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Chris Taylor's Dungeon Siege series of action roleplaying games have enjoyed a pretty good deal of success, spawning two successful main editions, the Legends of Aranna expansion pack, and inspiring not only countless mods but a major motion picture as well. Not content to rest on their laurels, however, Taylor and his associates at Gas Powered Games sought to crack the console gaming market, namely the PSP games. The project they began working on would eventually become 2006's Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony, and unfortunately it has proven to be a bit of a misstep for the RPG series.
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Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony is at its core a Diablo clone or, if you prefer to compare it to other PSP games, it is quite similar to the Untold Legends series produced by Sony themselves. Once you boot it up and select New Game, you'll have to choose from one of three characters (the magician Allister, the powerful warrior Mogrim the half-giant, and the speedy two-weapon-using Serin the shadow elf) as well as one of two companions unique to each character. As one might expect, the heart of the gameplay revolves around exploring different dungeon locations and taking down enemies in real-time combat.
Each character has a standard X-button attack, as well as special attacks that can be assigned to six different button combinations. Playable characters level up normally, but unfortunately to power up your apprentices you need to visit a shop and pay money. It's an unnecessary annoyance. Furthermore, the game tends to be repetitive and extremely easy, especially considering that you automatically heal over time if you sit still and, if you die, you have the option of re-starting your current level with experience in tact. That might appeal to some people, but I prefer some semblance of challenge in my hack-and-slash RPGs. On the plus side, though, the game does feature wireless co-op multiplayer.
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Games like this aren't typically known for their detailed, epic stories, and Throne of Agony is really no exception. In takes place in the same world as previous Dungeon Siege titles, following the conclusion of the second game. Following the second cataclysm, the third age of mankind has begun, but once again not all is well, and it's up to the three heroes to put things right. Each of them has a different reason for starting their journey, but in the end, it all comes down to saving the world again. It really isn't all that interesting, really.
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Graphics and Sound
Nor is the PSP version of Dungeon Siege a particularly impressive looking game. The graphics are passable, better than the Untold Legends titles at any rate. However, when compared to some of the more recently released PSP titles, it doesn't even remotely measure up. The sound effects are pretty bare bones, and there's a minimal amount of voice acting included, but it never seems to match a character's written text and thus creates continuity issues. Overall, I can't say I was particularly impressed by the graphics and sound in Throne of Agony, and to top it all off, the game features some pretty sizeable load times, even on a PSP-2000 model.
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All things considered, Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony isn't really a bad game, but it is a rather unremarkable one. There have been so many games that look and play just like this, with the same type of action-based combat and even the same basic look. The list begins with the original Diablo and its sequel and includes games like the Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series, the Champions of Norrath games, and the previously mentioned Untold Legends titles. With the exception of the latter two, all of these games are better than Dungeon Siege: Throne of Agony. If you're really nuts about this kind of hack-and-slash style RPG, odds are you'll enjoy this handheld title as well, but for everyone else, this is likely too familiar feeling and too unremarkable to be worth the time and money.