Make a saving throw versus tradition.
Critics are always yammering on and on about how badly they want fresh, innovative
experiences. Sometimes it seems like we don’t want good games so much as different
ones. Does it introduce brand new gameplay elements? Does it expand the genre?
Does it create a new genre entirely? We want the artists who make these games
to look beyond profit margins and sales potential and let their creative juices
The refinements continue when you consider the interface. Streamlined more efficiently
than a Great White shark, Dungeon Siege takes the control out of the
inventory screen and onto the desktop. You can switch between four weapon slots
(bow, weapon and two spells) at the click of a button. You can change party
formations (again, much like Myth) by right-clicking and using the mouse
wheel to change the distance between characters. Handy health and mana potions
can be clicked to allow the whole party (or just whomever needs it – the AI
decides) to drink up. You can do all of the important tasks without having to
shuffle through screens upon screens.
Heck, they even made it easier to pick stuff up. Press a button and your characters
will zip around picking up all the treasure on screen. Not sure what’s there?
Then turn on the item labeling by clicking an icon. The cool part is that all
these buttons and tools are pushed to the borders and can be hidden/viewed easily.
The screen isn’t cluttered.
In another nod to BG, Dungeon Siege can be played cooperatively
or even competitively. The multiplayer will feature both the single-player world
set in Ehb and an alternate world called the Utraean Peninsula. And yes, you’ll
be able to take your character from the single-player to battle in multiplayer.
The beta I’ve been losing sleep over covers about 20% of the game and has
taken about 8 hours. With at least 40 hours of single player gameplay in this
puppy, it’s sure to keep you awake too late as well. Refine your tastes and
look for Dungeon Siege to hit shelves in April.