But achievement has obviously clashed with time; the studio has had not enough of the latter to fully hammer out it's ideas.
The third Dungeon Siege continues in the footsteps of its fore-bearers, revolving around the the Kingdom of Ehb. It's some thirty years and endless conspiracy theories later that new developer Obisdian ushers us back into the RPG world, and what was once was familiar is now ash.
Ehb's 10th Legion has fallen, destroyed due to its rumoured involvement in the death of its King. It's in these trampled ashes that you must reforge the once-great Legionaries to their former glory, doing so with one of four characters, each with their own perspective and ties with the Legion, and each with their own abilities, talents and playing styles.
You've the classic swordsman in the form of Lucas Montbarron, son of the former Grand Master of the Legion, who's adept with sword and shield. You've magic users with spear-wielding Anjali who can transform into a fire spirit, and Reinhart Manx, a magician who favours long-range field-effects. A strategy adopted by the troop's fourth member, the rifle-carrying Katarina. Four characters, four attack types; all RPG bases covered.
Our heroes can improve their skills through passive talents; there are ten for each character, and in addition to standard attacks, there are also three types of abilities. Two use magic points and the third, a defensive ability, action points.
Where Obsidian has worked it's magic excellently is in the story and branching narrative. While you'll be questing through the same areas no matter which character you choose, the background narrative and ending is different for each, and as RPGs go, story decision decisions weigh heavily later on. It's one of those situations that to tell is to spoil, so we'll leave it to you to find out. It does make the journey a lot more personal.
Oddly, the only weakness in the story is that it feels cut off early, like the developer had much more to tell, but development schedules and release deadlines meant loose ends had to be tided up quickly. As such the climax to the tale comes as somewhat as a surprise, and is the only duff note in an otherwise well-engineered tension curve. This doesn't mean the game is short however; optional side quests included, you're likely to be pushing past fifteen hours of entertainment here, which dwarfs many games of today.
While isomeric RPGs aren't necessarily big on graphical flourish, Dungeon Siege III pumps out some decent visuals, and some beautiful lightning effects. Neither can be appreciated fully due to the camera angle, which is a shame; its part of the course with this sub-genre, but it'd have been great to sweep in closer and lower to enjoy the view.
Dungeon Siege III's biggest problem is that it obviously can't figure out whether to lean more towards a more hack'n'slash romp or traditional RPG, and therefore probably will disappoint both camps due to the fence-sitting. Towards the end is a blood-bath of swinging swords and cast spells, and some puzzles would have been welcome to break up the action.
While decisions will weigh on the difficulty of later sections, there's still a hefty degree of linearity here that'll annoy some RPG fans, and any attempt to break from it is purely cosmetic. Such as the pay-off for your choices in the game's conversations.
The consequences (spoiler!) of these are primarily seen in the game's final sequence, with a narration explaining the course of events after the last shot; after so much brilliant build-up, it feels unsatisfactory. As a whole Dungeon Siege III offers some grand ideas, and the illusion of fantasy epic, but falls just before greatness due to its shortcomings.