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ups: Great story, deep gameplay, plenty to do, controlling other characters
downs: Slow start, minor fighting gripes, forced first play through on easy

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Dungeon Siege II
game: Dungeon Siege II
four star
posted by: Blaine Krumpe
publisher: MS Game Studios
developer: Gas Powered Games
ESRB rating: M (Mature)
date posted: 03:27 AM Tue Aug 16th, 2005
last revision: 01:34 PM Tue Aug 16th, 2005

Click to read.In the second age of Aranna, peace has reigned for an eon, since the demise of the demonic Zaramoth at the hands of the noble chieftain Azunai. A vicious war was fought by the people and tribes of Aranna to regain the River of Souls from Zaramoth\'s grip, and have magic returned to the people. Peace is sustained until the rise of Prince Valdis, who wishes to finish what Zaramoth started. This is where the story of Dungeon Siege II begins. You will quest across Aranna, a land scarred by civil war, and through uncharted territory dripping with warriors and minions of Prince Valdis. Knowledge of Zaramoth and his destruction are all but a memory to the people of this land, it is your job to keep it that way.

Having played other RPG games, I had a good idea of what to expect with Dungeon Siege II. There\'s the usual mix of typical fantasy RPG elements. However, this game delivered on some new and promised aspects that I found to be both fun and rewarding. The ability to control up to four different characters from the start was a step in the right direction. However, you\'ll be on your third run through the game before you find yourself with more than 5 characters. Each character can specialize in a certain skill that will benefit your group as you quest your way through the game. If you use a specific character to heal the rest of your troops, make that character follow the path of the healer to benefit your crew the best. Having characters that are well rounded is not a good idea in this game, specialization is the superior method. There are a total of twelve different skills per warrior class; this gives a relatively broad range of choices when you are playing throughout the game. Having numerous pets is also to your advantage, as they eat up excess items that you do not need.

Fighting in DSII is very straight forward; you can either click and hold, or continually mash your mouse on an enemy to get the desired effect. You may also tell your supporting characters to mirror your efforts, or go on and kill everything in a rampage. There is a bit of frustration, however, if an enemy is out of your line of sight or up on a steep slope; you will be unable to use your ranged weapons on them. This becomes a little bit of a chore because of the diverse nature of the DSII environment. That\'s only a minor gripe, however, and the rest of the gameplay and story more than makes up for the frustrating moments.

DSII is dripping with story and plot. You must, and I repeat must, get past the first five or so hours, which are essentially slow and uneventful. After that the quests and missions pile on and offer the average player 50-60 hours of good gamming. The levels and missions do set you on a sort of auto pilot to the finish line, but there is a wealth of quests and side adventures that will keep players gaming even after the last enemy is slain. This game is deep, my friends, and you won\'t be disappointed in the breadth of its offerings.

The graphics in Dungeon Siege are very good, to say the least, but looks best the farther out your camera is. When you zoom in the image quality degrades fast and becomes grainy. This becomes an eyesore when you are zoomed close for a dungeon or inside a building trying to fight your way in or out. The character models feel a bit dated, along with the general layout of the items on your HUD. The spells and weapon effects are also a little old-school - not bad, but could have used a face lift. Many RPG games have used the same formula that DSII offers us, but the real meat and potatoes of this game is in the storyline and the action, not the high resolution graphical features that you will find in a game like Half Life 2.

However lacking the visuals are, the audio in Dungeon Siege is absolutely excellent! I was both moved and compelled by the orchestral music as it rallies with you in times of battle and sooths your numerous adventures through the myriad of environments of DSII. The voice-overs are plentiful and very well done. There were the occasional goofy moments when the characters felt like they were overacted, but those incidents were far and few in-between.

Fans of fantasy RPG games will no doubt find Dungeon Siege II to be an enthralling adventure that sets your character on a journey that will eat away the time like few other games can. DSII does have its flaws, but the environments, story, characters, and the overall depth of this game will hook a tremendous amount of people as they battle into the wee hours of the night crawling through the dungeons of Aranna.

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