Game Over Online ~ Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

GameOver Game Reviews - Dungeon Siege II: Broken World (c) 2K Games, Reviewed by - Phil Soletsky

Game & Publisher Dungeon Siege II: Broken World (c) 2K Games
System Requirements Windows XP, 1.8GHz Processor, 512MB RAM, 1.4GB HDD, ATI Radeon 7500 or Nvidia Geforce 5750+ Video Card, 4x CD-ROM
Overall Rating 70%
Date Published Monday, October 30th, 2006 at 12:26 PM

Divider Left By: Phil Soletsky Divider Right

I'm probably not the right person to be reviewing this, I think to myself as I have to spend over two hours just looking for my Dungeon Siege 2 disks so I can install the Broken World expansion pack over it. When was the last time I even looked at the disks? I can't remember. I can't even remember that much about Dungeon Siege the first, and I freaking reviewed that title. I do remember generally liking Dungeon Siege 1. I also remember that whenever a character died every single stinking item they were carrying fell on the ground so that they were resurrected naked, and if two characters died next to one another you could spend 10 minutes getting all their items sorted out. “Hello, who had the +2 cloak of indifference? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?” Still, I was very excited when DS2 came out, ran right out and bought a copy, installed it, and played it for like one hour. Maybe it struck me as very similar with just newer graphics, or maybe I was simply making room for something else I wanted to play more (or making room for a title that I was reviewing). I did have sort of a small hard drive back then. Anyway, with new games always coming out and new titles to review, I stack up far more games than I ever get a chance to really play. I guess what I'm trying to say, in my own phenomenally wordy style, is that I don't know why I didn't play DS2 much, but I didn't, and that makes me a little clueless about the expansion pack.

For example, I don't know why the World is Broken. The manual has some story about assembling the parts of a magic shield to take on some guy with a magic sword (probably the plotline of DS2, I'm guessing), and that said shield meeting said sword was akin to crossing the streams in Ghostbusters. So the World is Broken, only it doesn't look terribly broken. I don't see many cities, perhaps it is only the cities that are broken, in which case it should have been entitled Broken Cities. I can feel myself spending an inordinate amount of time harping on the title, and that never bodes well for a game review “ let me back up a little and start again.

BW requires you to begin with a high level character “ level 39 minimum. There is a tool to bring your characters over from DS2 (I think they had to have beaten that game in order to import, but I don't know for sure). I had no such characters having not played DS2, and so had to go with one of the stock level 39 characters that the game offered to me - one of each character class available. These are roughly generic characters and they come with some collection of standard factory options; armor, weapons, sun roof, CD player, skills, potions, etc. In comparison to the characters I had in DS1, which by the end of the game strongly resembled shambling medieval garage sales, these are pretty stripped characters. But you know what? Picking up even a stripped level 39 character and just playing it is hard. I'm unfamiliar with the spells in the books; I don't really know the good equipment or understand the character's skills. Perhaps if I could find my DS2 manual (fat chance, and the BW manual is a little on the thin side) it would reduce some of my confusion, but even beyond that it's also tough to feel at all a part of a character that is so advanced, despite the fact that you are given some points to spread around to try and make the character more ‘your own.' It's kind of like buying a high-level EverQuest character on Ebay “ you just don't care about them (inasmuch as you can care about a clump of pixels, but I'm sure gamers know what I mean).

Right off, in the first town I'm in, I can recruit a number of characters to join my party, so now I'm trying to run four high-level characters that I'm not all that familiar with. For the most part I control only one character, the others following behind like puppies and set to perform default actions, like attacking or casting spells. Monsters attack in clumps using swarming attacks, so the strategy is to inch down the trails and retreat frequently trying to peel off just a few monsters at a time because 12-15 monsters attacking in a clump can kill my whole party with astonishing ease. When a character dies, and trust me several will with great frequency, they can be resurrected by anyone with the appropriate spell or scroll. They come back from the dead fully clothed. When the whole party dies, and that has happened to me a few times also, everyone gets resurrected (after a peculiar go-into-the-light starfield animation) at the last teleport gate. They come back naked, but with the contents of their backpacks intact. That's a little strange. Later when that character just gets near the body of their previous incarnation, all the items are drawn back onto their bodies “ armor, rings, weapons, all of it. That's a little strange too, but it's far more convenient than playing 52-pieces-of-equipment-pickup of DS1.

For those who don't know about it, BW (and DS2) is a third person isometric RPG, heavy on the clickfest. It's boatloads like the recently reviewed Titan Quest with the exception that Titan Quest is a single character affair (except in multiplayer) whereas in DS2 you're responsible for a party of up to, I think, six characters. Titan Quest also had a brand spanking new graphics engine, whereas BW is working off an engine a little more than a year old. The old engine is no slouch “ it looks pretty good and runs well even on my older machine “ but if you just came off TQ as I did, BW looks a lot less snazzy. I suppose I should be fair and point out that DS2 came out before TQ, so really it is TQ that is a lot like DS2. The map in BW is almost completely linear, and pretty short (took me about 8 hours), and has you following some who apparently tricked you into breaking the world. It's not a whole lot of a plot and it doesn't feel like much of an adventure at all. The variety of monsters that I ran across was likewise skimpy. There are a selection of side quests that you can take to expand the storytelling a little, but my primary impression of the expansion pack is “short.”

Broken World is not a great expansion pack “ it's puny, has a thin, meaningless plot, and generally feels like it was thrown together in a great rush. It does make me want to go back and play DS2 which, at least from the summary in the BW manual, feels more extensive and complete. BW could probably, in fact, serve as a sales pitch for DS2, provided you didn't already need DS2 to play it, which you do. I know that it has made me want to go back and play DS2. For those of you who were addicted to the DS2 game mechanics, and perhaps even for those of you who liked Titan Quest, there's some, but not much, more of the same here.


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