Dungeon Siege II - game review

Date: 2005-09-30 09:20:00
The review was based on the PC version.

To this day, the greatest heads cannot figure out "what is it about these hack'n slashes that attract crowds?" I'll tell them ...

Dungeon Siege II ? It is boring, short and simple "- how much truth is there in my friend's statement? It's a bit like legends: a grain of truth, and the rest was thrown in by people. By installing Dungeon Siege II, I had no doubt that I would have a lot of fun - and some work. A bit of history in a condensed edition: there was Diablo in the beginning. And then Diablo II . And they both pulled like a swamp on level 99. Then came Dungeon Siege . And he showed that the 99th level doesn't have to be the limit. Dungeon Siege outperformed Diablo II in terms of graphics and was equally playable (which - with other Diablo clones - was rare). Some time ago, Sacred appeared on the market, which again breathed a little life into the hearts of bloodthirsty virtual monsters, of course - Diablo and DS freaks. The first mentions of Dungeon Siege II appeared in 2003, before the premiere of Sacred . A revolution was announced from the very beginning, especially in terms of graphics. We also heard, among others with an extensive plot and dialogues. How many of these promises were fulfilled?

Extensive storyline. You start out as an ordinary mercenary, a servant of the mighty Valdis. You and your friend Drevin arrive at Greilyn Island (mention the original introductory video here) as part of the support for the army. First fight, first death ... First riddles. Zaramoth's Sword and Azunai's Shield. Mysterious, powerful artifacts. Herald of the End of the Second Age. The blood flowing in the hero's veins. It all has to do with some Azunites, Valdis, and even - as it turns out later - all your companions and the mysterious medallion. I won't say more. It cannot be denied that the plot is more elaborate ... But in the way we would like it to be?

Let me put it this way: if you hate the heroism and topos of a man who suddenly discovers that he is not destined for an ordinary family home and cultivating the field, the plot is unlikely to suit you. Here is - it would seem - an ordinary pawn on the chessboard of fate, which, unaware of its future, fights on the side of the evil one, experiences the death of a loved one, changes, various things begin to happen around him, finds objects hidden deep underground for thousands of years. .. And I almost summarized the whole story in one sentence. Sounds familiar? Exactly. As I said, the plot is more extensive than in the first part. However, if you expect a level story, you may be disappointed. I was disappointed. And I didn't really like the ending. It should be noted that when skipping side quests, parts of the plot are also omitted. Little important, but always missing pieces of the puzzle. This is one of the reasons why I did not ignore them.

When discussing the plot, it is also impossible to mention the dialogues. If I could tell the game developers something about it, I would say that if they announce extensive dialogues, they should ... expand them. The dialogue options to choose from are like medicine! We have practically no choice when it comes to talking, usually there is only one option and or there is some heroic utterance of our hero written on it (the dialogues are full of heroism and artificiality - seriously, our hero is so pure that he is ... too pure?) , or how extensive dialogue option [more]. Some will probably say "what did he expect? It's not a purebred RPG! ” Yeah. But when something is announced loudly, it should rather be implemented. The biggest advantage of the dialogues is that they were all recorded and set, although if I were to judge the acting skills of the voices, it would not be a very flattering assessment. In Poland, the game is released in the cinema version (in my opinion it is the best solution possible), so you will be able to see it for yourself.

The interface in Dungeon Siege II can be summed up very briefly: the same, but better. What we see in the windows consists of the best interface elements of the first Dungeon Siege game (and there were undoubtedly a lot of them) and a lot of improvements. First of all, the windows now look nicer, more atmospheric and aesthetic. The novelty that caught my eye the most is the completely rebuilt diary. While in the first part it was almost useless, here we have practically everything. This is one of the most complete logs I've ever seen in a cRPG game. Each task - key (27 in total) or side quest (51 in total) is divided into stages, and each stage has its own detailed description. In addition, the journal contains a map of the world, a huge bestiary, a slightly less huge list of quest items, chants (about them in a moment), books and smaller maps. In short, everything that can be put in the journal. This is a real compendium of knowledge about the progress in the game. However, I was disappointed on the main menu. While in the previous part it was beautifully produced, in the DS2 it is not very pretty and is limited to a resolution of 800x600.

