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spread herself thin

Dungeon Siege II

Dungeon Siege II (DS2) is a computer role-playing game and is the sequel to 2002's popular Dungeon Siege. It was developed by Gas Powered Games and released on August 16 2005, one year delayed from original projections.

Story

The story is set at least 700 years after the events that transpired in the Legends of Aranna. The game's website states it has a more complex and varied storyline as compared to Dungeon Siege. Like its predecessor, Dungeon Siege II takes place on the continent of Aranna.

The story begins with cinematics summarizing the Great Cataclysm, in which the Sword of Zaramoth struck the Shield of Azunai to create a world-changing magical catastrophe that ended the First Age; and one summarizing how a prince named Valdis was led by visions to find the Sword of Zaramoth and join extremely powerful mages called the Dark Wizards. The power of the Sword and that of the Dark Wizards have made Valdis the most powerful man in Aranna. Valdis's armies consist primarily of Morden, a race of brutish and surly creatures that do his bidding without question.

Act I

The game starts with you and your good friend Drevin, both mercenaries in Valdis's employ, being deployed on Greilyn Beach. In the ensuing tutorial quest you battle your way past various creatures summoned by dryad nature mages. Along the way Amren, a clairvoyant elf of great repute, prepares to shoot you, but then feels compelled not to. You and Drevin continue to battle the dryads' minions until reaching Valdis's target, the Temple of the Coast. Along the way Drevin has a feeling like something is going to happen and gives you a medallion. Once the Temple is taken, Drevin's suspicions are confirmed when Valdis betrays and attacks his mercenaries. Drevin dies protecting you.

You are knocked out and later awake in the dryad city of Eirulan. There Amren, a friend of the warden Celia, vouches for you. As a favor to Amren, Celia releases you and sends you on an errand making a delivery to a nearby dryad outpost. Along the way you can enlist the help of Lothar, a grumpy half-giant, or Deru, an effervescent dryad.

The outpost has been taken by a small party of Morden, which you easily dispatch, and in doing so rescue Kirani, evidently a high ranking employee of Celia's. Celia then appears at the scene and, after hearing Kirani's tale, decides to send you on a more important mission. The Morden have been constructing tower forts throughout the jungle from which to launch attacks. You are tasked to destroy these, a task made easier by dry weather and the explosives the Morden have stored.

Once all the towers are destroyed, you are granted freedom and sent to priestess Taar, a compassionate dryad who likes mysteries, to get your items back. However, Taar claims that you are infected with the Plague, a weapon of Valdis's Dark Wizards that transforms its victims into maniacal beasts. You must go to an elven shrine deep in the jungle to drink from its curative waters. The shrine, and indeed most of Greilyn, is infested with Hak'u, a race of technologically primitive pygmies. You defeat the Hak'u and drink from the shrine's fountain, and collect some water in a vial for Taar to help other Plague sufferers.

Freed from prison and cured of the Plague, you decide to go home to Aman'lu. Taar offers to join the party as a guide and to deliver the vial of water to the exile colony. However, when you all reach the colony they find that the dryads have been maddened by the Plague and are attacking an old man. Once rescued, the old man goes over the Great Cataclysm in greater detail, that the artifact Valdis took from the Temple of the Coast is a piece of Azunai's Shield, and of Valdis's plan to cause a second Cataclysm. After an increasingly perilous and rainy journey, you meet Vix, a slightly daffy human commander who says that the Plague took his men. You decide to look for survivors as you make your way through the Kithraya Caverns to the coast. There are no survivors as they were overwhelmed and transformed into enemies but you do make it out to meet up once more with the old man. He reveals this time that the Plague is caused by the souls of warriors in Zaramoth's army, which were sucked into the ground when the Sword met the Shield and formed into a crystalline structure. The dark wizards deploy these crystals near their enemies, at which point the souls are released and possess anything that moves, transforming it into a highly aggressive abomination.

