Dark Souls PS3 Review

Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to the 2009 PS3 exclusive RPG game, Demon's Souls. After playing through Demon's Souls 3 times, I couldn't resist getting my hands on its sequel (although the only similarity is the 'Souls' name). After having my expectations raised (thankyou Demon's Souls) I really had high hopes for this game before I got it and let me just say it now, this game does not disappoint.

Whether it be exploring a lonely, desolate forest to a beautifully structured castle, the environments in Dark Souls have been professionally constructed to the point where the environments can be appreciated thanks to the tremendous amount of detail From Software have incorporated into this magnificent, fictional world - so much so infact that an awful lot of this game's locations are memorable such as Anor Londo, Darkroot Garden and the Undead Asylum. Because of this, Dark Souls has a respectable characteristic other games lack nowadays, this is one of the contributing factors that help Dark Souls shine in comparison to the competition. In addition to this unique world, both the enemy design and the soundtrack aid this game become mind-mindbogglingly immersible which means rather than spending the expected one hour on this game, you will be playing it for about double that time during your first play of the game. This leads me onto the feel of the game. Dark Souls will last you around 50 hours to complete once, thats right, not a 6 hour storyline like some games this generation (Call of Duty in-particular), this game will last you around 50 hours. With a very steep learning-curve thanks to the game's style (it doesn't hold your hand, in the world of Dark Souls you're alone)nothing is greater than success; whether it be beating a boss or traversing a section of the game you've been working on for a while, the gratification Dark Souls offers in success is huge; this will make you want to keep on playing, making you a Dark Souls addict thus; keeping you coming back for more. In addition to this, once completed you enter NG+ (the + symbolizing the amount of times you've completed the game so it can be NG+++++ as an example) the game's difficulty increases to keep the enemy AI at the same level as you're character's ability, making it worth playing a few times rather than completing a single playthrough then leaving the game on the shelf forever more.

One thing that really stands out in Dark Souls is the soundtrack that accompanies the sometimes chilling boss-battles. Bosses in Dark Souls are classified as a stronger-than-usual enemy of which stands out due to it's characteristics making it unique in comparison to other standard enemies. As I just mentioned, the soundtrack compliments the boss battles perfectly (usually reflecting the setting/mood of the boss you're fighting) helping raise the level of immersion and giving you a better feeling whilst battling these infamous characters. As an example, I recommend you check out this song from the Dark Souls soundtrack:[...]
This example reflects the chilling reality of the boss you're battling, all captured perfectly in a musical piece - simply beautiful!

The difficulty of Dark Souls has received critical acclaim for being a difficult however; the reality is once you've learned how to play the game, you will be ok. To succeed in Dark Souls the best thing to do is to learn enemy patterns, with this in mind, once you identify enemy attack patterns then the game will ask for your concentration of which leads on to success. If you are at all worried about the difficulty then fear not, at any point in the game you can summon either an AI character or a real player to help you on boss battles or you can battle them. Thanks to this feature, nobody has an excuse to get caught out on boss battles because you can summon up to 2 other people to help you defeat bosses, additionally, the people who hang around waiting to get summoned usually have good weapon sets and skill increasing your chances of success when battling a boss with either a online player or AI character. With this in mind, I wouldn't worry about the difficulty at all when debating a purchase of this game; if you've never played a game such as Dark Souls then I guarantee that you'll pick it up within a couple of hours worth of play, the game starts off with easy enemies the the difficulty gradually increases as your character develops and progresses through the game.

The controls in Dark Souls offer ease and are well-mapped to work with the Playstation 3 controller. Although not as good as something such as Uncharted 3 (Using the L3 button to sprint in contrast to what Dark Souls does and uses the O button to sprint), they shine in making the game a more enjoyable experience thanks to a smooth, useful control scheme. Furthermore, I believe it is worth saying that Dark Souls' controls have to be some of the most responsive, tightly bound together controls I've ever experienced in any game; this only adds to the experience as it helps build upon the idea that "I just died but it was my fault" - a factor that has been with the Souls series since Demon's Souls on the PS3.

Although the graphics in Dark Souls are not as polished as Demon's Souls (It is about twice as big as Demon's Souls so the graphics WOULD take a hit), they still look magnificent and are nicer than some games on the market today. Keep in mind this game has no loading screens so in some areas (Blighttown)the framerate can drop to below-average making the screen choppy; this isn't a surprise though because with the hardware for consoles being so old and the game being so big, there has to be limits. The graphics however look wonderful and you will be gasping in awe at some moments during the course of the game (I know for certain that I did in one particular case)...

Throughout Dark Souls you will find weapons, armour sets, spells, items, consumables and treasures all of which can be used by your character to enhance your experience within the vast fictional world in which Dark Souls is set. To buy new items you use a currency called 'Souls' which are taken from killed enemies, this helps you level up your stats making the game easier for you to play as well as buy new items. Souls are essentially the core of Dark Souls, collected from killed enemies and the actual lost souls of other characters (these can be picked up) souls are not at all scarce in the world of Dark Souls: after collecting souls they can be put towards character development, weapon development or the cliche items seen in this type of RPG game such as arrows, firebottles etc...

The multiplayer in Dark Souls introduces a PVP system that has rarely been used before in games. Developing upon Demons Souls' iconic multiplayer experience, Dark Souls expands upon it by adding an array of new elements such as the Dark Root Garden PVP area in which all players can battle it out without the usual level restraints; faction related PVP gameplay ideas, for example, if you join the "Dark Root Covenant" you receive a ring which allows you to invade any player that attacked the NPCs that usually roam the mists of the Dark Root Garden; and finally, the opportunity to invade any player whenever you like or to place your sign on the floor so that somebody else can summon you to have a fight. As interesting as this system sounds, it is made even better when you look at the level constraints for battling. Although this will be a problem during the MP server's reprise, the servers right now are extremely popular so battling somebody comes as no problem despite only being able to battle somebody within a certain level range, this however can be overcome if you retreat to the all-level battleground of Dark Root Garden. Overall, the Dark Souls Multiplayer experience is one worth experiencing for it guarantees hours of fun due to the balanced nature of the game's servers.

To conclude, Dark Souls takes an incredible world, unique soundtrack, varied multiplayer elements and superb enemy design then mixes it all together to create a package superior to its predecessor, Demon's Souls. Because of this, I would highly recommend this game and if you're debating to get either Demon's Souls or Dark Souls, go for Demon's Souls first hen move onto the slightly enhanced Dark Souls for the best playing experience. Thankyou for reading, I give this game a :


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