previews\ Sep 30, 2003 at 8:00 pm

Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna - PC - Preview 2

Early last year, Microsoft Studios released Dungeon Siege unto the world. The game is a really fun RPG hack and slash game (think Diablo) that was a blast to play, thanks to the intriguing storyline, graphics, and gameplay. Now it is nearly two years later, and the expansion pack Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna is about to be released unto the world. How is the game shaping up so far? Read on to find out!

While this game takes place in the same world and timeline, unlike most expansions packs, Legends of Aranna takes place in a different part of the world and has its own story that is completely separate from Dungeon Siege. The game begins in the small town of Arhok, where players find out that the main character is a descendent of a long line of heroes. As players progress though the game, they find out the reasons for the strange turn of events that has been happening.

Throughout the course of the game players will learn of an ancient race called the Utraean’s who are responsible for most of the magic that resides in the land of Aranna. As time passed the Ultraean’s ignored many dangers; and two races that they helped create eventually overtook them: the Zaurask and Hassat. It will be up to players to find out what really happened so long ago, and how they fit into the grand scheme of things!

One thing I found very interesting about this game is everyone starts off at level 1, even though I have a game save from Dungeon Siege still on my PC. When I first started playing I thought this was not fair, what about all the rare items and stats that I received playing though on the first game, but when I sat and thought about it, this move really made a lot of sense. Since some players really max out their characters, the expansion would have been a breeze. Having everyone start off at level 1 allows the developers to slowly ramp up the difficulty, and make the game last longer for everyone playing.

The developers created the best thing for this type of game: it is an auto arrange function for all of the items you collect. One thing that I despise about games like this is when you find a really neat item, you will have to go into your inventory and arrange it so you can carry it. What is worse at times you do all of this arranging, and you find out it can’t fit at all. With this auto arrange function, all players need to do is pick up the item, and the game will rearrange everything in your inventory so that the item you pick up could fit.

Being an expansion pack, the game is built off the graphics engine that the previous game had, with minor improvements. Even though this is still a beta version, the game looks really good! Players will transverse though spooky cemeteries, daunting forests, and many other environments that really fit this games creepy atmosphere.

The multiplayer for the game is really progressing well. It is always nice to see some co-op play either on the Internet or on a LAN. Another advantage to playing multiplayer is that you can trade rare items with other players.

The AI for the game is pretty challenging at this point, but it never gets to the point where you feel like there is no chance for winning. I think that this is a good idea, because just blasting though a game never gives anyone a sense of accomplishment when they beat the game. Also the AI for your party members is a whole lot smarter than in the original game. Nothing can be worse than playing through a game like this with AI party members and they are constantly dying or in need of health/mana potions constantly. This time around the AI takes better care of its members to the point where players don’t have to always keep a constant eye on them, instead of the enemy.

It is a good thing that the previous game was gorgeous and this expansion pack shows that the graphics have stood the test of time over this past year! Even though this beta is not fully optimized yet, it still runs smooth as silk on my computer system with no slow down at all, which bodes really well when the Dungeon Siege: Legends of Aranna is released.

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