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6:24 AM on 06.16.2011

Dungeon Siege 3 (offline coop) review

It's been over five years since Dungeon Siege 2, a game I played to death back when it was released, I loved it. But its been over 5 years since Ive played it, so Ive forgotten most of its main gameplay mechanics completely, with that in mind I went into dungeon siege 3 as if i hadn't stepped foot in the franchise before. So with that said, read on for my full review of dungeon siege 3.

First off a small bit of background info, we played this game 2 player coop throughout, I was the main player, the mage. My brother who joined me throughout the entire journey was the warrior. We are avid action RPG fans and more so if we can get coop on the go. We were heavy WoW players back in the day and since leaving it we've always been looking for coop RPG experiences to play, as that was our main draw to WoW.

Details: Platform: 360
Difficulty: Hardcore
Players: 2
Main classes used: Warrior, Mage.


So lets get started with the story, your one of the sole surviving members of the legion initially trying to escape the evil clutches of Jeyne Kassynder, a character whos past is shrouded in mystery. Your tasked with rebuilding the legion to which you belong and fighting back. Thats the jist of the story, its quite interesting and will keep you engaged throughout.

When interacting with characters in the story your given a question wheel, like mass effect or any other game with the feature. Conversations serves as a means to get information out, you can choose to keep on listening to get more details on your current matters, or just say goodbye and move on, so if your more interested in gameplay over story, you can quickly skip through any conversations easily (Not that you would want to though). At certain points in the game your given choices to make about the current situation your in. For example you have a captured enemy,kill them? set them free? have them carry a warning? There arn't really solid 'good' or 'bad' choices, instead they are in a morally Grey area, making decision making more difficult, there is no set good or evil path. Thats not to say your choices don't have consequences though. Depending on your choices you can earn things called 'Deeds', basically if you pick certain choices, it can count as a deed towards someone, and instantly gives you a permanent staff buff based on your decision, deeds are not just limited to decision making however, completed side quests and influencing your party member are also a means to get deeds, adding more incentive to go on and do the side quests. The side quests themselves can be just as interesting as the main story itself and are worth doing, if not for the neat stories they tell but also as a way to gear up as they often have dungeons exclusive to them. Many side quests also end with bosses, except their more like sub bosses, we beat about 5 sub bosses before fighting our first actual boss, until then we thought they where actual bosses, but damn were we surprised, I'll come back to bosses later. Onto the Game-play


So the meats and the bones of the game, if the gameplay sucks your only playing for the story, but luckily that is not the case. The design is well thought out, in depth and an absolute joy to play.

Classes, Talents and Leveling

You start out with your 2 stances and 2 starting spells. A stance is pretty self explanatory, each character has 2 stances and their standard attacks vary depending on each stance, for example the Mage has a ranged area of affect attack stance that is great for long range but cannot touch enemies that are near you, his other stance is a lightning glove single target melee attack, good when your fighting one on one. You might think that you'll only ever use one stance with some characters but that is not true, changing stances is important and if you do not use both stances well enough you won't get very far, especially on hardcore.

Each stance starts with 1 spell each, with a total of 3 spells for each stance. You also have defensive spells, there are 3 of these and usually do something along the lines of heal over time or shield. In total each character has 6 attacking spells and 3 defensive spells. That might seem somewhat underwhelming but it isn't. not only is each spell for each character very different from each other but you can also add proficiency points to your spells along 2 separate paths, each path can only have 5 points on it which you can either spend equally on both proficiencies or all on one, its a great tool that allows you to adjust your spells to be more useful to your play-style. For example with the mages geometry of annihilation spell you can add proficiency points to either increase the length the spell remains on the floor (It is an AOE Damage over time spell) per rank, or add a slowing debuff to enemies while they stand in it and an increased to allies agility while they stand in it which increases per rank. You have to decide whats best for you, should you go all out damage? or specialize in buffs and debuffs so your whole party can gain from it. Every spell for each character is distinct enough to either make your choice for what proficiency you choose to be a difficult or easy one.

As if customizable spells wasn't enough you also get talents! And boy are they interesting, they can vary from being healed more whenever you're healed, adding debuffs to a selection of spells, enhancing your dodge, increasing your critical strike damage etc. Like spells though not all of them are unlocked from the get go so you have to gain many levels to be able to invest in the more interesting ones.

