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Posted on Feb 26, 2007 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Dungeon Siege 2: Deluxe Edition – Game Review (PC)

By Ryan Stepalavich

Passed Inspection: Solid action-RPG. Plenty of content to mull through. Entertaining combat animations and graphics.

Failed Basic: More of the same. Doesn’t venture at all to revolutionize or even mildly improve the genre. If a gamer has played action-RPGs before, he or she has pretty much played this.

The Action-RPG genre isn’t exactly a new facet in gaming. Ever since Diablo, developers have tried to one-up on each other for the best of the best. Neverwinter Nights had its Dungeons and Dragons rule set. Sacrifice had its item-based skill development structure. The list goes on and on.

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Then we come to the Dungeon Siege franchise. Developed by Chris Taylor’s Gas Powered Games (of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander fame), Dungeon Siege 2 has been heralded time and again as the definitive Diablo killer. Certainly, it has its points of excitement and thrill, but does it really have the holding power that many "hack ‘n’ slash" games have produced before?

Dungeon Siege 2: Deluxe Edition contains both Dungeon Siege 2, and its expansion pack Broken World. That, in and of itself, indicates a great deal of content, and certainly, that’s what’s packaged here. The player starts off his or her adventure as a mercenary for the armies of Valdis, a not-so-nice King who wields the power of the Sword of Zaramoth, a very "one-ring"-esque item of power and evil. As the gamer progress, as all RPGs do, he gains skills, strengths, and spells in an effort to understand more about this Valdis and why he has to be so darn mean.

If this sounds very old hat, it’s because it is. Though a nod must be given toward the "skills development" system, where using a specific weapon or talent will level only that talent, the rest of the combat and progression is fairly cut and dry when compared with other titles. Find a monster, slay it, loot its corpse for goods, and move on. Even the quest system seems very tired and worn out. Quests are primarily of the "Assassinate this man" or "Fetch me this amulet" flavor, with very little variation in between.

The combat system does have a few notches on its belt that are worth noting. First is the "overkill" system. There are a set of skills, "rage" for example, that allow the character to deal an extremely powerful blow to the enemy, causing him to completely explode. It’s satisfying, to say the least, but the charge time for such a skill is appropriately slow, so the player can’t simply melee his or her way through hordes of enemies in hopes that the one skill can get them through.

Secondly is the party system for revival. Everyone knows how infuriating it can be in a rousing match of Diablo II, when their main character dies yet his or her mercenaries still hover over the corpse. Dungeon Siege 2 fixes that annoyance by simply switching to a particular mercenary who is still standing, allowing the opportunity to revive the fallen main character. This keeps a sense of consistency and cohesion in the game, as it would only make sense for a hired hand to try and sustain the source of their funding.

Third is the ability to coordinate attacks based on the situation. A few simple hotkey keystrokes will instruct the party to focus fire on a particular enemy, use ranged attacks or simply go berserk at a large group of enemies. This system adds a small amount of strategy to the mix, forcing the player to switch up spells, items and tactics to adapt to the situation at large.

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