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Strategy & War
Release Date

Dungeon Siege
September 13, 2002 | Andy Largent

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Light streams through the forest
Any time an upcoming game is touted as a "killer" of another, more popular game franchise, I tend to cringe. Countless titles hyped as "Quake-killers" have been released, only to find the bargain bin before they can make a dent in any sales records. Therefore, it's somewhat a surprise to see an upstart like Dungeon Siege become a hit in the PC world after so many comparisons to Diablo II (and yes, some even went as far as to dub it a "Diablo-killer").

Dungeon Siege is the first title from Gas Powered Games, but you likely will recognize company founder Chris Taylor from his previous hit creation, Total Annihilation. Taylor moved away from the real-time strategy genre to create an RPG in Dungeon Siege, but there are still many aspects of strategy, as well as a beautiful next-gen 3D game engine in the title. Microsoft published Dungeon Siege for the PC this spring, and Destineer Studios' Mac label, Bold, will be bringing the title to our platform early next year. Westlake Interactive is doing the actual porting work, and president Glenda Adams notes it is a very large title and is just now underway for the Mac.

Carpe Diem: Siege the Day
Dungeon Siege is shamelessly a dungeon crawler. There are many RPG aspects to the game, but it doesn't shirk away from its true calling, which is killing lots and lots of monsters. This is likely where the many Diablo comparisons come into play, but others actually consider it to be more akin to another fighting RPG, Icewind Dale. Gameplay consists mainly of killing baddies with one of your four skillsets as you adventure through the many quests. Your mouse will be thankful to hear that constant clicking isn't necessary; only one click on a monster will initiate an attack until one of you is dead.

Where Dungeon Siege begins to really break away from the standard RPG formula is how your skills are improved. Fighting and magic skills are broken down into four basic categories; melee weapons, ranged weapons, offensive and defensive magic (called Combat and Nature magic). Instead of gaining experience points, leveling up, and putting a few new points into whichever categories you want, Dungeon Siege takes an arguably more realistic approach.

Want to be the ultimate swordsman? Then you better practice with melee weapons, because only by using one of these four techniques will you improve them. A handy UI at the top of your screen shows you your four categories, and the background bar behind each icon fills up as your level in each skill.

This gets even more interesting, because how you practice your skills also affects your other attributes; strength, dexterity, and intelligence are improved. The more you use your bow, the better you become with ranged weapons, but also the better your dexterity gets. If you want to get more strength so you can wear that heavy armor, fighting with your melee weapon is the only way to do it. Using your magic skills will improve a character's intelligence.

Party Time
Your character in Dungeon Siege starts out as a lowly farmer who must fight against the evil forces ransacking the world. You are able to customize many aspects of your character upon starting, including name, gender, and even hair color and facial features. Soon enough you'll have the opportunity to add other players to your party to help beef-up your firepower. Dungeon Siege allows up to eight characters in the player's party at one time, giving you the opportunity to create a nice mix of melee attackers, ranged fighters, offensive magicians and healers.


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