That's it for your classes, a varied selection of characters that all have strengths and weaknesses, unique attacks and spells for each character that you can customize to your play style, because of this, every class is just great to play because you can tailor them to your style, making whatever class you pick the best option.

Leveling is nothing new, you kill monsters, complete quests, you gain experience and level up. There is one new leveling feature however that sticks out quite an interesting feature. Each spell you have has a mastery meter, the more you use the spell the more the meter fills up. When you finally get it up to full(It takes a considerable amount of time to do so) You unlock empowered versions of the spell, MUCH more powerful than the standard version and usually adds some cool buffing/debuffing effect when using it as well. Now, you may be thinking that thats quite overpowered and you will just stick to using that spell once it is mastered, but thats not the case. You can only use the empowered versions when you have power orbs, which I will explain in the next section of this review.

Combat, Inventory and Strategy

So the combat? Is it good? or is it a mash fest? Is there even any strategy? Time to answer these questions and more.

You will be pleased to hear that the combat is addicting, fun, innovative and not to mention tough at times. Me and my brothers choices in classes made a great combo, a tank and a ranged DPS. It reminded us of our WoW days where he'd soak up the damage from bad guys while I beat the hell out of them from a distance.

You have your health bar, a focus meter (mana bar) and power spheres. There are NO focus or health potions in this game, at all, ever! You might think of this as a put off, how are you supposed to heal and get more focus? well the game handles these two problems pretty well. The lack of health potions is easily supplemented with your healing spells, talents as well as shields to block, dodging and HP draining items, having health potions would actually make this game too easy but instead with there being none, It is easier to die and takes more skill and tactics to stay alive during battles. This can make for some intense fights, especially if one player is down and needs to be revived. to revive you need to stand on top of the player and hold RB for about 2 seconds, there is no focus cost or item used for this. If you take a hit in that time the revive fails, so you need to time it well if your doing it in combat.
The issue with focus is very cleverly handled, now. As i said before I cannot remember much of DS2 so if this is in that then my apologies for forgetting. Now with that said, when you run out of focus from using spells the ONLY way to get that focus back is to hit them with your standard attacks which refills the focus meter a small amount each time you hit someone, this makes battles more interesting as you have to keep switching form spells to standard attack. Not only that though, but using spells increased your power meter, fill it up and you can use your defensive spells or empowered versions of your normal spell, or an empowered version of your standard attack, using these power spheres is so much fun, being able to deal massive damage in one blow or heal yourself is very useful. You only start with one sphere but you gain more as you level up.
You also have your block and dodge moves, each characters dodge is slightly different from one another, some go further and faster and some act like teleports. You will be using dodge a lot in this game to avoid incoming attacks, your invincible while dodging so you take no damage while the animation is in motion, great for multiple groups of enemies. The block however, originally me and my brother thought this didn't have much use, but once we reached that actual first boss and realized how useful block was it was a godsend. Great for single target fights as well as bosses. Blocking uses focus, so you take no damage while blocking as long as you have focus.

Now onto the boss fights, oh boy.. Now keep in mind we where playing on hardcore as we find games too easy on anything lower. The mini side quests bosses are generally quite easy, they usually have a set of 4 moves or so which you need to learn how to recognize fast in order to be able to beat them, they have TONNES of HP and can take up to 5 minutes of severe beat down to kill. Actual bosses on the other hand are very hard, the first boss took us about 6 attempts, each fight was about 10 minutes each. The actual bosses have similarities to WoW, they have loads of HP, require a lot of teamwork and coordination, can kill you in a few hits and even have separate phases and are generally Endurance fights. Fighting the first boss on hardcore may seem quite daunting at first, because it is a very difficult fight, but at the same time it feels like when you lose it was your fault, driving you forward with another 'we'll get him next time!!!'. Just be sure that whenever the boss changes tactics, so should you, otherwise you'll soon be dead. My and brother felt a great sense of achievement beating the first boss after a few attempts and getting the phat loot that dropped afterwards.

Now the inventory system, it is quite standard as most other games like this are such as diablo/torchlight etc. You get new gear with better stats and stick it on, you'll find loot quite often and you can purchase new items from vendors. Your characters appearance changes with the more powerful items, making the new power match their outward appearance. You can also transmute items into gold should your inventory get full, though I never found myself in this situation, selling the items to vendors gets you more gold as well.

