33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
It's time to die again! and again..and.. could go on all day,
This review is from: Dark Souls II (Xbox 360) (Video Game)
I never played Demon Souls and nearly missed Dark Souls 1 thanks to Skyrim overshadowing it greatly, but thankfully I got it and enjoyed many hours of grim and foreboding exploration, death and elation with a 180+ level character, buying the prepare to die edition too. I was always excited for this game and having a new grim world full of menacing creatures and bosses to explore. So I managed to get the money together to order the black armour edition on Wednesday, and got it on Thursday! (from The Game Collection as it was sold out literally everywhere) It has a very nice metal case with soundtrack, VIP Namco Bandai pass and black edition weapons.
The short summary is, it's as hard and as highly enjoyable as Dark Souls 1, so you've nothing to fear if you've pre-ordered. In fact it's very similar which is great, but there is a good number of minor changes which have refined and improved the Dark Souls gameplay, and that's what I'll mostly be addressing.
If you haven't played Dark Souls before, it's very similar to Zelda, you lock onto enemies, block with one trigger, strike with the other, can do evasive rolls and a jump attack. You go through a series of connected areas and into main dungeon like places with bosses and such, It's an old skool RPG at it's heart, but unlike Zelda much darker and harder.
If I be honest, some of the textures aren't wonderful, they've been compared to late PS2 era (though we all know visuals don't make or break a game necessarily, especially Dark Souls) However at the same time some visuals are better than DS1. The lighting is notably better, for instance using a torch in darkened areas, the sunlight in the distance reflecting off the sea and such. The shimmer on some armour and weapons. There is now fabric texture like capes that move and tattered clothing which was absent in DS1 and much wanted (in fact it's part of a starting outfit)
The creatures look brilliant though as ever just as the desolate and grim land before you, what this game lacks in GTAV/Hitman Absolution visuals, it definitely makes up for in it's lighting and art direction. The weapons and armour also varies nicely. Even being undead looks more realistic this time round, more akin to a zombie. Also to point out, the character creation is a hundred times better, it's very in depth and allows you to make a normal and nice looking character with some decent anime-esque hairstyles, or if you wish you can make a creepy looking b******. (In DS1 my character looked like kim jong un but with brown Richard the 2nd hairstyle..) You'll be wearing a helmet most the time but always an important part, as you probably can't change it after. Also and the frame rate is really smooth, remember Blighttown and that ghastly swamp? no more freeze framing here or not that I've encountered any. Even with many things happening on screen and large areas, so this is good. There's no denying though From Software ripped everyone off showing great visuals and not of the real ones that we have now, it's scammy and unfair.
SOUND FX: 10/10
I can't really put the sound or BGM at fault, I'm using some headphones plugged into my guitar amp (don't ask) and everything sounds crisp and authentic. Striking weapons against many different breakable objects or clashing against an enemy, the high pitched clink or metal against metal or rock. The the fearsome monstrosities and even environmental effects like the wind and waves, a tree falling and hitting the dirt hard, all good.
Most notable is the music and the NPC's. With the black armour edition and collectors you'll get a music CD with it. But it you played DS1, expect more harrowing yet wonderful operatic and dark music as you take on large bosses and dangers. Most the time there isn't music, but like in the central hub; Maluja (DS2's own Firelink Shrine) a subtle and delicate piano BGM will play with the sun and sea in the background showing you it's a brief refuge. With NPC's you again have very fitting idiosyncratic British voices, which are often worn, sincere and non pretentious. Being English it reminds me of Fable and I love the voice talent used.
Here's the long part. If you haven't played DS1 you know it's old skool RPG like Zelda, if you have played DS1 here's the differences:
Bonfires - You no longer level up at these, instead by talking to a women in the central hub called Herald Emerald. But you can from the start use the warp action (once you've visited a bonfire it'll be available)
HUD/UI - It's not a mess anymore, if you want to find a weapon, you don't have to scroll down the menu for 1 minute through a messy list of everything. The item box is here from the start and everything is in a row of neat categories, selecting a category opens a drop down of the times. The other menu's and stats screen aren't too different but overall nicer to navigate, you can also see your character in real time and move around which is handy as you cannot pause once again. Also your D-pad down item now has a lil box next to it showing the next item which is handy.
Kick - You no longer kick, you take a step forward and almost backhand? it makes it harder to break someones guard.
Movement - Movement speed feels faster which I love, back peddling while blocking isn't that fast but jogging around with moderate weight gear and sprinting especially looks like you're really darting forward.
Jump - B can be used to jump or the new clicking Left Stick, changeable in the menu.
Estus Flask - When you get it early, you'll have 1 use..yep! just 1. You must find Estus shards and speak to the Herald Emerald to upgrade it's uses. In the mean time you'll be using Lifegem's which once absorbed slowly refill your health, again making the game more challenging.
Stats - Vitality now governs your equipment load, and vigor governs your overall HP. Also new is Agility which is next to Poise, it governs your evasion and action speed.
Orange Soapstone - You no longer write messages with it, instead it's a drop down category from your menu, it's more convenient I guess, and there's more options to write better messages, or more than one word. So don't spend an hour looking for the soapstone! check your menu.
White Soapstone - It actually works! at a given time you may see many summon signs and people can join you and vice versa. You'll also know very quickly if you can join rather than having to wait for 20 seconds as fog gates appear and a mystical whirling sound plays. This is great as, DS1's summon system was just frustrating.
