Monday, March 24, 2014

Dark Souls 2: My Obsession and Addiction


I grew up playing video games; the NES era had a lot of games that would be difficult by today’s standards. Most games on the market today are easy and focus heavily on the multiplayer element, which I can understand, but I’m not a big fan. I’m used to playing with someone sitting beside me, or braving the mighty robots of the Mega Man universe by myself.

I used to love playing the Final Fantasy games, but the last three entries have been awful, in my opinion (I’m talking about the trilogy of crap called Final Fantasy XIII). I used to love playing video games, but most games are too easy, or they’re a Call of Duty clone. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve played several games that I absolutely love, but most of the franchises I used to love (Resident Evil), suck. I have to play Suda 51 games, games most people hate, just to get something “different” out of a video game. To me, most games are the same. Open-world games usually bore me to death, unless it’s one of the Fallout games.

I remember stumbling upon an article on IGN about the ten hardest games in the last few years, and I saw Dark Souls on the list. I had no idea what it was. I bought the game for Xbox, and I obsessed over it. Absolutely obsessed over it. I felt like a teenager all over again because I spent countless hours playing it. My wife screamed at me several times. 

"IT'S A STUPID VIDEO GAME!"

"I'LL BE DONE IN A MINUTE!"

(Two hours and several deaths later...)

The game was difficult at first, sure, but once you became accustomed to the combat system, it's fairly easy. When I re-started with a different character, I wiped the floor with Smough and Ornstein, one of the hardest boss battles in the game. I beat them in one try. The game was hard, but it wasn’t impossible.

So. Dark Souls II.

I haven’t wanted to play a game this badly since Final Fantasy VIII; the release date was circled on my calendar. I’m 31 years old with two kids and a good job, but here I was, fantasizing about a forthcoming video game. I actually went out and bought at PS3 just to play Demon’s Souls, which I also loved. Dark Souls is the only game I’ve played more than once since the Resident Evil 2 days. 

There’s been a lot of hullabaloo over which Dark Souls game is better, and some people are bothered by the graphics. I feel like we’re comparing Megan Man 2 to Megan Man 3; both games are fun and challenging. I’ve read articles from several reviewers who say that Dark Souls II fails to live up to expectations because they liked the Firelink Shrine idea from the first game because the world felt “connected” to a middle place. Well, you can walk back to your “home” in Majula in Dark Souls II, but it would be a very long walk from some places. That’s not always the case, but the game certainly has a central hub. The graphics aren't perfect, but I like how the world looks "tired" and wasted. 

Human effigies are tough to come by. You can keep repairing a ring that will break every time you die, but it costs 3000 souls to fix and you have to keep warping back to the blacksmith to get it fixed—the inconvenience is enough to keep me from being reckless. 

The game world feels far more “coherent” than the last game did, despite the fact that some professional game reviewers prefer the Firelink Shrine idea. There is a bit more story, and it’s an intriguing one. The game is still mysterious.

There is certainly an emphasis on multiplayer, but I’m okay with it because I don’t have to voice chat with juveniles to enjoy it. I prefer to use a warrior so I can play with all the cool weapons, but I’ve noticed that some bosses are easier to take down with a character who can keep their distance and throw magic spells. It seems like some bosses would discourage this strategy. 

The game is a cross between Demon’s Souls and Dark Souls. I am displeased with the game’s AI, because you can easily bait some enemies to a certain point, and for whatever reason, they began to backtrack, allowing you to shoot them with your bow or hit them with something else from a distance. Enemies normally just stand there and take it when you’re pelting them with arrows from a distance. I can only imagine how hard some parts of this game would be if enemies ducked behind cover or tried to flank you. 

I usually get wasted when I’m summoned to another world by another player, but I like hanging out in the belfry, because I usually win those fights. There are different ways to approach multiplayer this time around. I’ve noticed how important the poise stat has become, and opponents with small, quick weapons can stagger you and hit you with a devastating combo as soon as they can find an opening.

I could go on and on. I love Dark Souls II. I love Dark Souls. I love Demon’s Souls. Like the old NES games, I’ll keep playing them and playing them, because the challenge is always fresh and fun. I’m embarrassed by the number of hours I’ve logged on the game since it came out. I always criticize people who sit there and play Flappy Birds and Candy Crush when they could be reading a book, and here I am… I could be WRITING a book…