8.31.2008

Game Review: Space Siege

Space Siege
6.8 of 10
Platform: Windows XP/Vista
Genre: Action-RPG
Developer: Gas Powered Games





Introduction
I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Dungeon Siege is the worst game I've played. It's one of those games that all you need to do is get from point A to point B, and kill everything between those two points. Luckily, Gas Powered Games learned quickly from their mistakes and improved Dungeon Siege II, heavily. That's why when Space Siege was announced, the third action-RPG under Gas Powered Games, I was very ecstatic. I thought, if GPG continues their progressive trend on their "siege" franchise, Space Siege would be a monumental game.

Story
Space Siege opens up with an interesting cinematic that promises us a space opera. It shows an armada of alien (known as the Kerak) space cruisers descending upon Earth with intentions of blanketing the planet with what weapons they have. In a desperate attempt to flee from Earth and avoid total annihilation, Humans have initiated a planet-wide evacuation and boarded massive colony ships. Only one ship, however, the ISCS Armstrong, was able to breakthrough the Kerak's blockade. But the Kerak managed to attach a pod full of warriors into the hull of the escaping ship. As the player, you will take on the mantle of Seth Walker, a combat engineer, and it's up to you to repel the alien incursion and save everyone aboard the Armstrong.

Seth Walker having a chat with the Armstrong's A.I. pilot.

Sadly, the interesting part of the story is only limited in the opening cinematic, and the promise of a space opera is a broken one. Basically, you'll just be running around and engage in witless conversation with NPCs, sharing backgrounds and histories with each other that won't come to any fruition. In addition, the twists and turns in the plot are very predictable since they have been used and abused in many science fiction films and other games. Then there's the data pads which have failed to deliver a side story that coheres with the main plot and expand the setting. I wish they could've utilized the pads to give us a hindsight about the Kerak war and the pandemonium that ensued during the evacuations.

Gameplay
Unfortunately, the gameplay is as lifeless and linear as the story. It pretty much shares a flaw with its spiritual predecessor, Dungeon Siege, where your character runs in an uninspired maps with single pathways and gun down every unintelligent being with a motor function. The objectives and missions are very flavorless too. For the most part, you'll be traversing through different sections of the ship in order to rescue a survivor, open/lock a door, or fetch some device for the resident NPC egghead.

I'll frag you into pieces.

On the positive note, I find the absence of an inventory and the non-standard loot drop in Space Siege to be quite ingenious. I always hate it when I stop to pick up a hundred items littered on the ground, and then decide which one should be left behind if the inventory is full. It's just anti-climatic. So, instead of going with the usual inventory/item system of action-RPGs, the developers gave us the parts & workbench upgrade system. What it is basically is that your opponents will drop parts and materials instead of a standard item. These parts and materials, which acts like a currency, can be used to upgrade your character, weapons and HR-V -your loyal robotic companion. It is also used to create health packs, grenades, and other contraptions of destruction that will give you tactical advantage in combat.

The only problem about the parts & workbench upgrade system is that the developers only gave us a few upgrade choices. So at the end of the game you'll have your character, HR-V, and three of your weapons, fully upgraded. The workbench upgrades are also uninteresting as they only increase your character's and HR-V's basic statistics like health and armor, or your weapon's damage and attack speed. It would've been awesome if they gave us a bazillion of cool choices on upgrades, such as adding a chance to stun or pierce through an enemy with your attacks, or even allow the purchase of abilities using parts instead of skill points.

Metallic arm for improved melee damage, check! Losing my humanity, check!

Cybernetics is probably the main reason why I got this game. But I'm quite disappointed because there's only one available part for each upgradeable slot. So if you found a cybernetic eye but didn't like its modifiers, then you could just forget it because that's the only eye you'll find through out the game. It would've been cool if you can make your own cybernetic parts in the workbench. Like the upgrades, cybernetics also gives a boost in your character statistics. Except that they also unlock abilities and allows you to wield powerful weapons. There's also a moral dilemma, of choosing between going cyborg or staying human, presented to the players. But it didn't really affect the gameplay since there are no grave consequences if you opted one side or the other.

Technical
There's nothing really worth noting on the technical part of the game. The graphics, like I mentioned earlier regarding the map, is uninspired. You'd be mostly running around in cold, dull gray areas of the ship. There's no contrast, and no area of the ship that really stands out from the other. The audio, however, is pretty decent. I especially enjoyed listening to the sound of the beam weapons, the barraging noise of the assault rifle, and the loud boom of the sonic blaster.

Say hello to my little robotic friend, alien scum.

The controls, on the other hand, is pretty horrendous. Space Siege uses the mouse to move the character, instead of the WASD keys, and to point, click, and kill an opponent or explosive barrels. So it's really cumbersome to maneuver around while shooting the enemies at the same time. In addition, all key controls can't be changed. It would've been very helpful if you could assign the hotkey of one of your abilities (Deadly Strike) to your mouse.

Conclusion
I really thought Space Siege was going to be the "it" game that would cement Gas Powered Games' reputation as one of the leading developers of action RPG. But the game is a step down from Dungeon Siege II. The predictable storyline, the boring gameplay, the dull areas and maps, and cumbersome controls were the factors that contributed to its fall. But I won't discount the unique loot & upgrade system of the game, even though it wasn't fully utilized to its potential. So if you're looking for some action RPG, that would abate your thirst before Diablo III comes out, look somewhere else because Space Siege isn't worth it.

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2 comments:

RONeiluke, RN said...

wow..very detailed review ha? too bad i'm not into gaming lately. dati adik talaga ako..hehe!

crucios said...

thanks for the review