A new character development system has been merrily announced. It builds on the assumptions of the old one and adds a lot of new elements - some of them make Dungeon Siege II look like the good Diablo II. We still have the basic four specializations: close combat, ranged combat and nature magic and battle magic. The level of each specialization increases with the actual use of it, so, just like in the first part, you can easily create a warrior who can also heal his companions. The biggest innovation is the introduction of the correct character level as well as skill and power. The correct character level is needed to enter skill points (one point / level, sometimes you get extra points for completing a task).

These are the skills that most closely resemble Diablo : we have four skill trees, one for each specialization; the maximum level for a given skill is twenty; most of the skills can be achieved only after investing at least one point in the previous, basic skill, and some of them also require an appropriate level of specialization development. It sounds complicated, but in practice the skill tree window is very intuitive and transparent. Interestingly, all skills, despite their name, are passive - they increase the coefficients, allow you to use new types of weapons. They cannot be used. They are used all the time.

You can use the abovementioned powers. They can only be used from time to time (they regenerate during combat), and you can get them by reaching a specific level in specific skills. There are seven different powers available for each specialization. They are often the key to victory - or at least to a faster victory :). One character can only activate one skill at a time. What do powers give? For example, the "Blast" power, which is available after developing the appropriate skills in the ranged combat specialization, gives a bonus to speed and damage dealt with throwable weapons for several seconds. An interesting addition that will diversify the fight. A plus.

The essence of the game is combat. You will spend 90 percent of your time fighting against hordes of enemies. Instead of several types of combat formations and behavior, Dungeon Siege II has two basic options that define these factors. The first is the mimic mode - all characters in your party follow the movements of the character you control. It comes down to attacking the same opponent and moving in one group. By activating the second mode - free combat - you leave the artificial intelligence free. Team members attack whatever they can. It is a better solution when you have a dozen or so weak opponents with you. There are also a few minor, but sometimes useful commands that can be assigned to the appropriate keys. Combat is experience and loot that can be sold to better prepare for the next fight. There is too much loot in the game. I finished the game with over a million gold in my account. You can find items of all possible types and types (the inventory screen, not counting the cosmetic changes, looks practically the same as in the first part of the game): from completely non-magical, through slightly "enchanted", rare (many magical improvements), to unique ( own name; powerful weapons) and "sets" (I got used to the term). These are set items, completing several of the same set gives additional bonuses.

Two interesting novelties in DS2 are worth mentioning: chants (hmm) and weapon enchantment. The chants, which I have always subconsciously associated with the words of power, are something like formulas that - when spoken in the right place, i.e. in a chapel - give specific effects. There are over 70 chants in the game and none of them is available from the beginning - you have to find them yourself. In turn, enchanting weapons is about giving them magical attributes. The problem, however, is that you need to find a weapon suitable for enchantment and the right ingredients that will give it specific attributes.

Team. You can have up to six characters in it. This statement only applies to the highest level of difficulty; on the lower ones that you have to go through to reach him, you can have 4 and 5 characters respectively. This is not a very large number, considering that one playthrough of the game takes a lot of time (especially with completing all side quests), but the role of individual characters in the team certainly increases significantly. However, when it comes to the artificial intelligence of the team - it's not very good. Characters are good at auto-casting spells at the right times (there's a special part of the spell book for that), but ... first example. There is an obstacle between the archer and the monster, say, a tree. After clicking on the enemy, the archer will shoot an arrow that will stop on the tree. This can be repeated x times without the archer correcting his position. You have to do it yourself. Unfortunately, the characters cannot cope with these simple situations.

... unlike the enemies. You can see the progress here. They can attack so that it hurts. Much of it also has instructions on who to attack, depending on some basic steps the player takes. For example, Taclaki get frustrated when someone picks up a treasure in their presence. This provokes them to attack one specific member of the team. Other opponents may be sensitive to healing spells or drinking potions. Once you piss off such an enemy, it will stick to one character for several seconds. Of course, this can be used for their own purposes - fighters can acquire the power of provocation, which works on the same principles. And it is known that a random fighter, even when attacked by several opponents, is able to stand on his feet much longer than a mage. When a character's health indicator drops to zero, they fall to the ground and are unconscious. When she takes twice as much damage, she definitely dies (definitely, i.e. she can only be saved in one way - by resurrection). However, this does not happen very often. In Dungeon Siege II, the difficulty level is suspiciously low and, what's worse, it hardly increases with the progress of the game. Every now and then we come across bosses, but only some of them are able to break more nerves (I defeated the last of the last opponents ... with one archer). It's a pity, because not everyone wants to play the game once or twice and it gets harder.

