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My Dark Souls PC review.


The Hype
Dark Souls is a game that had lot of hype ready for it before its publication. PS3 players that had played Demon's Souls where so excited when the game was announced that made me think that this series was a good one. There where some gaming sites that even went far enough to say that Dark Souls would be a game much better than Skyrim,before either of these two games where even released,something that I faced with skepticism. The game was released for consoles,and after that I started hearing that this game is so unique and great,that perhaps it is the best game of this console generation. Me having not played the game and being completely unfamiliar with the series,I thought that these people where over-exaggerating. But Namco and From Software decided to eventually release the game for PCs too,so I would have a chance to play this game too,hooray!

The Port
From Software informed us that they weren't experienced enough with PCs,so the game wouldn't be as good as other games arriving in the platform. And that's how it is. The PC version of Dark Souls isn't as well handled as other games that get ported to PCs,in fact it misses many features that have come to become standards in PC gaming. An unusual thing is that the game won't render at 1:1 resolution,meaning it won't render as much pixels as your screen has.PC users are accustomed that every single piece of software that runs on their PCs,no matter if its a game,a work program,or an internet browser,will render at 1:1 resolution. But does asking for a game to render at 1:1 resolution no matter what the monitor's resolution is,is too much,and perhaps the PC gamers who ask for this are spoiled ? The truth is that it's not like that. When a picture is not rendered at 1:1 resolution,but the render resolution is lower than the monitor resolution,when that image is stretched on a monitor it gets blurry. And it's not a matter of asking 'better graphics' from the console versions,the 1:1 resolution render is about the game being working as it should. Because if the picture is so blurred you can't even read the messages on the screen,functionality goes away as you can't get the info the developers where willing to transfer to the player. The problem that comes up is as serious as the problem that some times appears on some console games,where the letters on the screen are so small you can't read them. Actually the reason for that is that these games also doesn't render at 1:1 resolution,with the difference being that the games render at a higher resolution than the monitor,making letters be too small to read. Thankfully a modder released a patch that allows the game to render on higher resolutions,so each one of us who want to play Dark Souls on PC,we can get the experience from this game that we are supposed to have. Another technical issue has to do with the frame rate. I wouldn't have a problem with the frame rate being locked at 30 frames per second,even if 30 fps IS a low frame rate,and the difference with let's say 60 fps is noticeable. The problem with the frame rate is that the game will some times drop below 30 fps,even on machines it shouldn't. It's rather awkward for me to get higher frame rates in a game like Crysis Warhead on Very High graphical settings,than in Dark Souls,considering Crysis Warhead is so "heavy" it can't even run on consoles,yet Dark Souls is a console game with absolutely nothing added to it that would make it heavier. What From Software said was true,they can't produce a PC game up to the platform's standards.

Ignoring the Technical Issues and Seeing Dark Souls for what it is.
To be honest in the beginning I was annoyed a bit about the technical issues. I finally did some workaround and applied some fixes,and I got the game playable on a reasonable resolution,with a frame rate I can withstand. Now I can finally forget technical things and get to learn what Dark Souls is all about,how it plays,and why it is so important!
I'll write one thing,and get it well inside your mind: THE MORE YOU PLAY DARK SOULS THE BETTER IT GETS. When I started the game I felt like I was lost. The tutorial was bare bones and skipped much needed information,I didn't knew how to equip my weapons,my attack registration seemed to suffer from latency from times to times,resulting in me getting dead,enemies kill me easily in seconds,I can't save whenever I want,and I can't even pause the game! The first hours in Dark Souls where my hardest and most frustrating. I got to think that I'd never finish this game,that it didn't worth it. I felt like I was wasting my time playing it. But I felt I had to give it more chances. And I'm glad I did,because this game might be sadistic and unfair many times,but it is rewarding. I got to learn how to do things I must do by googling and searching on the forums. Perhaps I should have to go through this,but anyway,I did 'cause I didn't wanted to have this game sit on my disc without me playing it after spending some fresh money for it. So I learnt how to equip my weapons and armor and I started fighting. After an hour or two I realized that there wasn't technical latency on my attacks,no,this was a game mechanic. When my stamina got too low,my character wouldn't attack until a portion of his stamina is back up again. A lot of frustration could have been avoided,if the game had a proper tutorial telling you that. After a few hours I also got used to the game's saving system. The game automatically saves whenever you sit on a 'bonfire'. Which means each time you want to save you have to go back to these fires and sit. But every time you do that,all the enemies come back to life and respawn,so you will have to kill all of them again!
That's not just to make your life harder,instead it's a mechanic to help you level up. Because in Dark Souls you will have to grind and farm enemies to get souls, so that you can buy things and level up.
It works like in your average MMO. There are areas for higher-leveled characters than you,so your progress gets halted until you grind enough to level up,and then go there.The problem is this game isn't branded as an MMO,and the reason I never get in to World of Warcraft and all the other MMOs out there is because I hate grinding and enemy farming,because I hate repetition. Dark Souls is a game that will surprise you,many times.