The Coop experience

All in all, me and my brother had a blast developing strategies for enemies, by working together you will find fighting enemies becomes much easier, and much more fun. We only wished that we could play 4 player coop throughout as we think it could only add to the amount of fun to be had, presuming the difficulty scales with each new player added. The only gripes with the coop is that my brothers character wasn't really his, he was my AI partner which he took control of, he does still however contribute into conversations in the main story which is quite nice. Another actually neat feature is if my brother went to the kitchen or bathroom or anywhere away from the game, the game recognizes his lack of movements and the AI takes over while he's away, following me and fighting in battles Allowing him to start playing again by just moving the analog stick.

In conclusion

In conclusion dungeon siege 3 is what I feel a great addition to the series, the classes all feel like their own, the combat is fun, the spells are a blast to use, and it is genuinely challenging on the hard difficulty and the story is interesting. All in all I'd call Dungeon siege 3 a success!

Score: There is no score! Read the review and make up your own mind about the game!   read

10:29 AM on 06.03.2011

The decline in PC gaming

Yes, this seems like an old, done to death topic but I did research on this subject for university a while ago and thought I may as well post my findings online, so here you go! added in pictures to make it less like a wall of text.


Video game software sales for the PC industry have been slowly falling since 1999. This paper has looked at the evidence of the decline in the global market for PC games in the recent years and discusses the main reasons and causes as to how it has happened. It has considered how shifts in trends where consumers are now playing casual free-to-play games on their PC’s and how people deciding to buy console games over their PC counterparts have affected overall sales including how digital rights management (DRM) is not helping the publishers that are trying to protect their games, as well as how piracy has affected the market and lowered the number of developers creating games for the platform. It also explains why the PC is now an afterthought when it comes to big releases for games and why big name publishers are focussing their interest on the console market instead. It also discusses how some publishers have made successful attempts at keeping piracy at bay whilst also keeping the consumer happy, and how Valve corporations’ digital distribution portal Steam is simultaneously saving and destroying the software market for PC games.


The PC was the dominant market for games during the 90’s, boasting much more powerful graphics than the current consoles, the PC was always one step ahead and is still to this day the largest platform for games. Most, if not all the CPU and graphically demanding games would be released on the PC and gave rise to such popular genre’s as Real Time Strategy (RTS) and Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG).

The PC’s Video game software sales peaked in 1999 and since then they have been slowly dropping ever since, whereas the figures for console games has generally been rising. Console games now rake in nearly ten billion dollars every year with PC games pulling in just under one billion, the market share for PC games has been slowly shrinking and they have a roughly %14 market share.
Piracy also started becoming an issue for the PC. More people owned PC’s than consoles and games released for the platform were easy to crack and be distributed freely around torrent sites, some games illegal downloads would exceed the number of sales of the actual game, an incredibly damaging result for the publishers, all the while consoles were relatively safe from the threat of piracy. This was something that the video game publishers found attractive and so they started developing primarily for the consoles, leaving the PC as an afterthought, thus beginning the shift of power from the PC to the console

A short History of the PC games market

The PC was considered the best for playing games in the 90’s, with its superior graphics and sound that trumped anything a console could produce at the time, as well as its online capabilities that allowed gamers to play each other over the internet. It set the standard in what could be done in games and gave birth to many genre’s including the RTS, MMORPG and the point and click adventure.
It wasn’t until the release of the 6th generation consoles, the Xbox, PS2, Gamecube and the Dreamcast in 1999 that sales in the PC market started to slump. This was because the consoles where slowly catching up to the PC in terms of graphics and power and with the release of Sega’s Dreamarena for the Dreamcast and Microsoft’s Xbox live service for the Xbox, consoles could now play online, something previously exclusive to the PC platform. This gave the consumers more incentive to purchase a console as they had everything you would want for gaming on a PC for a much lower price. People who wanted to play the latest PC games would have to shell out hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds to build a suitable PC and the price of the console was a good alternative to those who could not afford it as those same games where now able to be released on the consoles as well.

Piracy & Digital Rights Management

Piracy has become a massive problem for the PC market and is one of the main reasons it is not doing well anymore. Piracy is illegal and it is when one consumer obtains a copy of any game and releases it free to download on the internet where anyone can get it and the PC is by far the easiest platform to do this. It is also very difficult to catch people illegally downloading software.

