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Monday, April 28, 2014

Dark Souls 2 - PC Review 9.7/10

Never have I been so excited to die again and again and again.

For me, Dark Souls was one of those games I never got. Dying was frustrating, the game was buggy and PvP was a nightmare... but I kept coming back. There was some sort of sadistic pull that made me want to return. This game isn't like that. The game is thoroughly enjoyable, the graphics are amazing and the game runs about as smooth as melted butter.

The Good: Visuals are gorgeous, and plentiful. Dark Souls was pretty much just shades of bleh to hurk. From the first step, I see darkness and a beacon of light. Further in and the light leads to a gorgeous vista. The game is al about style in the visual sense.
The enemies are really good. Sure, some of the cheap deaths return. But ultimately the AI has improved significantly. Backing up when during 1v1 duels they're loosing, seeing an opening while you're healing and taking it. Before, enemies just threw themselves at you. Now, it seems like they've got two brain cells to rub together. One tough enemy was the Heide Knight. Since it was early on I was weak and only back stabs were effective but he had a special attack to deter me. Simply put, you have to learn enemy patterns to exploit them.
More healing items than just an Estus Flask? YES. Before, all you could hope was to have a Faith based character and some healing spells. Now you have perfectly balanced healing items you can buy or farm from enemies in the game. Now, you have a variety of ways to stay alive.
Every build is viable, even dual wielding. If you know how to use your class, you will have no trouble kicking ass. Sorcerors can now cast faster as well as Clerics. Strength builds are to be reckoned with and even Archers are now viable. Before there were good classes and niche classes only suitable for bragging online with. Now even shields are viable weapons.
The amount of exploration is very nice. Before, I was stuck dying strategically just to try and find the best way forward. Now I can leave if things get too hairy via fast travel. I know some people have been complaining about this feature, but no one says you have to use it. Its just an option that I like having. One of my biggest problems with the previous game was an area called Anor Londo. In which, after one of the easiest boss fights in the game, the difficulty ramps up to the extreme which makes the rest of the game feel a bit like a slide in which now the rough part is over you just seem to be gliding. It didn't help at all that Anor Londo was the place you would receive your fast travel for the rest of the game. A nice addition despite what people, fans and purists may say.
The game runs so smoothly. "But what about graphics?!" Graphics don't mean crap if the game is too choppy to play, and this does both well. I haven't had a single framerate issue on my 3 year old PC after defeating three different bosses in two different areas.

The Bad: The Emerald Herald is a decent character, but the game is doing its damnedest to make you feel she's important. From leveling up not only your character but also your main replenishable healing item, she just screams 'I am important'. In fact, Majula in itself (the hub world where she resides) is also too important. There's this item that drops fairly early in game that allows you to strengthen your Estus Flask's power. In order to take its benefits, you have to, and only can, burn it in that bonfire at Majula. The entire area just screams its importance.

The Meh: I've been hearing it a lot and I agree. Combat seems floaty. Your character just seems to kind of be standing on this invisible cloud as do you enemies. The reason this isn't bad is because it makes combat run smoother, but it has to be mentioned.
I've actually found one bug that seems to continue on and on. I don't remember the name of the area, but its the poisoned bog. There are a few enemies riding on the backs on these large humaniods and they fire 1-hit KO dark blasts. Sometimes, they'll fly in the air, just randomly, not even as a tactic. I haven't encountered many bugs but I just thought it was worth mentioning.
The way is... distorted. I don't mean that in a sense of the lore but from the stand point you don't really have a clear idea of where to go. Its nice being able to choose your own path but not when that path is unclear. For instance, I went into the castle area after you get on the ship. The boss in the castle, three bosses at the same time I should say, were all so massively overpowered to me, I ran through my Estus Flasks and died as soon as one of them was ended... with help. Dark Souls has always been hard but fair, and with the paths being so non linear its hard to tell when its being hard or I'm in the wrong area.

If you've never played a game in the Souls series, this is definitely the one to start with. Fine polished, fair enough so that newcomers can get in without feeling overwhelmed at the start and it has enough explanation to where fans of the genre can appreciate the changes made to both the combat and other mechanics, as well as fine tuned tweaks that you may glance over your first playthrough.

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