The portal at the beach leads to a human outpost in the desert. You are told that there is an artifact in the desert which may be able to repel Valdis's forces, so you decide to find it. Along the way you will battle the Skath, a race of hyena-men who fanatically guard Azunite sites and relics, and recover items used to find this artifact. Once you have used these you will receive a map and a mirror and then trek through the Lost Valley of the Azunites to find the artifact, which turns out to be a bowl. The spirit of an Azunite mage then appears and tells you that you are a direct descendant of Azunai and that you should take the bowl to Windstone Fortress.

Windstone Fortress is overrun with the Plague. You must help the remaining soldiers there. You will also meet Sartan, a half-giant with an ego to match his size. Once you have used the artifact and defeated the abomination in the temple courtyard, you will be free to pass to Aman'lu.

Act II

Aman'lu was attacked by Valdis and his Archmage just before you arrived. Celeb'hel the elder tells you what happened and that the Aegis of Death, another piece of the Shield, is on a caravan to Snowbrook Haven. You want to go after it to help guard it from Valdis, but the bridge south is out. You head north instead to find Finala the engineer, who was headed to the Elen'lu Isles to reactivate the Prism of the Elves. She's stubborn but she will agree to fix the bridge if you activate the Prism. The Tacklak, a race of impish forest folk, have stolen a number of key components and will need to be defeated for the prism to be reactivated.

The prism brings healing rains to Aman'lu that put out the lingering magical flames. Finala forgives you for fighting in Valdis's army and offers to join you in pursuing the caravan. You find its remains some ways into the woods and learn from its wounded driver that the Vai'kesh have taken the Aegis. The Vai'kesh, or Manu Ostar as they call themselves, are elves who once used the Aegis of Death to perform powerful spells, but one spell was too powerful, went out of control, and left the survivors, if they can be called that, as undead horrors. The Vai'kesh zealously fight to keep the Aegis but you are eventually able to take it.

The old man appears once more and now tells you to rescue Princess Evangeline of the Northern Reaches from the Dark Wizards, for she leads the Resistance and probably won't last under the Dark Wizards' interrogation. You go through a portal to an icy graveyard and meet the ghost of Champion Rahvan. The Champion asks you to visit the nearby crypts to verify his brothers' deaths. When this is done he will let you into the Azunite Catacombs, where you will confront the Dark Wizards. The Wizards decide to take a break from their interrogation but one stays to keep the Princess imprisoned. You fight him and, amazingly, you win. The Princess, a woman who cares little for formalities but still strives to appear strong and respectable, is freed and tells you to reinforce Snowbrook Haven, soon to be attacked by Valdis, as the Aegis of Blindness is kept there.

The Haven is already overrun by the time you get there but a few brave soldiers and their commander continue to fight. You aid them by killing Morden at select points, but then a dragon named Talon begins to attack. You manage to defeat him using a ballista. However, just when it looks like the Haven has held out, a Plague crystal shard lands and infects the remaining soldiers and their commander You run to the treasure room, take the Aegis of Blindness, and teleport to the human city of Kalrathia.

Act III

Hearing of the Resistance's defeat at Snowbrook Haven, the Kalrathians quickly surrendered to the Morden. To enforce their power the Morden have occupied the city with many troops and cut off the town's water. The town's young ruler, Lord Kalrathia, asks you to restore the town's water. Once this is done he realizes that the Morden may be beatable and says that if you can go to their city of Darthrul and kill their chieftain, Kalrathia may be able to revolt. This bold plan goes well. Kalrathia is free and you are given the Aegis of Sight. Tehruth, the town's military advisor, gives you a teleport stone which allows access to even deeper parts of Morden territory.

To recover the Aegis of Life, the same artifact you helped Valdis take on Greilyn Beach, you must venture through the Mines of Kaderak, where those foul Plague crystals are unearthed, destroy the main crystal clusters, and defeat the remaining dark wizards. The Archmage does not fight you just yet but his three undermages offer powerful resistance in their last stand.

You return to Kalrathia to find that Lord Kalrathia is nearly dead, you suspect by the hand of his advisor, Kynos. The young lord tells you to go under the city to reach the Agallan giants, for only they can reforge the shield. However, before you can reach the giants you must pass their test of wits. With this done you may proceed. The Agallans will reforge the shield, this time setting Drevin's medallion into it to improve its stability, and open a portal to Valdis's stronghold, called Zaramoth's Horns.