In 2008 game development studio Infinity Ward released their megahit First person shooter (FPS) title Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 for all platforms. The resulting sales from the PC version of the game were shocking. With only a 3% contribution to the overall sales of the game the PC version made 16.5 Million dollars(Anon, 2010). The figure would usually be higher, but due to piracy the sales of the game have been greatly reduced. The game was downloaded a reported 4.1 million times from torrents sites, losing the company over 245 million dollars in potential revenue, a staggering figure. When put next to the Xbox 360 the figures are essentially swapped around, making 313.5 million dollars and losing 58 million to piracy, making the console platform the better choice for releasing games for due to its significantly lower rate of piracy (Radd, D. 2009).

Due to the large amounts of piracy in the PC market developers are more reluctant to develop games for the platform (Reimer, J. 2006), and those that still do often create it for the console first and then port it to the PC months later after release. The publishers that do this sometimes do so deliberately, as to prevent piracy that would stop consumers buying the console versions. This forces the PC gamers to either wait or buy the game on a console, an effective way of preventing piracy of the PC version by giving the consumer the choice of purchasing the game on a console earlier, though this also means that the console receives more sales than the PC version, making it more redundant than it seemingly already is and any form of DRM that may be used does nothing to prevent the piracy of the game when it is finally released on the PC.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) is software the publishers put in their games to prevent piracy, it is there to protect the game, but since it has first been introduced it has only made piracy more appealing to consumers. Years ago when a PC game was bought, all you would need is a CD-Key to authenticate your copy of your game during installation, and you could install it on as many machines as you wanted. Nowadays though the person who bought the game is forced to use the publishers own software (Oxford, T) in order to authenticate that they have a legitimate copy of the game and recently some publishers have added additional restrictions to their games, such as limiting the number of times a game can be installed before it becomes un-useable and requiring the user to be connected to the publishers server at all times while playing, and if the server goes down they cannot play such was the case with Assassins Creed 2 (Anon, A. 2010). This restriction treats the consumers that purchased the game legitimately worse than those that simply pirate it, and is actually inadvertently encouraging piracy instead of preventing it, and some users will just buy the console version instead to avoid all the hassle that comes with DRM altogether (Radd, D. 2009). This is damaging for the market and is one of the main reasons for its decline, but at least some companies are trying a different route with DRM, one that does not punish the real consumers that purchased the game legitimately.

American video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment have released many games over the years, and have been a victim of piracy themselves, but their recent releases have done very well to combat its effects. The MMORPG World of Warcraft has over 11 million subscribers, none of which have a pirated copy of the game (Reimer, J. 2006). This is because blizzard requires its customers to open an account for the game and pay a monthly fee to access it. Without paying there is no way to play the game. While this is an extremely effective model to combat piracy it can only be applied to MMORPG’s as consumers expect to have to pay for these types of games because of the amount of content and hours a player can spend within the game makes it worth the money, whereas in any other genre of game the user expects to be able to play online for free and no company has yet ran the risk of trying to charge consumers to play for their FPS or RTS games.

Blizzard has not only been successful in combating piracy with its MMORPG but its free to play online RTS game Starcraft 2 is also doing well with low piracy rates. This is because the DRM that blizzard uses with this game is more beneficial to the user than other DRM’s (Martin, J. 2010). The game requires an online activation and once this is done the player can play single player as much as he or she likes, the user has the option of remaining connected to the internet which is not only used to authenticate the game every time they log in, it also offers the player community features and achievements that encourage them to stay online while they play, resulting in a much more successful and well designed type of DRM.

All this evidence shows that piracy is in fact one of the reasons for the decline in the market for the PC gaming industry, its effects on the sales of PC games are crippling and devastating and until effective measures are used to combat it that don’t frustrate and aggravate the consumer are widely adopted, such as Starcraft 2’s activation method, the PC market may never have the impact on games as it used to and its market share will keep on shrinking.

Steam & The retail market

Valve Corporation has a digital distribution service for the PC called Steam (Anon, A. 2010) that releases games for consumers, giving them the option of downloading titles directly to their PC instead of having to go to a local computer shop to purchase it. This is coincidental as when valve was first released the physical space that the PC games market occupied in retail stores had been slowly shrinking for years(Hook, R.B. 2009), sometimes disappearing completely, and the Steam service offered the alternative of buying any major PC game release from the comfort of home. This helped raise the sales of PC games as Steam offered competitive prices and friendly DRM, and with 25 million users they have made a big impact in software sales. These two things combined have actually reduced piracy rates slightly because users can download the games quickly and the prices for them are reasonable, it seems Steam has singlehandedly saved the software market for PC games just as it almost disappeared completely from physical retail space.