Invasions - Even if you are hollow/undead other players can invade your world this time round, you're never safe now. Well unless you join the way of the blue.
Lock-on options - You can use auto lock-on to a new enemy once an enemy has died, and once an enemy has been attacked.
Covenants - There's a good few in this game, ranging from similar ones to in DS1 (way of the blue are blue sentinels who help invaded players. Some covenants will likely give unique abilities, equipment, invasion items, but I've yet to discover these all so will update.
Death - You no longer use humanities, you use a similar item, a little wood straw thing called an Effigy. But in this game if you go hollow and then keep dying as a undead, your total HP will be stunted and lowered, also you will look more rotted with additional deaths. An interesting new feature apparently from Demon Souls, making the game just that but more difficult.
Two Handed - Pressing Y uses a right handed weapon with two hands, holding Y uses the left handed weapon with two hands which is great, You can two hand a shield if you want and bash people with it.
Inventory - Now you can equip 3 weapons per hand, and upto 4 rings which with the other new debilitating additions to gameplay makes the difficulty just as fair. And the game more enjoyable, considering you can't pause, no one wants to try swapping their big weapon for a bow in mid battle.
Critical Hit - Remember people would spam this? now it's a little trickier, NPC's for instance will move around as you do so getting behind them takes some effort i.e waiting til they attack and moving quickly. The critical hit didn't seem to land when I parried with a shield. But now it's a awesome combo if done from behind.
Falling - It's not different, you'll fall to your death more than anything else, again, just wanted to say.
Pyromancer - No longer a class, but you can get and upgrade a pyromancy flame with attacks.
Spells - Dark magic, sunlight, and mircacles allpretty much make a return along with staffs.
Falling - Maybe this is just earlier on in the game, maybe not. But falling seems to impact your health more than in DS1, there's even a ring from Echanté? ( a cat) to help reduce it. So if you want to risk jumping to a platform below, be weary.
More destructible environment - Doors can be opened or broken, planks, barrels, rocks, we all like randomly breaking and cutting objects, so a more tangible environment is great.
(I may update this section if I come across more new features, though no more cross my mind)
The PVP is a bit dodgey and unfair though. I attacked someone and whilst several meters away they were still attacking me in the back and killed me, at one point invisible. Many times people will land critical back stabs when you have your shield to them the whole time, you can smash people with a very powerful weapon and they won't even stumble with their default armour and kite shield. Some things are weird and unfair, making it frustrating, will these be fixed, who knows.. Connecting to games is better but also bad, many times you'll lose connection to xbox live for no reason, or when a game fails to load (invasion etc) you have to quit and re load your save in order to enable summons and everything again.
I haven't fully completed this game yet, but to be honest from what I can gather the story is just as vague as in DS1. From Software intentionally want the player to feel lost on this quest and piece together the story for their self via small tid bits of information. The jist is, you're a person with a curse meaning you are stuck as undead unable to die. And Have ended up in Drangleic in search of a cure, and according to the old women narrating, this will eventually pit you against a powerful king.
It's a very good and enjoyable game, there's changes that refine the game, and ones that make it more difficult, together along with the new locations, creatures, weapons, armour and story. It's enough to give everyone the fresh DS experience they want, but without too much of a departure from what they love. So have fun dying! Just remember they ripped us off with the downgraded visuals and the connections can be weird. PVP can be cheaty and unfair.
And for your amusement, here's how I've died so far:
- Head eaten by cyclops x 3
- Stomped to death by 'Last of the Giants' boss x 1
- Ganged upon and hacked to death by hollows - x 4?
- Rolled off top of a castle rampart into oblivion x 2
- Rolled off castle rampart onto a dead tree x 1
- Headbutted to death by a tough fire lizard x 2
- Knocked off edge into water by Dragonrider boss x 5
- Smashed to death by stone giant with hammer x 1
- Exited because of discarding rather than leaving Silky the crow my stone x 1
- knocked off giant sword statue into water x 1
(though proud to say so far I've avoided all traps!)
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 15 Mar 2014 17:02:34 GMT
Great review, my only concern is that you've only expired 21 times. I know it will be more - many more - by the time you finish. So do you, heh heh, I'm off to get mine...
Posted on 15 Mar 2014 22:19:47 GMT
Ryan Thecat says:
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2014 04:24:01 GMT
B. white says:
Wrong, it's not misleading, everything in it is factual.
Amiga? some in this game are very good. It's really not something one should be complaining about though, it's a brilliant game and I said it's visual strong point lies in the art direction of environment and creatures etc.
In reply to an earlier post on 20 Mar 2014 04:34:25 GMT
B. white says:
Thank you! I appreciate that.
And I was doing great, but my death rate has rocketed since this review haha.
I think I've fallen to my death probably a hundred times? And some areas and bosses! Death magnet areas would be:
- The foggy forest with ghosts in The Shaded Woods.
- The tight areas full of Royal Swordsman in The Lost Bastille.
- The back areas of The Lost Bastille with exploding dead things.
- That damn spider boss and surrounding Brightstone Cove Tseldora (a boulder even squashed me).
- The Royal Rat Authority.
- And the worst place so far.. The Gutter and Black Gulch, because falling in the dark.
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