E3 2001 Hands-onDungeon Siege

We get a chance to test drive Chris Taylor's hack-and-slash RPG early.

First revealed at E3 exactly one year ago, Dungeon Siege has steadily progressed toward its intended release date this fall. Already, the action-packed fully 3D role-playing game is looking polished and fun to play. The version shown at E3 this year has all the environments and characters from the game built into it and ready to go--all the better to show off Dungeon Siege's many impressive features.

Dungeon Siege is being designed by Chris Taylor and his fledgling studio, Gas Powered Games--but even though Gas Powered Games is new, Chris Taylor is no stranger to game design. His 1997 real-time strategy game, Total Annihilation, received tremendous praise from critics and game players all around the world. Total Annihilation actually received GameSpot's Game of the Year award for that year and plenty of other commendations since, including mention in GameSpot's recent 270949910 Best Multiplayer Games of All Time feature story. But what can a game about battling robots have in common with a fantasy-themed hack-and-slash role-playing game? Apparently, more than meets the eye: Dungeon Siege will have a lot of Total Annihilation's best features, and in working on it, Chris Taylor is also incorporating some of the valuable lessons he learned from designing the previous game. Essentially, like Total Annihilation, Dungeon Siege is being designed in such a way that you're free to experiment and play however you choose to. This is easier said than done, but clearly, the gameplay of Dungeon Siege is already shaping up to be robust and complex enough to be interesting, yet still easy and intuitive to get into.

For example, Dungeon Siege will let you easily customize the behavior of your party members. You can have up to eight characters in your party, and you can set any of these to have particular types of aggressive or defensive behavior for when they engage in battle. You can even have one of your characters scavenge the battlefield, automatically picking up loot from fallen foes. Dungeon Siege will also support unit formations, waypoints, and other such features found in advanced real-time strategy games. But the best part is that such features aren't essential to the game--they're available if you want to use them, but you'll just as easily be able to enjoy the game without them.

You won't notice some of Dungeon Siege's features right away--you'll be too busy staring at the game's impressive graphics and listening to its incredible soundtrack. Its musical score was composed by Jeremy Soule, the same musician who scored the symphonic music in Total Annihilation and last year's role-playing game Icewind Dale (as well as last year's action game Giants: Citizen Kabuto). Every distinct area and situation in Dungeon Siege had its own piece of orchestral music especially composed for it. The 3D graphics engine will do justice to this sweeping score: The highly realistic scenarios can be viewed from virtually any angle (though the default isometric perspective is ideal), and the animated scenery and characters are both very lifelike. Best of all, after the game first boots up, it will feature no loading times whatsoever--you'll seamlessly traverse all kinds of different terrain, and the game will never take you out of the experience.

Dungeon Siege will have a scripted single-player mode and a much more open-ended multiplayer mode. It'll have more than 100 monsters and more than 100 spells that you can use. It'll have dozens of different areas to explore and tons of great weapons and items to find. As noted, most of these features are essentially complete now--what remains is an extensive period of polishing, balancing, and tuning before the game is released. Hopefully, the final months in its development will go well--if it works out according to plan, Dungeon Siege looks like it'll be a tremendous amount of fun.

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jakeboudville
jakeboudville

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