What you'll see on most PC game shelves now

Valve however, is also the one of the main reasons for the disappearance of the physical retail space PC games used to occupy. This is because many publishers now release their games directly onto steam, and the physical copies that are made come with the steam software. First time purchasers of a physical copy of a PC game with steam will subsequently install the software and any future game purchases will be likely made with steam. As a result of this stores would receive fewer sales from steam released PC games and would choose to not stock them for fear of losing their customers, damaging the industry further.

The evidence here shows that Steam is a great innovation for the PC games market and doing well to increase sales with its market dominance and has even expanded its services to the MAC (Foresman, C. 2010), but its success is also meaning the failure of physical retail copies of PC games as most of those customers are now with steam.

Casual games

One thing that many people forget to account for when discussing the PC gaming industry is the increase to the number of browser based, free to play games on the internet (Han et al 2008). These games come in many forms such as flash games or with the usage of cloud computing-based (streaming games) solutions. Games like the hugely successful Facebook game FarmVille have massive player bases that make their money through micro transactions (Steinberg, S. 2010). That is, the game is free to play but if the player wants to have an edge in the game they can pay for it with real money. Many games like this exist in the internet and it is a hugely profitable business. Their success is because of the low barrier for entry they have and how cleverly they have been monetized, no piracy means no loss in sales and users only pay if they want to, which they will if the game is good and they get into it. The rise of laptops (Radd, D. 2009) also has a part in this, as these free-to-play games do not demand much from the computer, almost anyone can play them. The PC market is seeing a large focus shift from hardcore games to these hugely popular casual free-to-play games. While they are not the reason the industry is failing, they are the reason the industry isn’t going to disappear anytime soon.

in conclusion

In conclusion the primary reason for the slowly decaying PC games industry is due to piracy, it’s impact on the industry is devastating and is causing game developers to prioritize their time on the consoles rather than the PC. The use of DRM is also an issue that is affecting the market, and until it is used correctly by publishers it will continue to disrupt the market. The failure of the physical software from retail stores has Steam partly to blame, but this is a natural shift as digital distribution services are on the rise and was only a matter of time until it was going to happen. PC gaming is not going to disappear; the structure of the market is just changing. With a high increase in browser based games and with services like steam, it is changing to a more digitized casual market for games. Analysts even predict that the PC market will reach $13 billion by 2012 (Geddes, R. 2007)

Ethical issues

A few ethical issues were encountered while collating data for the project. The first is that all the retailers that stocked PC games were angry at Steam as it was taking away their customers, while on the other hand this was market steam was aiming for, and as such they could not do much to assist in the absence of retail purchases as it was their aim to have people buy their games digitally. The second is that the because of the shift from hardcore games to casual games in the PC market the original


Anon, 2010, “Piracy Stats for Modern Warfare 2”, [Online], Available: [25 Nov 2010]
Oxford, T. “The truth about PC game piracy in Depth: The figures, the excuses and justifications examined” [Online], Available: [20 Nov 1010]
Radd, D. 2009, “Opinion: Who Killed PC Gaming?”, [Online], Available: [25 Nov 2010]
Reimer, J. 2006, “id co-owner says piracy killing PC gaming” [Online], Available: [21 Nov 2010]
Steinberg, S. 2010 “Is PC Gaming Dead?”,[Online], Availiable: [25 Nov 2010]
Martin, J. 2010, “ is effective anti-piracy tool”, [Online], Available : [25 Nov 1010]
Hook, R.B. 2009, “PC gamers: A Dying Breed?” [Online], Available: [25 Nov 2010]
Foresman, C. 2010 “Mac gaming renaissance coming in 2011, powered by Steam” [Online], Available: [25 Nov 2010]
Anon, A. 2010 “ Is the Steam service from Valve the future of PC gaming?” [Online] Available: [25 Nov 2010]
Chronis, Cole, Dreunen, Zelfden, Zarate. 2008 ‘’The PCGA Presents: The PC Gaming Industry in 2008’’
Geddes, R. 2007 PC Game Market to Reach $13 Billion by 2012” [Online], Available: [25 Nov 2010]   read

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