You fight your way to the top of the fortress. Along the way you encounter the Archmage, but his magicks are no match for the power of the Agallans and their shield. Finally you face Valdis. The power of the Sword makes him invincible and it looks as if you will never win, when suddenly the old man appears. It turns out the old man is actually a Dark Wizard. He takes the Shield from you and gives it to Valdis, who strikes it with the Sword, only this time it is the sword and not the shield that shatters. The Dark Wizard reveals that he manipulated you and Valdis into bringing the Sword and Shield together so that he could recreate the world according to his own twisted design. Valdis blames you for this and flies into a rage, committing every bit of power he has left to your destruction. After a long fight you kill Valdis.

Gameplay

Unlike Dungeon Siege, Dungeon Siege II takes a more varied approach to its gameplay. The original game was criticized for being too automated and lacking replay value. Developer Gas Powered Games improved the old system into a more versatile one that incorporates additional elements of strategy.

Combat automation

By default, the new system turns off much of the original game's combat automation and requires players to click once for each individual attack of their selected character.

Fortunately for people who liked the combat system of the previous version, the new system can be made to behave more like it. Clicking on a monster and holding the right mouse button makes the character continuously attack until the monster dies; this is similar to the attack system in Diablo II. There are also options that allow the player's characters to automatically defend themselves and/or automatically continue to attack their targets, much like in the old system.

Specialities and skills

In the original Dungeon Siege, the four character specialities (also known as classes) differed only in the items and spells they were allowed to use. In Dungeon Siege II, each speciality (Melee, Ranged, Nature Magic, Combat Magic) has a unique set of skills, arranged in a skill tree reminiscent of those in Diablo II, that determines a character's particular strengths. For example, melee-oriented characters can get better at using a shield to defend their allies or they can improve their two-handed weapon skills to more effectively attack opponents.

As in the original game, multi-classing (distributing experience and skills to more than one class) is possible, but it is best to do so with caution: A character learning skills in too many different areas may find him or herself spread too thin and unable to perform any role effectively.

In the expansion pack for Dungeon Siege II, "Broken World", two new character classes have been introduced. These classes are multi-class characters: the Fist of Stone being a multi-class of Melee and Nature Magic, and the Blood Assassin being a multi-class of Ranged and Combat Magic. These new classes have been given their own specialised skill trees in addition to the others, allowing them to multiclass more easily without being at as much of a disadvantage. For example, the Fist of Stone is able to cause small earthquakes when attacking to keep up with the damage output of a pure melee character, and the Blood Assassin is able to cause targets to hemorrhage blood to keep up with the damage output of a pure ranged character (as they multi-class, they cannot upgrade their weaponry as often and would otherwise be weaker in combat).

Powers

Another change in Dungeon Siege II is the addition of the Hero Powers system. Powers are special abilities that characters can use when normal attacks do not suffice; they include abilities like Invincibility for the entire party and the power to summon a lightning strike that damages all enemies in the area. They are acquired when certain skills are trained to a certain level. Each power has 3 levels, each requiring more skill points to get.

Like the skills in the skill trees, Powers increase in potency as characters level.

Parties and pets

Like its predecessor, Dungeon Siege II is a party-based RPG. Players can have up to 4 characters in a party under the first difficulty setting (Mercenary), 5 characters in Veteran difficulty, and 6 in Elite difficulty. Aside from being able to recruit non-player characters (NPCs) that function much like the player's own character, players can also buy pets that grow after being fed items. However, unlike its predecessor, the hirable NPCs have unique personalities and can converse with the player and each other at certain points in the game; they even have their own personal side quests.

Pets start off with a basic attack (and spell if applicable), gain a Power upon reaching the 3rd level of growth, and finally gain an emanation upon becoming Mature. Emanations are special pet-only auras that provide beneficial effects to friendly characters within range (such as increased mana regeneration).

