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A system of cells interlinked
I am a fair way into DS2 now, and enjoying it immensely. However... I have a couple of of small nitpicks that knock it down a peg or two in comparison to the original, which IMO is still the best action RPG ever made.

- Bonfire Teleport: Well, boo. This seemed like a really good idea to me at first, but it has only served to reduce the oppressive feeling of the game. I rarely have that "I need to stay alive at all costs and get to X or I am in big trouble." I am always just one waypoint away from safety now, and the fires are closer together and more frequent. When pondering why they made the change, I am led to the next issue..

- World Design: It isn't apparent at first, as you need to progress quite a ways before the absolute genius of the world design in DS1 becomes clear, but once it all clicks and you figure out that Lordran, as a whole, exists as one giant interconnected world, it's just totally mind-blowing to me. All the tiny shortcuts, ladders, elevators, bridges, passages and all the rest all connect together like some living MC Escher construct. The only time you have to "warp" or "zone" in the game is from the tutorial castle to the mainland, and a short Gargoyle ride from the top of Sen's Fortress to Anor Londo. The Gargoyle thing doesn't even count, as you still don't warp in that instance, you just get carried over a wall and dropped, still in the same physical space. I can't recall a game before or since that was put together with that level of genius in such a compelling way.

Sadly, Drangleic is not put together this way. DS2 is more like Demon Souls, in that the levels are sort of divided up into little groups that you progress through, afterward warping back to the central hub to then head off along a different path that leads to another 3-4 zones. The zones on each "spoke" are interconnected, but not on a level with the twisted genius of Lordran. I presume the changing out of the director on the project is the culprit here, along with the idea of blending Demon and Dark Souls into a sort of amalgam of the two games.

The zones, on a whole, are just as creative and atmospheric when looked at in a vacuum, the challenge just as punishing, the fights just as calculated and exciting, but it just doesn't all fit together in the elegant way that Lordran did, which in turn makes the feel of the world come across as a little senseless now and then. You can tell when you run into a spot where the designers couldn't quite get the world to click together the way they wanted, so they tacked a long, narrow tunnel in between zones, so it seems a bit less jarring when you leave a misty dank forest only to emerge next to a castle floating on lava. I still find it a bit jarring.

That's it really - everything else is aces, and there are MANY improvements, like a nice frame rate in every zone. Any poor soul that battled through Blight Town on Xbox in DS1 knows how painful progression could be. These games are difficult enough without the console fighting you, too! DS2 is a smoother experience, but just not QUITE as brilliant in its design.
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Young Skywalker. Missed you, I have...
Just bought Arkham Origins for my PS3. I like it. It isn't GTA5, which is what I wanted. Origins was second on my list. They didn't have GTA5 at the store I shop at. I will probably wait and let the price drop some more on 5 before I buy it.
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A system of cells interlinked
@Taccy - Yea, I got through Forest of Giants pretty quickly, so didn't run into too many despawn issues, but Heide's Tower was a different story....Pretty sure I can run anywhere without a fight on that level now!



The People's Republic of Clogher
seds - Playing DS2 made me revisit DS1 (and give it a more serious try this time) and I came to the conclusion that you and a few other people seem to think: Dark Souls 1 is ultimately the better game.

Funny you should mention the framerate on 360. I originally got the game for PS3 and performance is awful. There are constant stutters and pop-ins and things dip well below 30 far too often for my liking. Before I bought the game I really should have read some comparison reviews (even though my 360 is boxed up, I've decided to keep it) because the 360 version seems to run a LOT better. Apparently overall fidelity isn't quite at PS3 levels and there is some screen tearing but you don't have the stutters and framerate drops.

It's solid as a rock on PC though. I can run it at 60 downsampled from 4k (which gives you an appreciable detail upgrade) with tons of post processing effects and mods but, even so, I'd have loved it if From gave us higher quality textures to begin with. Lots of areas still look disappointingly 'flat' in comparison to DS1 and I can only put that down to From having to remove the dynamic lighting model due to performance concerns.

As a port, DS2 is soooo much better than DS1 but that only brings it up to the minimum level we expect.
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"Critics are like eunuchs in a harem; they know how the Tatty 100 is done, they've seen it done every day, but they're unable to do it themselves." - Brendan Behan



A system of cells interlinked
DS2 feels bigger to me, and I am still not into the second half of the game. DS2 also has some amazing views from some high place, where I will just hang out and take it all in before heading off to get my ass handed to me again.

A friend that finished both games says that DS2 only gets stronger as you go along, while the last act of DS1 was admittedly just not as good as the first two-thirds of the game, with a couple of zones (Demon Ruins/Tomb of Giants/Catacombs) being outright slogs to get through. Another guy ssid that he was leaning toward giving DS2 a slightly unfavorable review, but said that all changed as he progressed along and got further in.

DS2 does a ton right though. A non-gamer friend stopped by as I was playing, and after 10 minutes of watching, said "man, this game is pretty atmospheric, it is making me kind of nervous!" Areas like Huntsman Copse and No Man's Wharf are dripping with atmosphere. They really nailed some areas!



