Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony
Developer: Supervillain Studios
Publisher: 2K Games
Release Date: Out Now
Players: 1-2 wifi link
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On my PS2 and other home consoles I expect to play pretty much anything but with my PSP youíd think only a few types of games would work, as you need different qualities in a portable game: accessibility, simplicity and uncomplicated controls. Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony manages to turn what would normally be a rather heavy genre (RPGs) into a reason for PSP owners to carry two battery cells around with themÖ

The storyline is ten a penny: the end of the Ďsecond ageí is here and all manner of nasties are teaming up to kick the keisters of the righteous and all that. Itís up to you to pick a character and help them out then! There are three characters to choose from: the powerful magician, the strong barbarian and the agile ranger. Unlike some RPGs you canít just level up certain parts of the profile to make your barbarian cast more magic or your magician a combat genius - they actually all play differently and it makes a difference which character you choose at the start. You also get a choice of two companions for each character which will compliment your skills, so the magician will get a combat behemoth and the barbarian will get a white mage for healing.

The atmosphere is bang-on; the environments range from desecrated shrines and fortresses to dank, moody caves and catacombs. The orchestral score keeps up every step of the way, creating tension and excitement in all the right places. The various monsters in the DS world are all quite sinister and vary from flying sprites to giant yeti-type monsters and scorpions.

The controls in Agony are pretty much what Iíd want in any game, let alone a handheld one: like a good pair of pants everything feels like itís in the right place and all the major functions are all close to hand when you need them. The game plays quite similarly to the Baldurís Gate series on the PS2, meaning the player has full control of all their characterís attacks and spells. The special attacks are mapped to the shaped buttons but pretty soon youíll acquire too many to use together. Ingeniously you can map the extra moves to the shaped buttons again, but while holding the R shoulder button. Itís a good idea for those who donít want to shuffle between loads of command menus and makes it easy for you to link moves into combos easily. You can switch between bow and melee by pressing left on the D-pad and use health potions with the L shoulder button. Everythingís quick and easy, exactly what you need on a handheld game.

Although the controls are geared towards instant action, the game isnít just another ďDynasty Warriors with orcsĒ and still has a great deal of depth to it. The sheer amount of weapons, armour and accessories that you can pick up is unbelievable, and you can spend either a little or a long time playing around with the combinations. The levelling system is quite sound, as special attacks and abilities are made available as you level up, and then you can upgrade them further after each level. The only problem is that once you start levelling up the enemies donít seem to offer much challenge and youíll plough through the masses pretty easily and soon enough your companion becomes redundant, as aside from the tough bosses there isnít much you wonít be able to handle.

This gripe goes hand-in-hand with another, this time with regards to the gameís many monsters: they will either all rush and attack you hand-to-hand or theyíll stand back and throw something at you. Thatís the only type of AI youíll find in Agony and it does make the game a little too easy when combined with the rather favourable levelling system. Sure, youíll come across a bunch of enemies that are both long and short-range but they wonít fight together-you can lure them away from each other and take them out on their own. Itís just a shame that they havenít put as much variation into the enemy AI as they have in other parts of the game.

Agony also offers the chance, like Champions of Norrath and loads of RPGs following it, for you to run through the campaign with a friend via wifi. You can also bring your existing characters and companions so can prove a pretty beefy team, if such a team is needed in this game. Unfortunately I couldnít find anyone willing to play with me I think once you find someone you could spend a good few hours playing with them, rather than the Ďplay one round and then find another roomí attitude you usually get when playing games online.

Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony is an engrossing RPG with enough to keep both the stat freaks and action junkies happy, with a good story and very few annoying flaws. After a while, especially after you get past level 30 the combat, as it did with Baldurís Gate, does start to get a little bit repetitive, but if youíre an RPG fan the repetition may well be what draws you to the game!


Best Bits

- Great atmosphere
- Loads of quests
- Nice, simple controls
- Fun combat
- Wifi co-op
Worst Bits

- A little too easy
- AI not very varied
- Combat may get stale
- Co-op underused

by: Crazypunk

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