Few game genres are as conservative as fantasy role-playing games and Dungeon Siege III is no exception.
Tolkien tropes are flogged once again. Almost every character and location boasts an unpronounceable name that sounds vaguely Celtic. The story is yet another clash between the forces of good and evil. And there are dungeons, swords, magic, treasure, silly stats and busty she-warriors a-go-go.
All of this is delivered with a poker face so devoid of eccentricity and humour that you’d imagine the game would frown if you so much as smiled at the idea of getting your hero to wear the "sacred pants" item.
Dungeon Siege III’s action is similarly unmoving and statuesque. You play as one of four pre-defined heroes and head down linear corridor-like levels slaying largely identikit evildoers who burst like piñatas on death to release gold and other goodies.
And so it goes on. Kill. Collect. Equip. Shop. Level up. It’s just as well then that the combat is demanding – it’s vital to master dodging and blocking to survive – and the characters provide a variety of attack styles (guns, swords or magic). There’s also a good degree of freedom when developing the characters, allowing you to tailor their abilities towards your preferred play style.
Best of all is the co-operative multiplayer mode. The AI that controls the other heroes when playing alone is competent, but it can’t match the camaraderie of a tight-knit group going on a loot-gathering rampage.
Dungeon Siege III is fun in short bursts but its kill-and-collect formula rapidly becomes a grind. Still, as po-faced and samey as it is, Dungeon Siege III will be catnip for Tolkien devotees weaned on candlelit nights spent squinting at TSR rule books.