A system of cells interlinked
One more thing: The multiplayer in DS2 is leaps and bounds better, both is technical integration and fun factor. As you know, I have my goofy little hard mode rules I set up for myself, and one of my rules is that i fight and beat all content solo. In DS1; this meant I could NEVER Co-op. I played DS1 for hundreds of hours and was never able to coop any fight, ever, because after you beat a boss, multi-player in that zone shut off. The change to leaving Multiplayer live after a bosses death has me fighting each boss multiple times - once solo and then plenty of jolly coop! What fun it has been, too, and I am now a Sun-bro (well Sun-sis in this case) because I can actually Coop and collect the medals this time. I like the deeper RPG elements in DS2 more as well... What the game lost in overall brilliance of design, it gained in RPG and multiplayer elements for me.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Yep, there's an atmosphere to all the Souls games that just stays with you, deep inside. I never played any of the King's Field games (From's earlier outings) save from half an hour on the first one (might have been KF2, now that I think on it, but he had a chipped PSX so it could conceivably have been the first game) on a friend's PS1 in the 90s and, from what I remember, they were going for the same kind of aesthetic but just didn't have the hardware to make it immersive.

EDIT - Yep, it was King's Field II. The first game was Japan only so KF2 was released in the West as King's Field, KF3 became KF2 etc.



A system of cells interlinked
I played King's Field 2! The difficulty was there, that's for sure - that game was hard, But yeah, VERY rudimentary textures etc. made for a rather bleak (and short) adventure. Wow, I hadn't thought about that game in forever!

Man, I logged out of DS2 in some random passage in the dark waaaaaaaaay down deep in the ground. There were spooky sounds and weird shapes in the dark. I logged out and went and hid under my bed.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Was it this one?



Pretty sure that's what I played. Man, early 3D hasn't aged well.

SNES-era pixels and sprites look fine today, although that's probably down to the number of Indie games which use that style so it's never gone out of fashion. I don't think the look of mid-90s games will ever make a comeback.



A system of cells interlinked
My eyes!!!!

Yeah, that's the one!

EDIT: And another thing!! Crystal lizards! These lil bastards are much tough to corner and kill in DS2...I think i have only successfully gotten the loot from ONE lizard so far...



The People's Republic of Clogher
Heh, I killed my first one today! I wasn't finding them tough to kill, just that they run and disappear much more quickly in DS2 and seem totally immune to two-handed strikes. I was determined to get the little bugger (in the room close to the elevator you descend to kill the Last Giant) so kept nipping back to the bonfire to reload him.

Eventually I went one-handed and managed to catch up to him before he disappeared into the wall. I got a Titanite shard.



A system of cells interlinked
Yeah, that's what I meant - they scamper off quickly and then vanish! I managed to get another in Grave of Saints, but eventually gave up on the one in Huntsman Copse...

I am deep down in The Gutter now... torch required!



Quick programming note: I'll be streaming SpyParty with a friend of mine for, like, 5+ hours on Saturday, May 31st. We're just gonna play each other like 150 times, or however many we get in. Should be goofy fun to check in on now and again.



Starting around 3:00 PM ET. I'll post the link here that day in case anyone feels like poking in. I expect it might get either weird or oddly competitive or both after the first hour or two.



The People's Republic of Clogher
Funnily enough, I downloaded the latest Spy Party build a few days ago. Will this be the time I actually summon up enough courage to play it? Only time will tell.

Transistor is broken, by the way. Constant stuttering when you enter battles, which seems to be a widespread issue.

Hopefully it'll be patched soon but releasing a game in that state (the people complaining have all kinds of specs on their PCs so it doesn't seem specific to an OS or graphics setup) is pretty poor form, especially one which won't push your machine's capabilities very much.



Funnily enough, I downloaded the latest Spy Party build a few days ago. Will this be the time I actually summon up enough courage to play it? Only time will tell.
It's got some cool new maps, missions, and Replays now. But it's still inaccessible and very deep. At this point, to play it, you probably either a) want to play with a friend so you can have a lot of fun with it and/or learn together, or b) decide to put in a lot of effort to get good at it. Not a lot of inbetween right now. But the community remains insanely friendly and helpful, if you ever take the plunge, and I'd be glad to help wrangle opponents and mentors and whatnot (standing offer for any other MoFo, of course).

The "Let's Play" videos for it are largely the former, with people treating it like a total mind game ("Would he pick Top Hat guy three times in a row?! BANG!"). Which is amusing to watch but obviously not the game's strength. But that can be enough to make the first several dozen games enjoyable.

No shame in just hanging onto it until something more polished comes along, though. Speaking of which, we should have concept art for the next five characters this week, and it sounds like they'll be playable in time for PAX, which means, combined with the five we have now, they're planning on having all ten in a (hopefully) playable new map environment by then. Which is a big step because the one we have now is more of an art demo, not really suitable for competitive play.



Still not sure if I'm going to PAX to help work the SpyParty booth this year, but I'm gonna try.



You want to post like me?
So! Windborne! Anyone? Looks like a really cool, shiny, 3D Minecraft. And I got this swanky new laptop to play it on. It runs everything!
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The People's Republic of Clogher
Dunno how 'early' the Early Access on Windbourne is and I've become really choosy about buying what is basically a demo or statement of intent. The devs need to have a track record, basically.

Then again, Godus is made by Peter Molyneux and it's an awful pile of dung...



A system of cells interlinked
Ok, now THAT looks interesting, because it is more aesthetically pleasing to my eye. I just can't get past Minecraft's busted looking graphics.