Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is the follow-up release of the Xbox and PS3’s version of the game which surfaced in the winter of 2011. Dark Souls is the follow-up title to the popular underdog Demon’s Souls from the creators From Software. Just like Demon’s Souls, Dark Souls sets out to set a challenge, and really sticks to that goal. Everyone’s experience differs, some find this game impossible, where as others fight and smash their way through enemies with ease.
This game series has some very unique elements such as being set in always server active world. You may proceed as a hollow and fight your way through the terrors ahead alone. Or you can reverse the effects of hollowing to become human and find fellow like minded players who you can summon to help you on your quest. This has certain pros and cons, but the most commonly encountered is that you can be invaded by other players while in human form. These players set out to plague other users to earn humanity, souls and to make your life more difficult. The game’s multiplayer aspect is extremely different and you won’t find this experience in other titles.
The prepare to die edition isn’t just a straight port of the console games to the PC either. You are also given early access to the Artorias of the Abyss content which will be released later this year to console players. This new content is designed to punish the player even further, so be warned, if you want to add to the games difficulty, this new content is the area you should be working for. Artorias of the Abyss adds several new areas, boss fights and equipment which you can use throughout the world.
Now, the big question is, which version should you buy? Sadly with the release of the PC version, From Software managed to port game, but not as well as they could have. There are a lot of issues with frame rates, graphical issues and crashing. These issues seem to be quite isolated, but ATI users seem to be the one’s suffering most of the issues. There are several fan made fixes for these issues, so with those applied the game runs as it should. This won’t be a glaring issue for console players once the game content releases in the fall. The big plus side to this PC release is once you apply the fan patches, the game runs as you would expect. You will also have early access to the huge new areas added through the DLC.
The game’s audio is made up mainly of ambient sounds and odd music ques with boss fights. The audio has always been high quality, but as you’re wandering a world cast in shadow the most fitting sounds are the ones from battle and noises from the environment. At times you may not notice the music as you have a rather large boss in front of you, so your primary goal is to defeat the thing that will most likely kill you if you make a wrong move.
Graphically the game is stunning, that’s if you use the work around provided by the fan community. For consoles, the game will look stunning as ever, but for PC players you will need to download a mod to display the games graphics properly. This title is a direct 1:1 port from the consoles, but the developers have neglected to optimize the game to run with most systems. So the result is a rather blurry mess, even though this is easily fixed.
The games overall performance varies depending on platform. The PC version runs flawlessly if you have a high spec system which can take the strain of poor optimization, where as the consoles run extremely well. Though there are a few areas which are known issue areas with low frame rates. This seems to be less apparent on the xbox due to it’s install feature, but each platform seems to have it’s own issues. Even though the frame rates can be a little crazy at times, this won’t ruin the experience as these issues only seem to affect small areas of the game.
Each environment you enter is extremely detailed and has a different look. Once you explore the various parts of Lordran you will discover how versatile the environments can be. Each area has its own art style and feel. You will also encounter different enemies in each area. There is an extremely large variety in enemies considering this game has minimal loading screens. As this game has such a seamless experience, you won’t notice loading screen as they’re hidden extremely well. You may notice the odd one due to short cut-scenes where you enter a new area, or a boss fight, or even the fog doors. But once these barriers are removed, you can believe that you’re running around in a huge open world with no limitations other than the high walls around the city.
As you start the game you will be introduced to world and what has happened, and what you must do. This may not be clear to begin with as the introduction tells you about the monsters that are involved in turning the world upside down. From here you need to interact with various NPCs to learn small bits of information about what’s going on and what you must do next. The game really forces you into the world of exploration, and tends to keep things very vague. The story just provides you with a goal and you need to make the decisions that affect the world. There are a few small plots that you can take part in within the world, but these are completely optional.
Think of yourself as a hero that must make a decision and decide the fate of Lordran. There may be one goal, but there are many choices to make on the way.
As you start out the game may seem extremely difficult, at points maybe even impossible. But the key to success is to learn how enemies attack, and how to avoid them. The combat is a huge part the games overall character. You can’t just rush through enemies and smash your way to the end. If you happen to rush past one area, you will always be confronted with an even bigger challenge. With every enemy you master, there is always a tougher enemy waiting for you further down the line.
The games combat is very fluid, but there is far more than just killing enemies. You have several options to take part in while playing through the game. You can join various covenants which will allow you to earn various extra rewards, though you may want to pick the ones that relate to your play style the best, there are 3 good, 3 bad and 3 neutral which you can choose from. You also have a choice of summoning other players to aid you with boss fights. Or to assist you with the PVP/PVE. With Dark Souls you’re always attached to a seamless online world, though it may not seem like it. To take advantage of these extra options though, you will need to reverse your characters hollow form into a human form through using humanity and a bonfire.
Dark Souls has one of the best RPG experiences of this generation, so if you want to immerse yourself in a weird, twisted and difficult world full of challenges, then this is the game for you.
Dark Souls is one of those games you either love your hate. Any fan of the RPG series should play this title, but not everyone will want to keep playing. Due to the games crushing difficulty and learning curve. Unlike the previous releases, some may feel ripped off due to how poorly this title has been ported to the PC, so if you own a console, this will most likely be the primary platform for you.
Even though this game should be experienced by everyone, the PC version might not be the version you should try. This game runs flawlessly on a high end PC with an Nvidia card, but a lot of ATI users have been left in the dark with fluctuations in frame rate. The overall title is still one of the best RPGs I’ve played, and the new content added to the game makes the whole experience worth while. If you don’t mind tinkering with the settings and applying a fan patch to correct the graphics, then you may want to give this title a shot. Or wait for it to release on the Xbox and PS3 later this year.