Dark Souls 2 review (PS3)

Number-Nine | 199d ago | User review
Reviewing: Dark Souls 2
Prepare to die......less.
Demon's Souls broke ground introducing one of the hardest games in a time where everything seems to simplified. Dark Souls built upon that foundation and created a more maniacal experience. Dark Souls 2 deviates from this path as they try to gain new fans by making it more accessible. New comers to the series may find challenge since they don't know what to expect, but as a fan of the previous two installments, Dark Souls 2 is without a doubt the easiest of trio.

The challenge is something that really attracted me to the series since its unlike anything else out on the market. It's difficult but not in a cheesy way, it has masterfully, well thought out levels that has you cautiously peaking around every corner, and enemies that are intimidating to look at. Everything mentioned above is severely lacking in Dark Souls 2, and this alone really hurts the game in my eyes. To make the game more accessible, they dumbed down everything. Enemies look intimidating and great, but once you conquer them you'll realize how much of a pushover they are. In Dark Souls a lot of enemies had surprise attacks and one hit kills, but not in this addition. There really aren't any surprises and it doesn't punish your mistakes. And no Souls' game felt cheesy when I died, however there were numerous times where I am clearly out of the attack range but I somehow get hit that results in my demise. Even the amount of HP you lose is more forgiving since is doesn't decrease by half when you die.

Now you can amp up the difficulty of you're looking for a greater challenge but From Software did this backwards. You can join covenant that increases the overall difficulty, you get these items that can be burned in a bonfire that makes enemies tougher, and you can equip rings that make you more noticeable. For me to get that challenge I have to go out of my way to seek it. This is how the game should have been out of the case, and have those looking for an easier time jump through hoops. But even that wouldn't fix the less sadistic level design (with the exception of 2 levels). There are not many traps, ambushes, pits, or overall cleverness. Drangleic felt massive and the open areas looked fantastic with beautifully artistic back drops, but everything in between looked bland and could've used some more decor. Even leveling up easier because it requires less souls to do so. Plus the amount of souls you gain seems to be on the high side. The change in difficulty is written in every facet of the games mechanics and its very disappointing.

I know I'm tearing into the game a bit but it isn't all bad. It plays exactly like Souls'in how you progress, do combat, and its online interactions. The new engine increases the stability of the performance making the frame rate issues much improved, and the targeting system works. The lighting is nice and the textures are sharp. Online has some cool new features that have you spar with the same covenant if you belong to the Blue Sentinels, or another one that summons other players into a freakish death trap if you belong to Rat King. With those additions though, they foolishly limited the number of Red Eye Orbs (which allows you to invade other players), which in turn makes the new Blue Eye Orb (allows you to invade the guilty) useless. I am a big fan of being invaded because it creates such an uneasy feeling, and when you end up slaying the wimpy invader the sense of relief and triumph is very satisfying. The lack of invading was an issue in DS1 and has sadly gotten worse in DS2.

The game does retain some of its form with a very flexible leveling up system that caters to your style. The ability to upgrade weapons, armors and shields. Magic like sorceries, pyromancies, miracles and the newly included dark magic, Hexes. I spent nearly 80 hours on my first play through so it will definitely keep you busy, and has hours and hours of more play time for the biggest of fans. It's not a bad game by any means but it seems to be losing touch with its Soul and starting to turn Hollow.
Ups
Stability to framerate
Scenic open areas
Downs
Dumbed down difficulty
Level design lacks overall creativity
Bosses are pushovers
Score
8.0
Graphics Open areas like beautiful with its artistic back drops, but everything else looks quite bland.
8.0
Sound The boss themes are nice, but the real magic comes from the uncomfortable ambience that makes room for enemy moans and groans.
6.5
Gameplay The games MO is the challenge but by trying to make it more accessible it has hurt the difficulty, as its evident in every facet of the game.
7.0
Fun factor It plays like a Souls' game and it is still an enjoyable experience. But it's definitely the worst in the series and somewhat forgettable.
8.0
Online They done some interesting things with the covenants, and messages frequently get rated. PvP still isn't where it should be however, but it's better.
7.0
Overall (out of 10 / not an average)
smashman98  +   197d ago
I disagree with your review the game plays better than the last 2 for sure and like you said for true souls fans there are many ways to make it even harder and much harder at that you said out of your way? The covenant you join to make the game harder is literally available within the first half hour of play. No traps? Or surprises? How bou the pursuer being dropped on you before you even fight your first boss or turning a corner and being blasted by balistas or opening a chest and being decimated by a trap. And no clever design!? Mirror knight wants a word with you.
Number-Nine  +   196d ago
The point is that the gsme shouldn't require you to increase the difficulty because that it was the series is about. I shouldn't have to do these things to get the challenge I want.

