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Space Siege

There’s nothing too deep or life-encompassing about Space Siege. It is, like its goblin-bound forebear, Dungeon Siege, basically about the hack and slash. This time, however, the slash is done with an arm-mounted laser-swordfork thing, and the hack is, well, more like a blast. Grenades, electrical discharges, blazing autocannons: you’re reaping revenge as a hi-tech cyborg killer on a technology curve that would make the Terminator blush.

Yet there’s still a story unraveling amid all this carnage: you’re trapped aboard a besieged colony ship that’s miles across. Aliens are intent on wiping you out, and the collapsing ship is slowly turning into a haywire death-trap. Can you save the pockets of humans who remain alive? Just how easy it is to fight your way out of this mess will depend on how much of your humanity you’re willing to give up to cybernetic upgrades. The more machine you become, the less of a normal person you’re going to be at the end of it all. The Darth Vader conundrum, if you will. All this tricky decision-making will factor into the story - something that Gas Powered are keen to stress will make this Diablo-gone-shooty game all the more playable a second time around.

But let’s not lose sight of how immediate and easy to pick up Space Siege is intended to be. Within seconds of sitting down at the keyboard in Sega’s Brentwood HQ we were locked into the game. We were frying crawling bug-creatures with our area-of-effect electric burst, gunning down towering alien warriors as they charged towards us, and skewering the ones that came in close with our laser-fist toy. At the click of a mouse and a couple of keys, we were sending barrels flying and filling the decks with fire. It’s utterly accessible and remarkably fresh: those Gas Powered chaps sure do know their way around a videogame.

What’s more, this is a game that is reworking the familiar in entertaining ways. The donkey sidekick in Dungeon Siege was one of our favourite characters in a game, and his role is partially reprised with the arrival of a lovely orange robot who will accompany you. Like you, he’s eminently upgradeable, and you’ll be able to take tech that you’ve scavenged to either overhaul the robot, or build new variants if he gets destroyed in battle. The game gives you a hub base to return to after the fighting, so expect regular rest stops to consider quite how you’re going to spend your upgrades. Just how much cybernetic work do you want to do on your human hero? Hmm.

Space Siege hasn’t managed to do much to actually surprise us, but even five months away from release it’s solid, and totally playable. It’s not overly demanding of your PC, either. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if this game finds itself onto half the laptops in the land. It’s so familiar and welcoming that we could have sat there for hours if Sega hadn’t sent us packing. For those of you wanting something that harkens back to the loot-wars of Diablo, but who don’t want to play Titan Quest through again, this might well be the ideal game.

May 16, 2008

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