Demon’s Souls

demons-souls

I imported the Asian version of From Software’s “Demon’s Souls” a few weeks ago. I’ve been playing for about 10 hours so far and I feel I’ve gotten enough playtime I’m to formulate some feelings on the game. The first thing you’ll notice about Demon’s Souls is its difficulty, which will be extremely polarizing. You’ll either appreciate the challenge and work really hard to overcome it, or you’ll be turned off by it and never want to see this game again.

Now a bit of back story. Demon’s Souls takes place in the fictional kingdom of Boletaria, a once great nation now being ravaged by a demon scourge. As a result, people who die are trapped in what is called The Nexus. After a brief tutorial level you are thrown into a battle with a gigantic boss, who proceeds to kill you in one hit. This sets up the game’s story and gives you a bit of a taste for just how challenging the game will be. The Nexus is the game’s main hub where you can teleport to the various stages, buy or store items, and learn or upgrade skills (after you beat level 1-1).

When you start the game the only level available to you is 1-1. This serves as a time for you to learn the combat, and the basic skills in the game like dodging, attacking, and blocking. Over the course of the level you open up shortcuts which let you get back to areas deeper in the level without having to fight through the whole thing again if you die (which you most likely will). There will be enemies you just cant beat in the beginning so these shortcuts act as a path to get to various parts of the level to revisit these super enemies. Anyway, at some point in level 1 you open a large gate to the first boss. Once the first boss is dispatched all 4 other areas levels become available as well as the ability to go deeper into level 1 (and giving you a second entry point to the level in the process), it also opens up the ability to purchase skill upgrades and magic. Enter souls. Souls are the game’s money–they are used to upgrade your stats (strength, endurance, vitality, etc), buy or upgrade and fix your weapons, and purchase magical spells. Part of this games difficulty comes from the way in which souls are handled. You gain souls by defeating enemies. Weaklings can give you 6-60 souls, and bigger guys and bosses can give you thousands. If you die however, all of the souls you have at the time are dropped, but you can fight back to where you died and pick them back up, but if you die on your way there a new set of souls drop and the original (usually larger) sum disappears.

There are also various online features to the game including 4 player co-op, and a sort of MMO style online mode where you can see other players as ghosts in your world. You can also leave messages on the ground for others to read and to warn them of danger or of secret items. If you see a message that you find helpful, you can rate it which will give some life back to the person that left the message. You can also leave messages if there is a part you’re having trouble passing and passers by will be able to lend a hand by rating your message and refilling your life. This is why you’ll see a ton of “This is harsh. Evaluate me.” messages. There is even a PVP system in the game where players can force themselves into other someone else world and stalk and kill them as a phantom.

I am having a lot of fun with Demon’s Souls so far, and I cant wait to see some of the later areas in the game. Though, I think I’ll level up a little bit more first.

Killzone 2 (Demo) Impressions

I just finished the Killzone 2 demo and have a few quick thoughts about it. First, The game is phenominal looking. All of the textures, lighting, animations, and effects are masterfully pulled off. The anti-aliasing in the is also pretty impressive for a PS3 game. Killzone 2‘s graphical fidelity goes without saying, though. Since it was announced Killzone 2 has become the poster-child for PS3 graphical prowess, much like Crysis has on the PC, and deservedly so. It is a gorgeous looking game.

One area that has been more mixed is the game’s controls. People seem to think that the momentum and weightiness makes it feel mushy. I didn’t adjust the sensitivity at all yet but to me it just feels like the acceleration is a little bit off. If the initial acceleration was turned up a little I think it would be fine. I’ll have to mess with it to make sure, though. As far as people saying it feels like no other shooter, that is a load of crap. It controls a lot like Call of Duty 4. R2 throws a frag grenade, Clicking on the left stick sprints, R1 fires.

It took me awhile to get used to the cover mechanic. Holding L2 snaps you to a cover object if you’re standing near one. Then you can kind of peek out and fire off some shots. It seems to work well, I’ve just got to get used to using it.

