A Look at Space Siege

I think just about everyone and their charmed demon knows about the latest announcement from Blizzard. Well, it seems that Diablo 3 is now a bright speck on the horizon. This is good news for fans of the action RPG genre, but I think it is too far away to get overly excited about. I’ll take a hard look at the trailer and emerging bits of news later in the week. For now, I’d like to look at Space Siege. This upcoming release should help action RPG fans kill some time while we wait for Diablo’s expected release next year.

It seems to be based on an interesting, if overplayed, premise for an action RPG. They’ve shamelessly moved the action into space. Earth is destroyed and some nasty aliens called Kerak’s are hunting down the last survivors aboard the colony ship Armstrong. It’s your job to kill these bad guys and save the day. Not exactly a groundbreaking premise but it should let the Dungeon Siege gameplay grow into a new environment.

I’ll start off with the basic core first. I’m really impressed with what they’ve shown of the controls. They’ve mixed in some of the aspects usually foreign to the genre. You still click to move your character but you fire your weapons by using the right mouse button. They also promise plenty of available hotkeys for the skills with options for rolling. Basic rumors of a cover system with ambush options should make it even better. I’ve always disliked the minimal interaction that Dungeon Siege featured in its combat, so this is a welcome addition.

There is also the faint promise of multiplayer as you explore another colony ship lost in space. It functions as a full multiplayer campaign. You lose the HR-V but gain the option of matching up with a few friends. This feature hasn’t been on display though, so we’ll have to wait and see whether it plays out.

The slightly unique aspect will be the use of branching cybernetics that work as special upgrades. You can choose to give up parts of your human body for cooler robot versions. While shooting lasers from your fingers may sound fun, the whole process will cause you to lose your “humanity.” There is a set meter that manages how close you are to a robot. Some special later powers require that you have high or perfect humanity levels. It works out to a different twist on the good versus evil basics as you decide what you’ll sacrifice to win. I just hope it works out better than the lackluster branching in Bioshock.

The other cool feature will be the party system. You will always have a special HR-V unit with you (Hodgson’s Robotics Unit). This is basically a walking turret that can rain death down upon your enemies. You have the option of upgrading him throughout the game, so it should at least keep combat interesting.

Space Siege certainly looks like it should be an interesting twist on the dungeon crawler. I’ve been impressed with their presentations so far but these special features could go very wrong very fast if the implementation is off.

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