It is hard for me to tell if this game has good graphics or not. The reason is that some things on this game look very nice,while others look bad. Some of the backgrounds and textures reminded me games like The Witcher 2 and got me surprised,yet some other things like some low resolution 2d trees,reminded me the graphics of games like Castlevania from the Nintendo 64,and surprised me even more. In general the game's graphics are neither good or bad,they are average,but there will be some times that a scene will look so marvelous you will wonder how a PS3 game can have visuals like that, and other times you will get surprised on how some very old looking textures and models got in.

Dark Souls is good on the sound aspect. It's nothing special,don't expect to find the next memorable theme you will want to listen even when you aren't playing the game here,but you will never get annoyed by the music either. The sound effects are generally nice and do their job well.

The first thing I have to point out about the controls of Dark Souls is this: Get an xbox360 controller. The game is unplayable with mouse and keyboard,so forget about it.If you have a controller but it's not an xbox360 controller,then make sure that its button layout and naming is exactly the same as xbox360's controller,or else you will have serious problems. Because the game at all times assumes you play with an xbox360 controller,so the button prompts that show up on the screen tell you to push this particular controller's buttons. If you have an xbox360 controller,then still you will find out that controls aren't as responsive as they should. Think about that: You press the attack button while you are out of stamina. Your character won't attack though because you doesn't have stamina. That doesn't mean that your character won't attack at all,he will,but when stamina goes back up enough so he can attack. But by the time stamina will be regenerated enough so your character can attack,the enemy will probably already have moved to another direction,charging his own attack,so you will end up hitting the air,while the enemy is slashing his sword through your intestines. Another bad thing is that your character's attack animations are too slow in comparison with the animations of the enemies. So lets say you are on a hot battle,and you press the attack button to attack.But the movement of your character is so slow you think the action wasn't registered,so you push the button again. By the time your character's attack animation is FINALLY initiated,you already have pressed the attack button 3-4 times because it was unresponsive,but for all the times you pressed the button,your character will attack even if its much later on,which leads to initiating unwanted combos of attacks,that leads you to death,because you didn't timed the attacks appropriately. When I started the game about 60% of my deaths was because of unresponsive controls. Now I have got used to it,and I tend to realize when the game registers my attacks or not,so now only about 30% of my deaths are because of controls not working as intended.
I don't know if controls are like that in purpose,or if they just doesn't work well,assuming this game is made by sadistic developers who want to punish the players every way possible,the more the merrier...

Now I'm a Badass! Or Maybe Not.
Even after all these frustrations though,the game is compelling. There are many things that you will consider annoyances,but there is nothing you can't get used to. Assuming you have the patience to keep trying and fighting the game's awkward design choices and mechanics,you will find out that this game gets better and better as you play it. In the beginning you will feel like shit,but as you play you will feel more and more like a badass. The game will punish you,but then reward you with a unique weapon,or a secret hidden room with a bonus,or by giving you power. As you play the enemies you thought so hard suddenly become wimps and you eat them for breakfast,which makes you feel the most powerful being in the area.But that's until you get to the next area,or you meet the next 4 stories tall boss that will instantly kill you with a single attack,while he is not even visible on your screen... Dark Souls alternates your feelings and changes your mood with a unique pace. At first it makes you feel week,so you can value power later on.Then it gives you the power to feel like a badass. Then it presents you a new enemy type that makes you drop like a fly,and feel like the weakest person on the planet again! It's this alternating feel that gets you addicted to this game. It's like a drug. You get to feel how it is to be "high",so you can like it. Then it takes it away from you,making you to ask for more,and crave for it,so you can do even more things to get that feeling again. Then it gives you more than that.Then it takes it away from you again...
Dark Souls is a huge game and it will take tens of hours to be finished. But even then,there are players who have completed 5-6 playthroughs. It's not without reason. These people are addicted to Dark Souls as I am now. Dark Souls might not be that shiny and beautiful gem that will make you wanna have it,in fact it doesn't even matter for it to look nice.But you get to hear about it from people... And once you fall in to its trap and give it a chance and start playing it,it will steal your soul and get you addicted in playing it again and again,and again!
Dark Souls is a unique game. It isn't for everyone,but for those who are in to it,it will give them an experience no other game has ever given them.
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About Stavros StevieGreek Dimouone of us since 1:27 PM on 08.29.2012