With the recent release of Dungeon Siege III by Square Enix, I was hit with a brutal wave of nostalgia which forced me dig under my bed and blow the dust off my copy of the original Dungeon Siege.
My love for Dungeon Siege started 9 long years ago…(insert sitcom flashback effect here) The year is 2003, I’m 13 and my dad, about to head on a 2 week long business trip to America, asks if there is anything I’d like brought back as a present. I ask for a copy of Dungeon Siege before he’s even finished his sentence as I know that Dungeon Siege and its expansion pack are being released in America that week and not in the UK for a fair while yet. 2 weeks later, when my dad hands me my brand new, pristine boxed copy of Dungeon Siege, I carefully open it with bated breath and nearly died of shock. Inside are four CDs. That’s right, four CDs. Something almost unheard of back then. It was at that point that I knew that this game was going to be epic…and long.
Redhead on your box art? A brave move, even in 2002…
Boy, I was not disappointed. To this day I don’t think I’ve played a game that kept me enthralled as long as Dungeon Siege did. Even its sequel, the cleverly named “Dungeon Siege II”, failed to grab me and after about 2 hours it just made me want to reinstall and play its predecessor again.
So sure, that’s my story, but what if you haven’t played Dungeon Siege before?
Firstly, try it… seriously. Try it. Buy Dungeon Siege III off Steam and you get the first two free with it, what more could you want? I recently suggested to my house mate that I lend him my copy of Dungeon Siege and we have an epic multiplayer session, to which his answer was: “…but aren’t the graphics terrible?”. I was filled with rage. Good graphics don’t mean good games, just as bad graphics don’t mean bad games. Sure, in this day and age, Dungeon Siege may not be amazing to look at, the sound effects may be fuzzy, and trying to make it run on computer in 2012 might require a masters degree in programming. However, even with those points in mind, the gameplay is flawless. Well, for me anyway.
It takes time and effort to get it to run, but it sure is worth it…
Dungeon Siege has 4 simple classes; melee, ranged, nature magic and combat magic. Rather than your standard pick a class and stick with it system, each one levels as you use it allowing you to change halfway through the game if you get bored with stabbing your foes and feel more like blasting them with lightening. There are no talent trees, no skill points and especially no “OMG BEST HEALING SPEC EVARRR!!!”
You simply have your base attack, be it stabbing, slashing, clonking over the head or shooting and you go to town on your enemies, your damage increasing the more you level up your melee or ranged skills. Magic is slightly more advanced, with your character finding more powerful spells along the journey, while you pick 2 spells to have on quick cast, leaving the rest in your spell book if you need them later. The whole system is simple and It works.
The combat system is augmented perfectly with a ludicrous number of items for the player to find ranging from your boring garden hoe (quicker at making piles of earth than it is at making piles of bodies) to very rare armour and weapon sets, making your character glow with magical fire or freeze enemies on contact.
The garden hoe, silent but deadly.
However more often than not, your items alone will not get you through the game alive, you need your team mates (up to seven of them) each one bashing, shooting, burning or healing alongside you, taking on a myriad of enemies. The enemies fit their settings perfectly, taking on aspects of the environment around them and with Dungeon Siege’s incredible variety of environments, ranging from forests to swamps, glacial caverns and deserts. There is a surprise waiting around every corner. Nearly all these environments culminate in epic boss battles, be it tackling a giant spider in the ruins of a castle dungeon, or slaying a huge ice dragon in a crystal filled cave. The variety and size of the environments still takes my breath away, even almost 10 years after release.
Oh yeah, it’s got donkeys in it too!
Dungeon Siege is a game that also contains insane replay value, not just through replaying the original story line (maybe changing your class to keep things fresh), but also through the expansion pack released back in 2003, “Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna”. The expansion added a whole new chunk of storyline, environments, enemies, team mates, spells and much much more. This is all added once again with Dungeon Siege’s online and LAN multiplayer. Sadly, the online multiplayer used to run on Microsoft’s Zonematch software which was recently taken offline. However, I think it is a testament to an amazing game that hundreds of private servers are still up and running for fans of a truly legendary old game to play on.
So yes, while its graphics may be ‘terrible’, I stand by what I said earlier. Bad graphics don’t mean bad games. Dungeon Siege is just an enjoyable in 2012 as it was in 2003, and in my opinion there aren’t many games that can stand the test of time and come out as well as Dungeon Siege has. I love Dungeon Siege, always have, probably always will and writing this article has made me want to play it again. Better call the missus and tell her I wont be around for dinner then.