Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Conquering the Darkness

I loved the game Demon's Souls, and I was excited when I heard that a sequel was being made.  Or "spiritual successor" as they called it.  All the same, Dark Souls has landed, and I have finished it, and I have enjoyed it.

I also picked up the game Rocksmith, and saw Immortals.

Demon's Souls was marketed on its difficulty.  I've got to tell you, I didn't really find it difficult.  Trying is a more appropriate word for it.  Like the Mega Man games.  Dark Souls is no different, for better or worse, but the improvements made to the game make it so much better.

I've already talked about them, so I won't go over them again.  The game follows pretty much the same formula as Demon's Souls, which is to be expected, but the game actually felt more easy to me than Demon's Souls.  It was seldom in playing this game that it took me more than 3 tries to beat any given boss.  I can really only think of  3 bosses in the game that really gave me any trouble, and only one of which that was actually difficult.  The others just got me through cheap deaths.

This game I took the same approach as I did in Demon's, where I destroyed the game with a spear, shield, and a bow.  There is an item you can get called the Hawk Ring that makes the bow and arrow option so much better, especially once you get the Black bow of Pharis.  You can seriously destroy enemies from half a world away with that combination.  Now, saying the game is not difficult doesn't mean I didn't die plenty of times.  There were lots of times that happened, but most times it was a matter of me not playing more cautiously.  And that's honestly all it takes to make this game insanely easy: patience.

But this is Dark Souls, and there are cheap deaths abound.  Bosses throwing you off ledges, enemies firing lances at you as you climb flying buttresses, the random enemy that can kill you in one hit; its all there.  But I think these things are in the game to teach you lessons rather than to punish and frustrate you.  Though the latter certainly does happen.

The multiplayer this time around is much more intricate.  There are covenants you can join in the game, and each of them have their own effect on different aspects of multiplayer and PvP, and they keep things interesting.  I joined the forest hunter covenant, because the idea of being summoned into one of the most farmed zones in the game seemed like an excellent idea.  And it was.  As I would be playing the game leveling my own character, I would randomly get called in to defeat another player that was invading a forest, and it kept PvP busy. 

One thing that made it interesting was you also have to option to join a covenant that charges you with vanquishing players who have acquired sin, and sin comes from any number of things in the game, including killing other players for whatever reason.  They have the option to use an item which indicts you, and sets you up to be invaded by players who hunt sinners.  It really keeps things interesting.

Story though, I honestly think it is less fleshed out than the first.  This game is something about a struggle between light and darkness, fought between dragons and undead, lead by 4 people who learned to harness the power of flame.  The dragons were defeated, and a hierarchy spawned somewhere among the undead, with some of them becoming gods.  The fire of the world is beginning to die out though, and a new rule of dragons is threatening.  A legend is made mention of that an undead will be chosen to rekindle the flame and prevent the darkness from taking over again.  And that's where it stops.

Obviously, you are the chosen undead, but the story never really develops beyond that point.  The game is rife with bits of lore, and there are many choices you can make throughout the game to change the world you inhabit, but the majority of all this lore is ungrounded because there is no narrative to interconnect everything in a meaningful way.

This is honestly a minor concern to me though, as this game is purely about the gameplay, and enjoy the challenge it dictates.  And the game more than aptly delivers in this manner.

As to this Rocksmith game, there isn't much to say about this game that hasn't been said about Rock Band or Guitar Hero.  This game you can play with any guitar with a pickup though, so it makes it far more accessible, and what sets it apart is that you are actually playing the songs, note for note.  Its helping me get much more familiar with my guitar, and I feel like I am gaining a functional skill from playing it, but I wouldn't go so far as to say I am learning anything, as it does nothing to teach about musical notation, timing, rhythm, meter, theory, any of that. 

Immortals 3D was an awesome movie, also.  It is what Clash of the Titans should have been, and it is just all around good fun.  I look forward to its BD release.

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