This isn't the only area in which Dungeon Siege III marks a turn for the worse in this series. While previous games let you accumulate full parties of four or more, you have a lowly party of two in this single-player campaign. (Though to be fair, you can replace your companion with the other two available characters once you've encountered them.) You can't take over control of anyone in your party, only the one you choose at the outset. Fortunately, some series standards have been retained, such as its seamless kingdom. Dungeon Siege III is a collection of corridors and narrow dungeons, but there are no loading screens separating them. Every so often, the game will load data and slow your healthy jaunt to a slow walk for a few moments, but such pauses are brief and don't hinder the forward momentum. Unfortunately, Dungeon Siege III's stubborn camera can make traversing those cramped dungeons a chore. You might find yourself backed into a corner by an undead horde, where the camera zooms in for an unhelpful view of your head. (Hello, inadvertent death!) Such camera failings aren't constant--but they're frequent enough to annoy.
Beware creepy wandering children: they never bear good news.
Dungeon Siege III's greatest visual treat is seeing its characters don progressively more intriguing armor. Anjali's starting outfit is hardly worth noting, but you'll enjoy seeing this mistress of the elements in a looming headdress in the game's final hour. Environments are heavy on dark dungeons and light on scintillating vistas, but there's enough variety to keep your travels visually lively. An ominous crypt is made to look even more evil by a candelabrum's green flames. Impossibly tall reeds grow from a stagnant swamp's waters. The crystalline walkways and corridors of an ancient dwarven mine wear thin, however, and there aren't any graphical elements that might have you exclaiming in awe over their beauty. The game gets the job done, and every so often--during a close-up of a shaman in his kaleidoscopic costume, for example--shows you something worth admiring. The soundtrack does its assigned duty, its themes occasionally reminiscent of music from The Matrix and other times evoking late Tchaikovsky, but it rarely stands out of its own accord.
If you tire of having just a single AI companion at your side, you can have a buddy take over in local cooperative play or have three others join you online. Many dungeon crawlers are energized by the addition of friends or strangers, and Dungeon Siege III is no exception. Setting enemies aflame while Lucas dashes through a cluster of spiders and Katarina dispatches them with her dual shotguns is a blast. But the co-op play has some execution flaws that limit its appeal. One of them is the camera, which forces players to closely stick together, even when playing online. It also has a tendency to move into positions that limit your view of the surrounding area, and it's simply not fun to get hit by homing fireballs you can't see until they're upon you. And should you join another's campaign, you aren't taking your own character with you; you're just taking over for the AI in that player's game. You don't get to keep any experience, skills, or loot that you might earn for your trouble.
The snow is immune to Anjali's fire attacks. Maybe Jeyne's troops should just coat themselves in ice.
With Dungeon Siege III, you might have expected a game that lived up to the nine-year-old adventure that started the series. Instead, you get a short and simple dungeon crawler with no aspirations to be anything more. On its own terms, Dungeon Siege III is fine, if standard-issue. You mash a button, cast some magic, and earn a ton of loot for your troubles. This game drizzles gold upon you as if it were pennies from heaven, and because you can turn unneeded items into currency right in your inventory screen, you never need to leave anything cool on the forest floor. But you needn't have played the first two games to see where this sequel falls short of its potential. And if you did play them, you're bound to be disappointed by how everything that made previous Dungeon Siege games special was stripped away. It's not that playing Dungeon Siege III is a choice you'd regret--it's that you wouldn't remember anything about it once it was over.