Dungeon Siege II feel way back in the “to do” pile thanks to the trip to Poland and the reputation of its predecessor. Quite simply, the prospect of playing a game that supposedly played itself didn’t sound all that appealing. Worse, there was the high chance that I’d have to contradict our own, old review of the original Dungeon Siege. Supposedly, that always looks bad.
And yet here I am, well into the game and echoing Terence’s pleasant comments about the original. For starters, Dungeon Siege II is huge, massive, epic and long
. The box promises 40-60 hours of gameplay and for once, this doesn’t seem like an exaggeration. The game world is expansive though rather linear, and varied. Like Diablo II, it is divided into acts and chapters, each act bringing the player to a new venue. Also like the Diablo games, there’s a convenient town portal to help unload all that loot you or your mule have been hauling around. Mule? No, it’s not just a special character designated to carry your goods. You actually buy a mule and use him as a party member.
The Diablo similarities carry on, but we’re inclined to give Dungeon Siege II a pass on them. Though not particularly creative – it follows the formula of levels/skills/loot/killing to a tee – DS2 is very refined and brings its own spices to improve the flavor. The party is run by AI, so the player doesn’t need to play in multiplayer to benefit from multiple characters. In fact, we suspect it’s almost impossible to finish DS2 without a party.
Gas Powered Games, the developer, has coded a couple of basic behaviors for the player to choose from for the AI party members. They can be run either in mirrored mode, where they all attack the same target, usually whatever the player chooses, or rampage mode, where everyone does their own thing. Mirrored mode obviously works best against a few tough enemies, where bringing them down one at a time as fast as possible is important, while rampage is most effective against numerous weaker enemies.
Rather than force the player into a mouse-destroying left-click frenzy, Dungeon Siege II settles for simply holding down the right mouse button and running the cursor over targets. If your allies are in mirrored mode, they’ll target your victim and can usually dispense with him pretty quickly. Certain enemies run around with glowing auras and tend to be the elite of a certain unit type, and consequently more difficult to bring down. Of course, there are a number of options to keep the action varied.