Sunday, November 10, 2013

Kate Reviews: Dungeon Siege III

Four heroes with stories of their own.  What will yours be?

Release Date: 6-21-2011
Developer: Obsidian Entertainment
Publisher: Square Enix
Genre: RPG
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Blood, Violence, Mild Language, Mild Suggestive Themes)
Platform: PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Reviewed On: Xbox 360
Original Sale Price: $59.99
Reviewer Purchase Price:$11.68@Amazon 

Back-of-the-Box Info
  • Players 1-2
  • Co-Op 2
  • 2 MB to save game
  • In-game Dolby Digital
  • HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p
  • Online multiplayer 1-4
  • Co-op 2-4
  • Voice
Game website: 
DLC available at the time this blog is written:
  1. Treasures of the Sun (avail 10-25-2011) $9.99

Now, I realize this game was released a long time ago and I am just now playing/reviewing it, but a good game is a good game, right? I got a sweet deal on it and I was a fan of the first in the series on PC in 2002, so I figured it was worth a try.

Starting point in Dungeon Siege III
Starting point in Diablo III
The moment I took control of the character I had chosen and headed up the pathway toward a dilapidated mansion gate, I got the distinct impression that this was a very Diablo-esque game.  Boy, was I right.  From the top-down perspective to the lighting in the dark environment to the join-in-progress cooperative gameplay, this game kept reminding me of Diablo at every turn; not that that's a bad thing.  Even my husband who has only watched me play Diablo III a few times and played the original one himself many years ago, asked if I was playing D3.  It was, in many ways, a departure from the gameplay of the original Dungeon Siege, but not to its detriment.  It kept enough to be discernibly Dungeon Siege but changed up some of the more grueling aspects of the original.  The pack mule and the difficult inventory limits are gone and there was even a comical nod to the beloved mule from the previous games.

"The pitiful corpse of a mule has been left at the roadside.  Other travelers have wandered off with the many suits of armor, sacks of gold, and impractically large battleaxes that collectively crushed the poor beast."

There are four playable characters from which to choose to start the game.  They fall into the typical archetypes:

sword & shield master
elemental magic / melee shape-shifter

magic user
long-range huntswoman

This game has some great RPG elements. 
Skills can be upgraded with an easy-to-learn system.  Better weapons, armor, and items are plentiful and are acquired though looting dead enemies, treasure chests, and from item shop vendors.  Each character follows the same overall tale, but the story is personalized to tell how the events have and will affect that character.  Dialog options will appear and will often affect another character's feelings and reactions towards you.  Your choices can also affect events in the game.  Even if you choose a callus or hard-hearted response it never feels like you made the wrong choice.  It feels just as organic to the character and story as if you were to choose a neutral or more positive selection.  I thought the story was pretty well thought out and it was entertaining and had the right level of drama and tension.  I particularly enjoyed the way in which much of the main story was told: with charcoal-type drawings and by a wonderful storyteller.  It was somewhat reminiscent of the storytelling in the Fable series. 

An interesting feature that I haven't been able to delve much into because of the age of the game is the co-op feature.   I did get into a few other players' games and it was pretty fun, however the camera angle becomes locked making it difficult to see exactly where you need to go or treasure chests that might be hiding just out of sight.  It was thoughtful design to make it so that if your partner got too far away or behind, they would be transported to your location.  Co-op was drop in-drop out which was pretty helpful.  Overall I like it, but it was a bit frustrating trying to find a co-op partner.  Local co-op was fun as well. 

  • Almost no loading
  • Nice visual effects
  • Decision-based story lines
  • Fantastic storyteller
  • Superb audio
  • No inventory shuffling
  • Plenty of replay value
  • No wrong choices
  • LOOT!
  • Square-Enix registration doesn't work (at the time of this review)
  • I didn't buy this sooner when more people were online to play Co-op with

The Wrap Up

This game was worth every penny of the almost $12 I paid for it and then some.  One of my biggest complaints is not really being able to play co-op which held the promise of fun adventures.  I absolutely recommend this game to RPG fans and gamers who just like a good story.  With 3 difficulty levels, this is a challenging adventure for most everyone.  Oh, and I definitely recommend playing it with your headphones on.  Even the main menu screen sounds amazing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Kate Reviews: CastleStorm 

Knights Vs. Vikings


Release Date:  5/29/2013
Developer:  ZEN Studios Ltd.
Publisher:  Microsoft Studios
Genre:  Action & Adventure, Strategy, Simulation
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (blood, violence)
Platform: Xbox Live Arcade, PS3, PC, Vita, WinPhone, iPhone, Wii U
Reviewed on: XBLA
Original Sale Price: $9.99
Reviewer purchase price: $4.99

  • Offline Players 1-2
  • Offline Co-op
  • Stereoscopic 3D
Online Features
  • Online Multiplayer 1-2
  •  Online Co-op 2
  • DLC
  • Leaderboards
  • Voice Chat

I wasn't sure what I was getting when I downloaded CastleStorm on XBL.  It was on sale for half off of the regular price of $9.99 and seemed different from everything else in my collection.  Here's how the XBL description sold it:
It’s Knights vs. Vikings in CastleStorm, where medieval warfare meets 2D physics-based destruction! Controlling the battle in real time, players will harness the power of medieval artillery, manage a fearsome ground attack, and cast powerful spells! CastleStorm features a story-driven solo campaign, a custom castle editor, online multiplayer, co-op modes, and more. Building castles and knocking them down has never been so much fun!
Really all I read was medieval, destruction, and castle editor.  I was sold already; the rest was filler.  The description and the sale price were intriguing enough for a purchase.  As soon as the game loads it asks if I want to enable Stereoscopic 3D.  Hells YES!  I wasn't even aware it was 3D-enabled so this was a cool bonus as I don't have many good 3D games.  A first-world problem, amiright?
medieval destruction of a castle in CastleStorm on Xbox Live Arcade, XBLA

It starts slow since there are varied methods of play to learn and accompanying controls to master. 
Control a Ballista and use different types of upgradeable ammunition to knock down the opposition's castle.  It's physics based so if you are unfamiliar with the play-type, think Angry Birds and Wreckateer. The aiming is a bit hard to master, but crushing the Vikings' castle is so satisfying.

Control Ground Troops like swordsmen, paladins, archers, dragons, and priests.  That mechanic is a bit like a tower defense game where picking the correct types and leveling them can affect the results on the battlefield.  They aren't controlled directly; they are purchased using a renewing pool of resources and are set out at the foot of the castle where they traverse the path between the two castles and fight any enemy in their way.

Magic spells and the summoning of a hero (who looks strangely a bit like my brother) can be chosen to aid in battle.  Controlling the hero is quite a bit of hack-and-slack fun as he, like the magic spells, can be leveled up to do a great deal of damage.

These elements are interchangeable at any time and can be selected to carry out the strategy desired.

  • So freaking funny
  • Different ways to play the game
  • Some of the best 3D I've seen yet
  • Customizable castle, troops, spells, and ammo to perfect a strategy
  • Accurately aiming the ballista is more tedious than it should be

The Wrap Up

This game has a lot of corny humor that completely delighted me and was reminiscent of the Deathspank series which are some of my favorite XBLA games.  It jokingly referenced other games like Angry Birds and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim.  I really enjoyed playing this in 3D and it looked spectacular.  I'm having fun playing this game and am really glad I got it.
Interested? Check it out and buy it on XBL HERE.