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Old 01-14-2010, 04:52 AM   #1559
Joe Redifer
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Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Denver, Colorado
Posts: 20,149
Demon's Souls
Playstation 3

Only the US version gets its own box art.

Jesus Christ in a recycling bin, this game is tough!! In fact it has been touted as one of the hardest games ever EVAR! Yet people who play it almost always seem to love it and get addicted to it. Despite feeling like it would be more at home on the Xbox 360, Demon's Souls is a Playstation 3 exclusive. At least that's what the PS3 fanboys will tell you. But we all know that the PS3 has no games, right?

Story: 2/10
To be honest, there really isn't much of a story here. All you need to know is that some demons awakened and you need to put them to rest. I guess they need a bedtime story because they are not going willingly. Everything is gloomy. Everyone is depressed. It's always cloudy. Some non-playable characters will have a semblance of a story, such as being thankful for their rescue, but that's really about it. The reason for the current state of affairs is explained early in the game, but it is kind of boring. Turn off the story and play your own story while you adventure forth. Oh wait, game systems only do that with music.

You will face the Vanguard boss at the end of the short tutorial. You will die.
But you will get another chance to whip his ass as seen here.

Graphics: 6.5/10
While some of the graphics are indeed pretty cool, much of the game has a kind of yucky, low-budget feel to it. When you are in world 5, it looks like a PS2 game. There is lots of banding where gradients should be smooth as well as lots of aliasing. The physics engine is gawd-awful. Things look pretty when they fall, but I have seen characters and objects get stuck in mid-air, stuck between walls and floors, and twitch endlessly after they are killed. Basically, nothing has realistic weight in this game. Bodies drag at your feet more easily than dragging your emaciated grandpa around the street in the same manner. There is slowdown and dropped frames on more than a few occasions and the game never goes above 30fps. Be sure to turn the in-game brightness all the way up as otherwise it is way too dark. However not all is bad. Most of the enemy designs are very, very cool. The dragons look simply awesome. The main castle in the game looks great as the draw distance goes on for nearly forever and it is topped with a bit of depth-of-field blur. I sometimes like to stand on a ledge and look into the distance and reminisce about when I ran past that part waaaaaaay over there and killed a guy with a crossbow along the way. I wish this amount of attention was given to the other levels. So overall, not bad, but nowhere near as good as it could be if it were given more time in development or simply had a more skilled developer.

Players can leave notes to help other players. It is very rare that they leave false messages
which blows my mind based on what I know about gamers (they're butt-munchers).

Sound: 6/10
This game consists almost entirely of ambient sound. Music only plays during the boss fights. What music is in the game is fairly generic and unmemorable. After I rescued one individual, he appeared in the Nexus (the central hub of the game) and pipe organ music played from then on out. He practically turned the entire place into his own personal church. He had followers and everything. Still, he sucked at the pipe organ and I got sick of it so I murdered him and his fellow cultists. Play some good music next time if you want to live. Unfortunately this game does not allow custom soundtracks, and it could really use that feature, especially when grinding. The sound effects are minimal, giving you a very lonely and desolate feeling. I am sure this was intentional, and it works well. Some levels have specific weird sounds that play given certain circumstances, such as the beating heart sound in world 3-2 which makes it sound very, very spooky. And in level 3-1, you can hear prisoners moaning and screaming. Unfortunately some more work could have gone into the sound levels. When one of those bastard red-eyed knights is chasing you and you are running away like a scared schoolgirl, you can hear his footsteps behind you as he pursues. These footsteps do not grow more quiet the further away you get from the knight, they just suddenly stop when the knight gives up and turns around. It's really scary because you think he is right on your tail when he is more likely quite a distance from you. Some sound levels do decrease with distance, like the previously mentioned heart in 3-2. There is no discrete subwoofer track which is a true shame for a game like this. This could have used more time in development. Also, judging by all of the voices in this game, it takes place entirely in Scotland.

The huge red dragon flies past the bridge, burning all of the poor soldiers to a crisp.
He does it again and again, too. He really likes to rub it in. Asshole.

Gameplay: 8/10
The premise of the game is very simple, it is an action "RPG" where you collect souls to buy things and level up. Each enemy you murder gives you souls… or rather you steal them because I don't think they would give you their souls willingly. Yes, you play as a murdering, thieving, greedy bastard. With you running around committing genocide, you are doing nothing to help the struggling race relations of this unique world. Why can't we all just get along? Anyway, players can leave messages with hints. You can "recommend" these messages and the player who left it will get some of their life back, supposedly. As a result you will see a lot of messages that say "Please recommend this message!" You also see the white ghosts of players who are currently playing the same world as you running around. You cannot interact with them and they see you as a white ghost as well. You can also touch bloodstains to see other players die, though you can only see the player, not what they are fighting. If you die, you leave a bloodstain and lose ALL of your souls. You have to fight your way back to where you died (actually where you were about 5 or so seconds before you died). If you touch your own bloodstain, you recover all of your lost souls and your screen is blocked for 5 or 6 seconds by gigantic text telling you that you have indeed touched your own bloodstain. I wish the message would stay up longer, like maybe for an hour. I also wish it were bigger on the screen. That would make it better because at nearly a third the size of the screen I simply can't read it. If you die before making it back to your bloodstain, well, you're screwed and it also means that nobody in real life wants to be your friend.

