As in Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance and other co-op action RPGs in this vein, the combat isn't demanding or unforgiving. Instead, it has a very clear goal in mind: to be playable no matter how much attention you are giving it.
With the exception of a handful of tough fights spread throughout the game, it's possible to go tumbling through Dungeon Siege III with half of your brain playing and the other half chatting idly to your co-op partner. You simply tap away at the attack button, dodge on those occasions when you see an attack being aimed in your direction, and fall back and use your healing ability when you're hurt.
But don't think this means that Dungeon Siege III is a brain-dead game. It's just an adaptive one. Because your character has up to 11 abilities, as well as charged versions of each of those, and each is best used in a slightly different scenario, trying to play Dungeon Siege III perfectly is a totally absorbing dance of glossy particle effects, small victories and even smaller failures.
If you play on Normal, you're never in too much danger of dying, but you'll have plenty of occasions where you spot at the last second that your health bar is a shred of its full self - and you'll duck out of the fight sucking air through your teeth the whole way.
Dungeon Siege III is, as the recent incredibly creepy TV ad expressed, a single-sofa co-operative game at heart. There's support for up to four-player online co-op too, which unfortunately I wasn't able to try, but I'd imagine would be awesome.
However, if you want to play Dungeon Siege III through solo, you'll have a good time. After the game's opening chapter, it gifts lone players with an AI co-op partner who's more than capable. They'll die every so often and need you to revive them, and when you die they'll keep fighting for a while before they abruptly notice that you've fallen and can't get up, but I don't mind that. These are human failings. So long as my AI partner isn't being confounded by a wall, I'm happy - and the pathfinding here is flawless.
So is the treatment of levelling up. No fannying around spending points on mysterious statistics like "Will" and "Agility" here. You get a point that you can spend upgrading one of your abilities in one of two ways, and you get another point you can spend on a permanent buff for your character. Maybe you'll also get a new ability to choose from. That's it. Clean, simple, satisfying.
Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the game's equipment system, which is something of a let-down and exactly where those mysterious statistics like "Will" and "Agility" make their sad appearance. Nobody likes you, weird stats! Go home!
Here's how loot works in Dungeon Siege III: you nudge open a slug egg or pile of bones and something called Brave Pants fall out. They look the same as your existing pants. You open up the equipment screen. They seem worse than your existing pants, and so you leave them there, in your growing collection of pants that look the same as your current pants but instead of offering +4 attack, +2 armour and +4 Chaos: Doom they offer entirely different buffs, like +4 will and +5 block.
It's miserable. Fortunately, it's easily fixed by opening your equipment menu once every 30 minutes and simply equipping the most expensive item you have in each category.
It's also the only failure in an otherwise smart action RPG that boasts such good combat that it doesn't matter if the loot, traditionally the heart of these games, is disappointing. In fact, it's so good that I think I'm going to go back and play it right now.
You hear that, Reinhart? Cinch up that Belt of Quickness of yours and let's get moving. I've got a hunch that there are some monsters just down the road.
8 / 10