Dungeon Siege

The award-winning Dungeon Siege role-playing game (RPG) has made it to the Mac – and it's worth the wait. Fans of the genre get a huge, sprawling, beautifully rendered experience that should take over 50 hours to get through – even on the easy setting. You play the part of a simple farmer who heads off to face destiny following the death of a good friend. Set in the culturally diverse kingdom of Ehb, the adventurer begins with nothing, conquering foes and succeeding in a selection of quests that take the hero inexorably from the country's rich farmlands to a future of sorcery and steel. Players can expect a furious campaign of excitement as they face strange foes and gather the spoils of battle. Tribes call quests
Dungeon Siege is most similar to Diablo, Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale. Players gather a party of up to eight individuals to explore villages, swamps, deserts, forests and dungeons. As they progress, players pick quests to help add more meaning to the campaign. The action is constant, and the user-interface simple, making the action easier to appreciate. Sound effects are excellent in the main, though some of the NPC speaking voices threatened credibility. Why do dwarves in these games always carry quasi-Scottish accents? Game-play is seamless. There's no waiting between areas for data to load, no hugely complex array of controls to master, and the camera angle can be adjusted to close-up on interesting action, or distant zoom when moving around. Players can move their party using the main map, as well. The camera angle and direction can be adjusted when the game's paused, and gamers can enjoy impressive views across the valleys from the higher cliffs, or down into yawning underground chasms. All characters, both player and NPC, begin with a series of attributes and abilities. They can all cast spells, use weapons, and gather experience in these skills as they use them. This logical progression means gamers can focus on particular skills – melee or missile fighters, nature or combat mages, or develop a mixture of disciplines for the good of the party. Male and female characters are equally strong and capable; no built-in glass ceiling exists here. Enemies become stronger, most especially so in the ice-cavern areas and beyond – when you get there, be warned. As they do so, the rewards grow higher. Successful players will be spoilt for choice with a plethora of magical and mundane items to help them in their quests. The one single feature I didn't like is the way characters carry and equip magic items. There's no elegant way to see all the items possessed by a party. You have to move between characters, which makes it a feat of memory (and an interruption in the action) to ensure all the characters are as well-equipped as they can be. Despite this, the game is a delight to play, consuming endless hours of life energy as I faced the Ancient Evil that threatens to destabilize the kingdom. The game is fairly stable, but crashed a couple of times. I learnt to save the game frequently and to quit the game every couple of hours. My personal experience (on an 800MHz G4 iMac with 256MB of RAM) was that after a few hours it became 'choppy'. Save, quit and boot-up Dungeon Siege again to bring back the title's smooth gameplay.


I'm not a fast-paced shoot 'em-up gamer. I prefer strategy (Civilization) and good versus evil RPG/strategy titles (Myth, Baldur's Gate). Dungeon Siege is great to play. I spent hours immersed in it to get to know it, and despite some small reservations I still think that was a better choice than enduring the first painful weeks of Big Brother. If you like fast-paced action with a compelling story line and an attractive selection of Wizard's pointy-hats (in a non-Harry Potter style), get this game. Min specs: 450MHz or faster G3; 256MB RAM; 16MB video card; Mac OS X.

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