Dungeon Siege II Preview
By Kenneth Shelton

With all of the anticipation of Dungeon Siege II, my thought before starting to play this preview build was that it would be hard for DS2 to live up to my expectations.

At first glance, this upcoming title looked almost exactly like the first with a few tweaks to the graphics engine, but as I became drawn into the game I noticed the real difference the storyline and game play is amazing. Yes, the graphics are good, but if there is no plot no game play ... then whats the point?

The first installation of Dungeon Siege was enthralling, the graphics engine was seamless and the scenes were beautiful, but it lacked in game play. The level/class system was simple, and the plot was very linear (read: monotonous). Thankfully, Dungeon Siege II doesnt look to by any of these.

The class system is centered on the same main branches that the first one was (Warrior, Thief, Ranger, Nature Mage, Combat Mage), but you are allowed a greater range of interaction in regards to how your character progresses. Your characters levels are independent of their level in each of the discipline branches and, as you attain each character level, you acquire skill points which allow you to direct your characters development.

In each discipline there are several (10 or so) abilities that you can invest these skill points in. Each ability has a bonus it gives (+ to stats, damage, etc.) and, the powers you have depend on your levels in each of these abilities.

The powers are a nice boost in the thickest of combat because, unlike in the first DS, this game seems to actually be a little challenging. The powers range from magic based attacks, to stunning enemies, to increased physical damage for a short period and all come with stunning visual affects.

In addition to the character development, the plot and side quest seems to be quiet a bit more involved. The preview contained the entire first chapter (as it stood at the time of this build), roughly 6 hours of game play, and in that chapter alone there were around 10-15 side quests and most required deviation from the main storyline in order to complete.

In conclusion, I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised that DSII seams to live up to the hype. I became drawn into the story and was consumed for a good 2-3 hours a night until the preview as over, and I was quite disappointed that it was over! I for one am anxiously awaiting this release.