The A.I. seemed pretty good, too. It will try to get behind you, and will use grenades to flush you out if you’ve turtled up somewhere.

I think I’ll play through the demo a few more times and see if I can adjust the sensitivity a little. This demo has me pretty psyched for the full game. I cant wait to play more.

Dead Space Hands On

Last night my friend Rob gave me a ride to pick up Socom Confrontation and Deadspace. When I got home I immediately started charging the Official Playstation Headset that came with Socom, I’ll talk about that some other time.

Popping Dead Space in, one of the first things I noticed aside from the graphics being amazing was the sound design. Wearing headphones you can tell where sounds are coming from which is very useful when fighting space monsters. The ambient sounds are meant to creep out and confuse and they work. The ship’s creaks, and groans offer up just as much tension as a necromorph popping out of a vent. One room that really impressed me had this automatic door that was broken and was opening and closing over and over again, and slamming into the wall. 1 room away you can still hear it but its all muffled and echoing and sounds like a humanoid beating franticly on a wall.

The game is super fun, controls really well, and I really like the upgrade system. It works almost like the Final Fantasy X sphere grid where you buy nodes and move along branching paths of un-lockable attributes (eg: +Damage, or +Capacity). Where it differs, is each item has its own grid of nodes to unlock. Pretty cool.

I’m generally a pretty large wuss when it comes to scary games, but I think that in this case I may foce myself to finish the game because it seems so interesting.

Oh, and note to self: When enemies are piling into a room dont back into a corner with a vent.

WipEout HD Impressions

WipEout was one of the first games I remember playing for the original Playstation back in 1995. I remember it being hard as hell, yet somehow I still came to enjoy it. Recently, WipEout’s success has been confined mostly to the portible gaming scene with the previous entries (WipEout Pure and Pulse). WIpEout HD changes that and brings it back to the Playstation’s flagship system, the Playstation 3.

WipEout HD is way cheaper at $20 than I ever thought it would be when I first heard about it. After playing it, the reverse sticker shock is even more severe. With online multiplayer, an AWESOME picture mode (which I used to take the screenshot above), and a huge campaign, a bunch of tracks, car skins, an unlockable 2097 HUD WipEout HD does not disappoint as far as features go. I have a feeling I’ll be playing this game for a long time to come. Hopefully in that time I’ll get better at it again.

GTAIV First Impressions

So yesterday after work I went and picked up my copy of GTAIV from the local Gamestop. I played it for about 4 hours straight and have a few observations about it. I’ll start off with the negative.

  1. After recently playing games like Burnout Paradise, and Gran Turismo 5, the car physics in this game based on stealing cars are pretty awful. I don’t know how many times I’ve flipped cars over while driving 30 mph only to have the occupants not seem to notice and keep on going with their conversation. After some aerial acrobatics the car usually lands wheel side down, barely taking a scratch and keeps on going.
  2. The next thing is the walking animation. This is actually something Rob pointed out to me yesterday before I had the game. When walking, whenever you turn Niko’s whole body leans like 30 degrees. This may be expected for an all out run, but while walking it just looks kind of ridiculous.
  3. I am not a huge fan of the way the game does tutorials. When you’re driving around a city and trying to follow a GPS the last thing you want to be doing is also trying to read text in the upper left of the screen.

Now for the good:

  1. The voice acting is some of the best I’ve seen in videogames. Niko seems fairly normal when back-lit by all these crazy people he is interacting with and is very likable unlike a lot of the previous GTA characters. I am surprised by how funny he is, as well.
  2. The explosions are really great looking. They look very nice with volumetric smoke and particle effects.
  3. The world feels really good, its probably the most lifelike city I’ve seen in a game thus far, which is something… I guess.

I cant really say much about the story yet, but overall I am enjoying myself with this game. I just wish the cars felt a little bit more weighty and the walk animation’s turning situation wasn’t so overblown.