Also, you can't join other covenants if you want the challenge all the way through, and so you can't summon phantoms either. Thats a big chunk of the DS2 experience you'll miss out on.

And you mention the Mimic chests. DS1 had 9 scattered throughout. DS2 has 5.

The Pursuer is totally avoidable. So thats moot.

And what about the Mirror Knight? A pushover boss.

And I said level design wasn't clever. And it's not. I never that there werent any of the things mentioned. The problem is that there arent nearly enough.
randomass171  +   186d ago
I get the feeling that it's meant to be easier for hardened players while newcomers are going to get slaughtered. Like so, allow me to present Mr. Potato Sack Rider. https://www.youtube.com/wat...
Steelmanner  +   183d ago
I find your argument really confusing. You ridicule the game for searching for a broader audience by making it easier, but I fail to see the "easy" factor that this game supposedly comes with. Although i will agree that it is the easiest of the three soul games, by no means is it a "push-over." I have played both souls games and I found a good challenge in the regular game of Dark souls II without any difficulty multipliers.

Plus you are upset that you have to put a little effort into making it harder for "seasoned" talent. To me this sounds like you are either looking for issues in the game, or are just lazy.

I will agree that the level design is less creative then dark souls, but understand the issues that dark souls suffered from as a result. They tried to make it a smoother game by making it less dynamic, but yes they did lack in the design aspect.

Lastly I can see where you are coming from by saying that the invasions have drifted away, but I have experienced the opposite. In the time i spent with Dark souls II I was invade on many occasions, and I myself invaded many times as well. Limiting the orbs was a bit confusing, but I wouldn't say it demolished the invasion aspect, because it is definitely there.

Lastly, I don't think your 6.5 is quite right for Game-play. The better targeting system makes it much smoother. Improvement in blocking has made it a better option. Losing less health on death allows you to get back on track quicker. Enemies were very frightening and many packed a punch. You obviously had some issues with enemies hitting outside their range, but both of the other souls had that issue as well. Also, I'm not sure the enemies you were fighting became push-overs, you probably just learned how to fight them.

Overall I can clearly see were you are coming from on many of your ideas. However many of the thing criticized seems a bit petty, and situational. I bet you have put a lot of time into this and i'm sure you died hundreds of times. Sure it has a few small issues, but I believe this was an improvement for the souls series, and I think that the game deserves a bit more credit than you have given it.

P.S. I apologize for any spelling mistakes I'm terrible at spelling.
codergames  +   195d ago
I see you fixed most of the errors, will vote the approval now. I'm not sure if you two are arguing about something important, but the review is usually a subjective opinion of one individual player and his experience with the game, so all I can do is vote for approval despite the fact that other players disagree with the opinion. Those other players can always write their own reviews of the same game.
newflesh  +   195d ago
I agree on level design being inferior to past Souls games. Also the art style is lacking. Nothing as grand and atmospheric as Anor Londo or Boletaria Palace
Number-Nine  +   193d ago
I agree. Anor Londo, Blighttown, Boletaria, Valley of Defilement, and Tower of Latria are so memorable. I didn't get nearly the same vibes from any of the levels in DK2.
imtheman2013  +   193d ago
Dragon Aerie? I thought that that was easily one of the most memorable locations in the Souls series... oozing with artistic style. Not to mention Majula, Things Betwixt, Sinner's Rise, and many other great locations.
newflesh  +   193d ago
@imtheman2013
To me Dragon Aerie felt artificial, it didn't feel like a real place. And all those bridges, what the hell are they for? Don't think dragons use them. Just broke sense of disbielief. But still it was the most interesting place artstyle wise
g-nome  +   194d ago
The best souls game yet for me. A masterpiece. 100hrs now.
BiggCMan  +   193d ago
200 hours, a platinum trophy....and definitely not the best game, sorry. It's still a kick ass game no doubt, it's rare to see a game filled with so much content where it doesn't need DLC at all, something so complete like the series always has been.

But there's just something about it, I can't pinpoint it for some reason, that's just not as good as Dark Souls and Demon's Souls. Both games were such masterpieces, they are perfect games, and that is something I only reserve for Metal Gear normally.

I didn't feel this way with 2, but it was still really good. I don't think it's the difficulty being less, but again I just can't pinpoint it for some reason.

Hell there are loads of improvements such as PvP connections, much better magic, and other things. But idk, it just didn't feel as epic, not NEARLY as epic.

A really boring final boss fight, nothing really memorable like Anor Londo and Ornstein and Smough. They will forever go down as one of the most outstanding boss battles in history. I got none of that with 2 and it's a shame.
randomass171  +   186d ago
200 hours? Dang, where do you even begin to get that much time to play games? o_O
Chxii  +   185d ago
@randomass171
I'm 170+ hours with a platinum
cpayne93  +   177d ago
I didn't even get hit by the final boss, first try. The bosses and environments just felt much more bland and uninspired than Demon's Souls and Dark Souls. The way the stones and upgrades were done wasn't as good this game, but the main problem with this game is the atmosphere. Just didn't lead me to want to expolore the worlds the same way the precious games had.

