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Dungeon Siege Updated Preview

"We take an updated look at Gas Powered Games' hack-and-slash RPG."

Create your own character from scratch.

Create your own character from scratch.

Designer Chris Taylor is best known for his work on Total Annihilation, the award-winning 1997 strategy game. His new team, Gas Powered Games, is now hard at work finishing up Dungeon Siege, a colorful 3D role-playing game that lets you play as a humble farmer-turned-hero. And the game is open-ended enough to let you create a character who will eventually become a master warrior, a veteran marksman, or a powerful wizard. Over the course of the game, you can master close-combat fighting, ranged combat, and magic spells and also enlist a party of followers to aid you on your quest.

And judging from the recent build we've received, most of Dungeon Siege's most interesting features are already in and working. The single-player game lets you create a detailed custom 3D character from a male or female model and then choose his or her hairstyle, hair color, skin color, and clothing. (The multiplayer mode will also let you choose to play as a dwarf or, of all things, a skeleton.) Once you've created your character, you'll be ready to venture out into the world.

Dungeon Siege has lots of hidden areas.

Dungeon Siege has lots of hidden areas.

Dungeon Siege begins on your character's farm. You've been tending to your crops as usual when you suddenly hear the pained cries of a village elder. Apparently, he's been struck down by monsters and warns you to seek help against the coming invasion. Dungeon Siege's controls are easy to pick up, especially for players familiar with Blizzard's Diablo games, so we were able to quickly get into the game, arm ourselves with the farmer's pitchforks and rakes, which happened to be lying on the ground, and get moving by using the game's click-here-to-move-here control scheme, which also resembles Diablo's. Though the game's different areas, such as the farmer's field, the forests, the dungeons, and other locations, are all colorful, detailed, and full of ambient wildlife, each of them is clearly and intuitively laid out, and many outdoor areas have roads to help you find your way. But as you might expect, you can and should explore past the roads to uncover secret monster dens and treasure troves. Dungeon Siege also has a handy auto-map that you can bring up at any time, and since you can actually move your characters while looking directly at the auto-map screen, you're a lot less likely to miss the game's many secrets. The game also has some very nice lighting effects, including animated shadows and day-and-night cycles--and though Dungeon Siege's nights are dark, they'll never make you lose your way.

And since Dungeon Siege is a hack-and-slash RPG, you'll fight by day, by night, over hills, under dales, and pretty much everywhere and anywhere else. The game uses a highly streamlined system that lets you quickly choose your weapons. Each of your characters gets four slots--a melee weapon slot, a ranged-weapon slot (for bows and thrown weapons), and two magic spell slots--and you can switch your active weapon with a simple hotkey setup. Dungeon Siege will also let you set down general strategies for your stalwart band of adventurers to follow. For instance, you can arrange them in different marching formations, like in many real-time strategy games and also in recent RPGs such as Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale. The game will also let you set behavior patterns for your party members--you can set them to hold their ground, actively pursue monsters, attack the nearest or most dangerous enemy, or let them freelance.

Posted on Feb 14, 2002