Spells

The magic system in Dungeon Siege II remains largely unchanged. Combat Mages and Nature Mages still have access to separate spell lines that increase in power as the character levels. However, combat and nature magic are much more distinct from each other than in Dungeon Siege. Combat magic focuses on causing massive amounts of damage and weakening enemies with curses, while nature magic focuses more on healing, summoning and strengthening party members with embrace and wrath enchantments.

Parties are limited to a maximum of two concurrent buffs. Pets' spells count towards this buff limit, but their emanations (see above) do not. Weapon enhancement spells, used by the Fist of Stone and Blood Assassin characters introduced in the expansion, also do not count towards this limit.

Each enemy may only have one debuff placed on it at a time. All negative effects count towards this limit, including curses and stuns.

Death and unconsciousness

Dungeon Siege II's "game over" system is similar to that in many other role-playing games. When a character loses enough health, he or she usually falls into a state of unconsciousness. The character falls to the ground, unable to move, and must wait for his or her health to slowly regenerate itself or wait for magical healing from another character.

If a character is hit hard enough by an enemy, or if an enemy is persistent in attacking an unconscious character, the character may eventually be killed. Once death occurs, the character can no longer be healed and must be resurrected by another character or by a special NPC in town.

If the entire party is slain, the party may choose to continue by respawning back in town without their equipment. Their equipment is left on their corpses. The party must then find a way to retrieve its fallen equipment, either by venturing back to the characters' corpses or by having them summoned to town by an NPC for a monetary charge.

Multiplayer

Dungeon Siege II supports multiplayer cooperative gaming over LAN, the Internet, and the GameSpy network. Multiple players can cooperate together in separate-but-allied parties. There is a total limit of 8 characters, though only 4 can be player-controlled. Purchased pets count towards this limit but summoned creatures (from spells) do not. There's an unsupported "old school" mode in multiplayer, allowing up to 8 players to play simultaneously. To enable this, add "oldschool=true" (without quotes) to command line or the .ini file.

For LAN and Internet play, saved games are stored on the players' own computers.

For GameSpy play, saved games and characters are stored on GameSpy's servers. The GameSpy environment limits the amount of online cheating that can take place, but as of late beta, the possibility still existed.

GameSpy characters can be downloaded from the GameSpy servers to players' computers, where they can then be used for Internet, LAN, and single-player games. The reverse is not true: GameSpy characters can only be created and leveled on the GameSpy network itself. GS network supports only original games; pirate copies are blocked due to CD-Key control. Online play may therefore also not be possible with a second-hand game.

Expansion

2K GAMES released "Broken World" in September 2006 The expansion pack introduced several new features:

  • An additional act (campaign)
  • Two hybrid classes, based on existing classes
  • Dwarves as a playable race
  • Enchantment-based "recipes"
  • Two new pets purchasable at the new act's main town, including the Pack Ram and Kohl Beast
  • PlayStation Portable crossover items, to promote and to be used in conjunction with Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony

Bugs

Dungeon Siege II has seen patches released to address a variety of bugs. As of January 2006 there are still bugs in version 2.2 that can prevent completion of the game.

  • Some enemies may disappear or appear to be "in limbo", meaning they just don't do anything. This affects quests where a certain enemy needs to be defeated in order to proceed, and can include Valdis himself (which requires a restart of the game from the nearest teleporter - which is quite far away.)
  • Due to a bug that still exists in version 2.20, it is possible to wield a two-handed weapon using only one hand while holding a shield or another weapon on the other hand. This same bug can be used for duping in earlier version of the game. Duping portion of this bug was fixed in 2.20.
  • At certain points during gameplay, NPC-triggered conversations between the player and friendly NPCs can be interrupted by attacking enemies. In some cases, it is not possible for the player to re-trigger these conversations. Unfortunately, there is no patch for this as of now. An experienced player who knows where these conversations take place may minimize this problem by engaging the enemies preemptively while not entering the trigger area.
  • About two thirds into the game the player has to slay a dragon with a ballista in order to proceed. Trying to save the game at this stage has a very high probability that the dragon will disappear from the save game. This prevents the player from proceeding into the game and practically ends it.

References

External links

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