For me, Demon's Souls > Dark Souls > Dark Souls 2.
DoctorJones  +   194d ago
I've been getting invaded more and more in late game, and Red Eye Orbs can be won by duels in Undead Purgatory. So obviously it's not nearly as much of a problem as you make it out to be.

Besides that I pretty much disagree with everything else you accuse DS2 of being, I think it's on par with DS and DkS and surpasses them in many ways. The way NG+ is implemented is far more interesting now, and Company of Champions gives me another reason to play through as well.

If I wanted to go through all the points I disagree with in this review I'd be here all day, so I'll just leave it at that.
#5 (Edited 194d ago ) | Agree(3) | Disagree(5) | Report | Reply
OmegaShen  +   194d ago
lol on par, I have made two characters on Dark Souls 2 an fly through it. I been using alot of those items at the bonfire to up how hard it is, so far it hasn't came close to being hard like Demon's Souls.

I even went back to Demon's Souls to relive it, an yes its much harder. No flask, no bonfire. Just long walks to your death. Even gets harder when the world turns pure black.
DoctorJones  +   193d ago
Demons Souls isn't harder at all, stop with the bs. No flask? Yeah, just loads of grass to chew, which is much quicker to take as well. And you don't need bonfires when you can just choose the level and starting point. What difference does it make? None.

I've played all the games extensively and they all have hard points and easy points.
OmegaShen  +   193d ago
All lol, Dark Souls 2 you just need to be close to the bosses feet, close to something keeping the boss apart from you and thats it. Boss isn't smart to stop falling for it.

You must be a noob if you think this game is hard, I betting you haven't even max your level out on the last two?
DoctorJones  +   193d ago
There's not much more involved when it comes to many Demons Souls and Dark Souls bosses, don't know why you think there is. And noob comments are usually made by nobs, so that seems about right.

I played through Demons Souls a few months ago and zipped through it. I love the game, but it's not hard at all really. None of the games are when you're used to them.

You just seem to have a warped sense of difficulty, or just a biased one. I don't know.

Dark Souls 2 is just as good as the other games though, I do know that.
OmegaShen  +   193d ago
No, Dark Souls 2 is worst. Its a dumb down copy of the first one, Dark Souls 1 and Demon's Souls both have things respawn (unlike 2). An now with patch 1.03, game just got even more easy.
sdozzo  +   192d ago
"Dumbed down," I don't agree. But, it is more accessible for newcomers and more health options (easier). Still a top notch game. The soap stones work much smoother now so everyone uses them for bosses.
randomass171  +   186d ago
Wouldn't dumbing down and being made more accessible the same thing?
coolbeans  +   186d ago
There's really just a thin grey line between that depends on the situation and how you look at it. Example:

-I played the 360 version of Metro 2033 and was annoyed at inconsistent control issues, UI, and the broken-butt stealth system.
-Preview vids showed Last Light cleaned up these issues in different ways while still having the stealth, survival horror, shooting combination mostly intact.

While I haven't played Last Light yet, that looks one of those cases of being just "more accessible."
StockpileTom  +   192d ago
The personalities of the NPCs are nowhere near as interesting as DkS or DS and the level design is subpar.

I hope whatever Miyazaki is working on is more awesome with more attention to detail.
Dannycr  +   187d ago
Your 4th paragraph summarize my thoughts. The existence of the Ring of Life Protection lowers the difficulty of the game A LOT. You don't have to spend your effigies to revive and get your life back, just use this ring and IF you die, you don't lose anything. Just farm 3000 souls and fix it.
psuedo  +   187d ago
It's all up to the player in terms of difficulty. Some players from Dark Souls beat all the bosses by themselves. Hell I could hardly beat some bosses with help sometimes. I think it has to do with experience in terms of the difficulty, but I do agree with the statement they should make a person able to make the game easier, instead of harder, and keep the difficulty factor the same.

Then again I haven't played DS2 yet, but I've been getting better at Dark Souls 1. Experience.
randomass171  +   186d ago
That really seems to be the deal breaker is how experienced you are with the series. I've had people tell me Dark Souls II is harder and some have said to me that's easier.

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Dark Souls 2

Average Score 8.8 Reviews(146)
Release Dates
PC Release Dates
AU 25 April 2014
EU 25 April 2014
US 25 April 2014
PS3 Release Dates
US 11 March 2014
EU 14 March 2014
AU 14 March 2014
Wii U Release Dates
Xbox 360 Release Dates
US 11 March 2014
EU 14 March 2014
AU 14 March 2014
Xbox One Release Dates