The Tower Knight is huge and intimidating, but truth be told, few of the bosses present much challenge at all. The common
enemies will pose more of a threat. I beat most bosses on my first try. Only a few are an exception to this rule.

The game allows you to chose the class of your character in the beginning and gives you a horribly broken character creator. Souls are used as currency and experience in the game. You can level up whatever attribute you want when you have enough souls, be it strength, endurance, 'tude, vitality, what have you. The way I play the game is basically the "HULK SMASH!" method in that I am all offense, do not use magic at all and rarely use my shield. I don't even like dodging. Occasionally I will move out of the way of an impending attack if I have nothing better to do. But by using this tactic I was still able to beat the game. So it stands to reason that I mainly beefed up my strength, endurance and vitality attributes along with a bit of dexterity. I ignored everything else completely. There are tons of items to use and you can assign these to d-pad buttons via the game's clutzy menu system. You must unequip an item before you can set it aside in storage or drop it. The game cannot be paused, you have no control over saving the game as it is done automatically every few seconds or so. If you do something, you cannot undo it. Kill a merchant and he stays dead forever. Sometimes your character becomes trapped in debris and you must smash your way out of it with a sword or whatnot. I did this around a merchant once and they started attacking me! They never become nice to you so you have no choice but to murder them unless you want to put up with their constant shit every time you walk by. Of course this was probably the merchant who sold something that nobody else did that I desperately needed.

Most of the game will be played in "soul" form. While in this mode, you make no footsteps and other players cannot invade your game. Your life bar is also halved, but with a Cling Ring it goes up to about 70% capacity. When you defeat a boss or use a certain item, you can become human again. Your life meter is full, but your attacks are slightly weaker. The game is definitely fun to play, but you really need to get the "feel" for its mechanics before you truly begin to have fun. I was once invaded by a player who came up and saw my big-ass sword. He bowed to me and started helping me get through the level. So you never know the true intention of invading players. Still, the online mode is not the greatest as it is difficult to play co-op with a known friend to get through levels. Even if you did, it would help only one player advance in the game instead of both. Then there are player and world tendencies that vary from light to dark that can affect certain situations. I really don't want to get into that because it is boring to write about, but basically if you do well, the tendency turns white and good things can happen or open up if you look hard enough. Dying while in human form makes everything darker, so play in soul form and commit suicide in the Nexus if you are a human.

While in human form you can summon other players to your world to help. Just look for the blue signs on the ground.

The name "Demon's Souls" is very appropriate. Notice the placement of the apostrophe in the title. That means the multiple souls of one demon. That couldn't be more true here, as each demon has many, many souls, sometimes in the tens of thousands… each! Hell, even the lowest enemy has at least 3 or 4 souls. With me being an atheist, I'm not sure that I feel too comfortable with all of these souls flying around with wild abandon. I am sure that if I used science I could prove to the game that souls don't actually exist, but then it would be impossible for me to level up my character and the game would come to a screeching halt. This game is just too interesting to want to do that, so I'll let it be for now. Perhaps the sequel will be more atheist friendly, collecting science points instead of souls.

Sometimes your own curiosity gets the best of you. Any enemy you kill within a world will stay dead until you exit. As a result it can seem a lot safer than it is since you can always go back to the archstone/checkpoint to leave the world without dealing with respawned enemies on the way back. You wonder what is perhaps around the next corner… you still have maybe 25% of your life. I really should go back while I can. But maybe if I just take a quick peek… AAAAAAHHHHH!!!!! This will happen often and you will be upset when you are working your way back to your bloodstain and you die. This will also happen quite often. It happens to everybody. The most souls I lost at once was nearly 70,000. If you die during a boss fight, things can get frustrating because it is quite a hike from the archstone to get back to the boss. The fight with the False King Allant was really trying as he was super cheap. If he touches you he reduces your levels permanently and you have to re-earn them. If you want to have another go at him, it is nearly a half-mile walk from the archstone to where you fight him, complete with respawned enemies since the level reloads. This is crossing the line in my book. What's next, a boss that erases your game save permanently? Or perhaps erases the saves of other random games? Or formats your PS3 hard drive? Or fries the motherboard? Geeez!

Wrap up:
My first playthrough took me about 41 hours total and I ended up being at level 98. This game is difficult, but it is nowhere near as hard as, say, Ninja Gaiden on the Xbox. But no matter how hard it gets there is always something that brings you back for more. You will eventually get past what is troubling you no matter how much you think you hate the game. Just know that this game most certainly hates you!
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