In a Mass Effect Renegade playthrough, you will have arguments with people. It gets heated and intense to the point that – sometimes – the game will make you kill the person you’re bickering with. “Wait, game,” you say. “I didn’t want to actually kill him. I just wanted to tell him what’s up.” So you re-load your save and do it right the second time. You practice a little self-restraint because the game taught you through your mistakes how to act to achieve the goal you originally wanted. This is trial-and-error gameplay, and it’s been employed since before the days of Mega Man. Alright. I’m learning, and I can do better next time. It makes sense to my logical mind.
That’s not how Dark Souls… is. Continue reading
Just this last week, it was announced that the long-awaited PlayStation 3 port of the once-Xbox-360-exclusive DLC Skyrim: Dawnguard might, due to technical issues, not be coming to the PS3 at all. The funniest part of this whole story is that Microsoft paid a boatload of money to ensure that the 360 had the first month of Dawnguard‘s release all to itself, which only served to keep it out of PC gamers’ (and modders’) hands for a few weeks. Bethesda argues that, with extra content as huge as Dawnguard, it’s just… hard to make it work. Never mind the fact that in the past they’ve added PS3 DLC for Oblivion, Fallout 3, and Fallout: New Vegas just fine, and those games are nearly as expansive as Skyrim. It sounds like if it won’t live up to internal expectations, Dawnguard won’t hit the final platform at all.
On the other side of the spectrum, we have Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition. The PC port of last year’s PS3/360 masterpiece finally landed on August 24, and it had some issues. A framerate locked at 30 FPS and 1024×720 resolution aren’t technically bad (they’re the same as the console versions, after all), but PC gamers can – and should – expect more. First of all, modern-day PCs are a lot more powerful than 7-year-old home consoles. Second of all, 1024×720 resolution for a PC is laughably bad. Like, worse than feline AIDS. It’s just terrible. So yeah, Blighttown doesn’t lag as badly (playing on PS3, I would have LOVED a solid 30 frames per second), but the game underperforms in so many ways (it also uses the horrid Games for Windows – LIVE architecture) and has been referred to as “one of the worst ports we’ve ever seen.” And these things could have been fixed/improved with a longer development time – the worst part is that From Software skipped that so they could release the game this year, as a gift for the 100,000+ fans that signed the petition to bring Dark Souls to the PC in the first place. Continue reading
You’ll see these words a lot in Dark Souls.
New area? Turn a corner, stabbed, die. Trying to get back to your dropped souls (Dark Souls‘ multi-function money/experience unit)? Fall off an awkward ledge, die. Accidentally try to cast a spell that has no charges left? Look confused at your own incompetence, die.
Eventually you hardly notice the backtracking. You explore 1% of a new area, then you fail. You get back to where you died before with fewer problems, get another 1% farther, then die again. Rinse. Lather. Repeat until you can’t take it anymore. If you’re lucky (it almost always feels like you have to be more lucky than good), you’ll reach a bonfire, one of Dark Souls‘ save/checkpoints. These are nearly always off the beaten path, frustratingly hidden in a little corner nook. A lot of people bought this game. Few will ever beat it, let alone invest the hundreds of hours necessary for that platinum trophy.
You learn to spend your Souls as soon as they are acquired. Never saving for the future, you are a lower middle-class gas station attendant receiving an unexpected inheritance from a distant relative. Easy come; easy go. But the little windfalls add up. Your level increases, quickly at first, then slowly. Your armor becomes thicker. Your sword longer, stronger. Enemies that once challenged every reflex in your body begin to fall easily. You see sights you would never expect out of a grimdark game like Dark Souls. You start to have real, actual fun.
Then you come across an enemy that seems impossible. It’s not even a boss. It’s just another random goon. Why can’t you win? Are you in the wrong area for your level? This is totally possible – Dark Souls‘ open world gameplay lets you die anywhere you want, and as soon as you’d like (especially if you snag that Master Key as your starting loot). But maybe… maybe it’s not even your fault. Continue reading