially if you’re already a fan of the genre.  The hack and slash combat with all manner of evil creatures will keep you entertained for hours.  The world is also very well crafted, and the placement of ancient ruins, countryside farms, animal caves and whatnot is so natural that you’ll feel a very part of the world of Ehb (kudos to the level designers!).  After a certain point, you get access to a world map which allows you to travel all around Ehb, exploring every nook and cranny to uncover more of the world’s history and acquire powerful artifacts and randomly generated magic items and lore / loot junkie or not, you will enjoy all the items and lore that DS has to offer.

A dwarf, some humans and two pack mules stand over the bodies of freshly vanquished Krug.

A dwarf, some humans and two pack mules stand over the bodies of freshly vanquished Krug.

Graphics:
For 2002, the graphics were pretty top notch.  As I mentioned above, the level design made the world feel very organic, and I would like to commend how the graphics complement the level design.  Just to give an example, my party was adventuring in the forest on their way to Stonebridge (the first major town you get to), where I can across a set of ruins.  The scene was gorgeous, with old, run down walls covered in overgrown grass hinting at the semblance of a building that stood there in ages past.  In the center of it all was an ancient statue, physically broken yet standing proud in defiance of time’s attempts to wear it down.  Sure, the statue was angular and blocky in some places and the plant-life was a bit pixellated, but even with turn of the millenium graphics it looked fantastic.

Sound:
While DS’s sound effects are standard fare, DS’s musical score is amazing, as you will notice soon after the game starts.  At the beginning of, the epicness of the track really gets you pumped to start your journey as the Farmer.  Later on, as you start exploring the wilderness, including caves full of spiders and ancient tombs, the music takes a more terrifying tone, a perfect accompaniment to the sinister monsters that are ready to jump at you at every corner.

Verdict:

I would put DS up there as one of the forerunners of the 3D RPG family.  A little like Diablo with its loot system but with an emphasis on party based combat , Dungeon Siege is definitely worth your time.  A good 4 out of 6 cans for you Dungeon Siege!

4cans

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