The system of difficulty levels and task distribution is another element associated with Diablo . Three difficulty levels, each of which (except the first one, of course) unlocks after passing the previous one; three large nudes (each of them has two different scenes); acts divided into several (from 8 to 10) chapters-tasks. One act with all possible side tasks is a dozen or so hours of playtime, and it happens that before you complete a given task, you will have to move on to the next act and then return later. Exactly: there are many places on the maps that are not unlocked at first, you cannot reach them. Looking at the author of the guide, I can say that this is a minus, but on the other hand, when I look at it as a player - definitely a plus. Speaking of maps: they have their good and bad sides. The grounds are quite extensive but very limited. By a strange coincidence, all the places our heroes have to traverse are usually limited by some steep-slope-on-which-definitely-cannot-go-down, water or mountain. The creators took the easy steps here, they could extend it to a more natural size. The lack of welds is a big plus. You will only see a racial loading screen when you start the game. Even if there is in-game reading (on death or when moving between teleportation points), you don't see it anyway - instead of the progress bar, we only see an animation that maintains the credibility of what is happening (as long as there is any credibility with using the teleport :).

If you are looking for a real feast for the eyes, you may be a bit disappointed. The graphics in Dungeon Siege II are nice, but the toto breakthrough is not. The close-ups clearly show where the textures join. Lighting effects and effects after using powers look good (especially for mages). The climate is additionally strengthened by the good, although - in my opinion - a bit too little noticeable music by Jeremy Soule.

Character models that look different for different types of equipment look great. Applause for invention is also due to the whole range of monsters, of which - whether they like it or not - hundreds, and probably even thousands, will die during our crusade. Most monsters come in two variants: basic and power-up. The opponent in the latter variant is of course much stronger and carries much more loot. When discussing the graphic design, two more things should be noted: 1) during the game we travel through all possible types of landscapes and they all look good; 2) the game inherited a good optimization from its first part: with the right settings it runs smoothly even on * medium * class hardware (for example mine :). However, there are exceptions ...

Now a few words about the Polish version. As I have already mentioned, the distributor of the game in our country, i.e. the CD Projekt company, prepared a cinematic crack for the game (Polish text + original recordings). Everything would be fine if it weren't for ... heh. I can understand typos - these are minor mistakes; I will abolish translations that - in my opinion - fit the English version of the game on average (chants, scumblers, sands and the dining hall); Finally, I can turn a blind eye to the factual errors that were also found here and there (Captain Suzor became Suzor) ... Not to mention the font, which was prettier in the original (I know, I understand, tails). I will not understand and I will not forgive one thing: why the game in the Polish version is about a dozen frames per second slower ?! Hm. Players talk about a greater or lesser - but always - decrease in liquidity (it should be noted that some units do not have problems, but I do not count among them). The drop was most visible when the signatures of objects lying on the ground were turned on, so in my eye it may be related to the font and tails. As of today (September 27), a slowdown factor is being sought, and CD Projekt reassures players that it is doing everything it can to fix any issues as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, it is a serious setback at the start of the game. A month delay in relation to the world premiere, quite a large advertising campaign - and what? A big minus for the distributor, the greater that the suggested retail price (PLN 129.90) is not among the lowest. Hopefully a patch for these issues will be released as soon as possible.

To this day, I remember fondly the hours spent with my buddies playing online in the first part of Dungeon Siege . If I had played the second part, the memories would be just as good - in my opinion, it is in this type of competition that DS can spread its wings. Playing on the Internet (GameSpy support implemented) is also interesting, but it's not the same as hiking with friends in a ... nice atmosphere :). Besides, there aren't many people on the official game servers.

Time for a summary. The answer to the question "what attracts people to hack'n'slashes" is short: simplicity. If it goes hand in hand with good performance, the game can be drawn in for a long time. It is no different with Dungeon Siege II - I mentioned the advantages and the production disadvantages. No matter how much of either, the playability of this game cannot be denied. You will say: the game gets boring quickly. I replied: after some time every game gets bored (... except KotOR - cheers to Pvt. Creak :). This "some time" is influenced by both the character of the player and the game itself. And believe me: if you get bored with Dungeon Siege II quickly, it will be mainly due to your preferences. Chris Taylor did not fulfill all his promises as, for example, I would like him to, but it does not change the fact that the game can be screen-chained and you can spend a good few hours with it - especially playing with friends. And that's it, period.

Kamil "Draxer" Szarek