Rarely does a game come along so bland, so uninspired, that it practically forces me to seek even the most boring of shelters from the storm of its banality, but Dungeon Siege III, despite its Obsidian Entertainment pedigree (Fallout: New Vegas, Alpha Protocol), is exactly that game.
It falls neatly into the crack between laudable and lamentable, lodging itself squarely in the realm of the forgettable. It's the worst kind of game, one unworthy of either love or hate and all the more unplayable for its total lack of qualities both redeemable and irredeemable.
In fact, Dungeon Siege III is so impossibly dull that to escape it I:
MOWED THE LAWN: In the middle of the afternoon. In the 90-plus degree heat. With no shade whatsoever. I left Dungeon Siege III running while I mowed in the vague hope that it would fry my Xbox and I wouldn't have to deal with it anymore. When it didn't, I went over the lawn again just to make sure. No luck.
PLANTED AN HERB GARDEN: You know those gimmicky seed packets they were giving away for a while in boxes of Triscuits? As it turns out, they actually work, and watching them grow is more fulfilling than trudging through Dungeon Siege III's character classes, all of which progress through variations on the same tired "charge/shoot/area attack" theme. Now if I could only figure out what the hell I'm supposed to do with all this basil.
WATCHED IN THE NAME OF THE KING: A DUNGEON SIEGE TALE: This was more research than escape, really, but I wanted to remind myself that Dungeon Siege III was no aberration. Only Uwe Boll could take a premise involving farmer-turned-warrior Jason Statham's quest to keep usurper wizard Ray Liotta from stealing the Mythical Land of Wherever from King Burt Reynolds and not at least make it fun for its ridiculousness. Considering the source material, maybe Boll was actually spot-on with this one.
HELPED PAINT THE PORCH: Here's a lesson for all you World of Warcraft devotees—there are perfectly normal ways to grind through repetitive, seemingly meaningless tasks in the real world, and many of them involve rewards more tangible than better ways to grind for the next reward. In Dungeon Siege III's case, it's nearly impossible to tell that the rewards even exist, since the graphics are typically too blurry to display them.
STUDIED FOR A MIDTERM: I didn't really need to, and God knows I didn't want to, but when compared to the dreary, robotic lines of your average Dungeon Siege III conversation, the ins and outs of an elementary psychology textbook seem downright poetic.
UPGRADED AN ELDERLY RELATIVE'S CABLE SERVICE: To its credit, Dungeon Siege III is a relatively lag-free affair, inasmuch as its short, cramped corridors are so small that several of them can be loaded all at once without slowing down the game. Even so, playing through the same half-dozen of them gets old quickly, and after seeing the same generic forest theme for the hundredth time, the prospect of half an hour on hold with a Comcast technician seems not so bad by comparison.
CLEANED EVERY CLEANABLE SURFACE IN MY HOUSE: I can't think of a more redundant, repetitive task than washing a washing machine, with the exception of Dungeon Siege III's combat mechanics. There's a reason why nobody makes Diablo knockoffs anymore—everyone is waiting for Blizzard to release Diablo III and show the rest of the industry what to do next. In the meantime, clicking through the same couple of attacks a few thousand times is a little played out.
WROTE THIS COLUMN A DAY EARLY: If you had any idea how bad I am with deadlines, you'd know how serious a condemnation it is for me to actually get off my ass and write a day early just so I have no reason to keep the column's subject matter around. But that's the problem with Dungeon Siege III—it exists only as a loss of potential, to be rectified by unlucky players through return or resale at their earliest opportunity.
Speaking of which, I'm done. I plan to use some leftover Independence Day sparklers to hold a little parade for my trip to the mailbox to send Dungeon Siege III back to its only nest at some unholy Gamefly distribution center. After that, I think I'll plunge a still-burning sparkler into my eye and hope I hit the part of my brain that remembers how bad it was.