Review by Misfit119

"Throne of Agony is a decent enough hack and slash it just gets really boring."

Most people who play hack and slash games usually aren't looking for the most innovative experience. Give players some cool abilities, multiple characters to choose from and a story that gets you from the beginning to end and they are happy. However some of these games fail utterly in a few key areas, whether it is an abysmally horrible story or a boring leveling system.

On the one hand, Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony really doesn't fail at anything. On the other hand it doesn't really do much to set itself apart from the other games of this genre out there. Essentially you are given the requisite warrior, thief and wizard to choose from and you must save the world from a menace. There are a few cool things about DS: ToA but they don't save it from this games major problem: repetitive combat.

There are many who would think to themselves “Repetitive combat? Isn't that what hack and slashes are all about?” That is true to some degree but the better games don't fall into that category. In many games of this type you cannot simply charge all enemies and simply mash the attack button if you want to survive. For example, you might need stunning attacks to stop archer enemies long enough to kill them and elemental melee attacks to fight bosses. Strategy not only makes your life easier but it can be damn near a necessity while playing some games.

Throne of Agony is not one of these games. Even though the game allows you to hotkey up to six abilities so that you have quick access to them, you will likely end up finding two or three abilities and then using them near exclusively. I played through a good 80% of the game only using two particular abilities only using others when I got bored.

It doesn't really matter whom you choose to play as either it still stands true. Whether you are using Allister, the Human Battle Mage, Mogrim, the Half-Giant Warlord, or Serin, the Shadow Elf Stalker. So when playing as Allister you might find yourself spamming a fireball type attack but with Mogrim you might find yourself using a melee stunning attack over and over.

Honestly the only difference between playing as the different characters is that they all have a variant on the basic plot that they follow. As I said before, the basic plot is your typical save the world storyline but there are a few small things that set the game apart. Allister is chasing the love of his life, Sedara, Mogrim is following a mysterious call that seems to be leading him on this quest and Serin is following visions that are guiding her on her journey. These small differences in the characters actually make the game a bit more interesting than it appeared at first glance but it doesn't totally save it.

One major thing that works in this games favor is the quality of the graphics. They look pretty detailed for a game of this genre and are definitely nice for a PSP game. This is especially true of the bigger boss monsters who look fairly intimidating. Of course the trade off for these graphics is that the game loads like a snail in the winter. Sure we all know that this is a problem with PSP games in general but it gets really bad in this game, especially late game. Its not really a bad idea to have something else to do while playing the game simply so that the load times don't frustrate you.

A major flaw with the game is that the sound is so threadbare as to be laughable. All the sounds you would expect from combat and using your abilities are here but otherwise the game is mostly silent. When you talk to most NPCs there is a small sound byte that plays, essentially a one liner, that they repeat pretty much every single time you speak to them. It's kind of lame and, after playing the Champions series on the PS2, its hard for me to go back to a lack of all conversation with the other characters in the world.

One nice thing that sets this game apart from the other games of its ilk is that you get followers in this game. Normally, in hack and slash type games, its one lone warrior fighting off an army of enemies by himself. Most allow for multiple players and many, including Throne of Agony, even let you play over the internet but you must rely on other players for support. In this game you get to pick a follower from one of two choices when making your character and you can obtain four others as the game goes on. So even though you can only have one out at a time you can have up to five followers to pick and choose from. So even if one dies you can switch to another one for continued support and simply get the dead one revived when you return to town. But rather than just giving you a meat shield to aid you these followers will actually gain levels and skill points in their abilities, much like you will. This allows you to customize their abilities to tailor them to your playing style.

The other major selling point for this game are the Heroic and Epic classes you can pick up. When each character reaches level 30 they gain the ability to pick from two new classes that add on to their current one and gives them five new abilities to choose from. Typically one of these classes continues your current play style and the other changes it a bit (ie. for the Half-Giant Warlord one class gives him some spell abilities while the other makes him a stronger warrior). Then at level 60 you can pick from four more classes, two that are a step up from the last class. So if you went from a Battle Mage to a Vile Wizard, you could either become the ultra powerful magic user, the Lich, or a more melee combat oriented Death Knight. It's a very interesting concept that actually inspired several character ideas I wouldn't have played otherwise.

Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony has some nice ideas, and it is a competent enough game, but it simply gets too repetitive. If you can allow yourself to ignore just how bland it can be at times you will get an interesting story and a fairly unique action-RPG experience. Unfortunately this is harder than one might initially imagine because, even though you might actually like this game, it really does get too hard to bring yourself to play it more than once.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 08/06/07

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