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Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition Review

by SamSeptember 17, 2012

Title: Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition
Alternate Title: ダークソウル | Dāku Souru
Developed By: FROM Software
Published By: Namco Bandai
Console: PC
Genre: Action RPG
Classification (AU): This title has been classified as MA15+ for Strong Horror Themes and Violence
Review Conditions: Steam / PC
Special Thanks: Namco Bandai Partners for providing me with a copy of this title for review.

Back in October 2011, I wrote a review for FROM SOFTWARE and Namco Bandai’s action-platformer “For the masosadist” Dark Souls on the Playstation 3 and XBox360.  A little less than a year now has passed, and the companies have chosen to develop and publish an enhanced PC port for the game. The PC port features a number of inclusions to separate it from its initial release – namely the “Artorias of the Abyss” content which provides new areas, bosses, enemies, equipment and NPC’s to use and interact with.

Therefore, rather than re-write my entire console version review, I encourage you to check out my initial review HERE. Instead, the purpose of this review is to detail the additions made to the game, the quality of the PC port and if there is value for money purchasing this or waiting for the console “Artorias of the Abyss” DLC to come out. That being said, I will conclude this review only with a single grade from A – E, determining how the new content contributes to the gameplay and the overal port.

The New Goodies – Artorias of the Abyss et al.

If you are playing this game because you have heard it is a challenging game where you must take things slowly, expect a massacre from a swarm of enemies around that innocent looking corner and where you must die a lot… then you need not read further as this game on any platform could very much be up your alley. The console release of Dark Souls is also sizable, featuring a number of main /and sub locations, NPC’s and boss monsters all of which have returned to the game that by the time that I had finished it I was more than satisfied with the game and happy to move onto the next one.

There are two new locales in the game, the first being Oolacile which is split up into five separate areas. While I will not go into too much detail for each one as part of enjoying the game is the surprises that await you once you get there. This new content is accessible only after you have reached a hefty way into the game and felt more as end-game content than something integrated into the storyline, but contributes to the overall Dark Souls experience well.

The entire region also entices you to do something that if you are like me, never bothered doing – summoning in other players for help. Getting to the end of these new areas will set you back several hours at the very least and by no means felt like it was tacked on but an actual challenge.

Online aspects to the series have been around since Demons Souls initially launched in 2009, and even after numerous plans to shut the servers down ATLUS USA (The North American publisher for Demons Souls Not Dark Souls) have not been fully dedicated to doing so given their use. While the game initially starts with something as simple as being able to leave messages on the ground and viewing a gamers dying moments, the capabilities of the games online system expands into the ability to recruit other players, aid other players and even invade their world. While invading a players world allowed you to put an abrupt end their journey, it offered no choice as to who you partnered up with and if they would be willing to fight you in the first place.

FROM Software decided it was finally time to include a proper PvP system, finally allowing you to fight those who are also wanting to fight in a couple of different modes and arenas. Given that you can usually expect to see some small form of pattern in enemy mobs, the PvP system definitely adds a new degree of complexity to the game and provided you are partnered with some equally good players you are in for a challenge. The mechanics for this mode are self-explanatory and are really enjoyable… but the problem is the matchmaking.

Sometimes it can take a minutes to find someone to battle with – but at other times it can takes a greater than acceptable time to find someone to play with (According to some other coverage I have read… hours). Perhaps it could be because the PvP arenas are out of the way… perhaps it is because people are too busy with other things in the game. Either way I hope this can be fixed to provide a truly enjoyable Dark Souls PvP experience when launched on the home consoles – for now I would just stick with the other online features.

While you could play the game without them and still be very happy with it (A- overall to be precise), the new additions were not unwelcome and provided additional challenges and post-game content.

The Port to the PC… Is it any Good?

I won’t deny, for games of this caliber I am generally not a PC gamer… preferring the controls of a controller be it for the Playstation, XBox or even a trusty WiiMote. I was curious as to how they would adapt the control schema to the keyboard given the sometimes need for quick reaction and careful movements. To put it into perspective as to how my experience was with the keyboard controls… I barely got out of the prison cell starting point before moving to the pad.  This might just be me, but the combination of mouse and keyboard controls do not work and if you do not have a game pad (Eg. Xbox 360 PC Pad) for your PC….. good luck to you there!

The visuals on the original were never top notch quality, which sort of contributed well to the dank and dark setting the game takes place. Unfortunately given the games initial resolution of 1024×720 and lack of much in terms of visual customization, the game does look worse on modern monitors. However throw in a fan hotfix which unlocks higher resolution settings and a few other settings it turns the game from looking rather drab to being a means of being able to truly appreciate the work that has gone into designing the game.

The port job, was certainly no-frills, but provided you own a proper game pad and put on the fan-produced fix for the games resolution issues (Well… if you only have a keyboard it may not matter anyway) you will still get plenty of enjoyment out of this game… potentially even more than you would currently get with the console versions.

When it comes to choosing a version of this game to play, at this time you would get more content from the PC version, but with Playstation 3 and XBox360 DLC on its way, it will be up to your own preference of console really. Either way, Dark Souls is a worthwhile addition to your gaming collection and provides a complex, difficult and at times frustrating experience that not every game offers.

Content: B+
Prepare to Die Edition Score: 

Your average, perhaps slightly geeky 23 year old University student who spends his days studying but his nights watching, reviewing and reporting on video games, anime and manga. Has been writing for The Otaku's Study ever since it opened in 2006 as Sam's Anime Study.
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