DARK SOULS II – Review (Xbox 360)

DARK SOULS II – Review (Xbox 360)

I’ve probably redone this review numerous times already, and for some reason I keep feeling like my reviews for this game aren’t doing it justice. So, without further ado I’m throwing everything I can at this review and gonna pump it out quicker than my bowels do after an all you can eat Mexican dinner.

Dark Souls II is the sequel to From Software’s Dark Souls which released in 2011. This new iteration in the franchise takes everything we loved about that amazingly, difficult game and did some tweaks to improve the overall performance and experience of the game, but also making it more accessible to gamers wanting to dip their toes into this series.

In the game you control a cursed Undead trying to find a way to cure this curse that has been afflicted upon them. It isn’t linked to its predecessor other than taking place in the same world. The story takes place in the land of Drangleic, full of souls to help undead maintain their humanity while fighting the curse of the undead. The general story follows the cursed Undead, who is drawn to Drangleic by some sort of compelling force only to meet other Undead who have traveled to Drangleic for the same reasons. To not fall victim to the curse, which slowly erases the afflicted memories and soon they become the mindless undead.

That’s pretty much the basis of the plot revolving around the game, and explains the quest that players will set out on without divulging too much into spoiler territory.

For the people unfamiliar with the Souls series, it’s an action RPG that is known for the mass amounts of difficulty that gets shoved down your throat. Dark Souls is quite possibly the hardest games I’ve ever played, yet sadly I never got around to playing Demon’s Souls when I owned my PS3. That being said, it feels like Dark Souls II would be the game I’d recommend to someone eager to dip their toes into the franchise. DS2 feels a hell of a lot easier than the first game, and feels way more accessible for someone to pick up & play and get themselves prepared for the journey ahead.

Does this mean Dark Souls II isn’t a good game? Hell no. By all means it’s a fantastic game and could quite honestly be better than most of the current-gen games we’re getting on the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

There’s also a ton of content to see in the game, and you really wouldn’t have to worry about not getting your $60 worth. It’s quite a lengthy game, depending on how good you are at these games. I’m quite rubbish and I defeated the end boss nearing about the 65 hour mark. Yup, you read correctly. It took me 65 hours to finish the game and that’s without doing much side-content so there’s a lot of meat to the experience of Dark Souls II.

I’ll get flak though because I enjoyed my experience with this game then I did with the original. I actually finished this game, where as I gave up on Dark Souls around Blighttown. Not only does this game feel more refined, but it plays better than the original and adds some new features that make the experience that more enjoyable. The main aspect being a better multiplayer system. I never could get it to work well in the original Dark Souls, and was surprised at how fluid it was and well it seemed to work in DS2.

You can summon other players to help you take on World Bosses which is hell of a good time, and can make taking on bosses easier and helping you progress past areas that you’re stuck at. Which was a feature I used a couple of times to get past some of the more trickier bosses. You can also invade other player’s worlds and hunt them down and kill them with a sort of PvP aspect. It’s a cool aspect, and there’s even certain Covenants (guilds if you think about it) that are more geared towards PvP, and ones that are more geared towards co-operative play.

So, let’s say you joined the Heirs Of The Sun covenant in the game. If you successfully protect the World Host for a set amount of time, or kill the World Boss with them (without the host dying of course) you’ll be awarded a Sunlight Medal that will allow you to progress in levels in the covenant and unlock spells, and weapons.

Or maybe you’re more of a PvP kind of person and you joined the Brotherhood Of Blood covenant. For every certain amount of player kills you’ll rank up in the covenant and get the chance to snag some unique items that can only be obtained from ranking up in the Covenant.

The cool thing about being invaded is that if you’re playing online it can pretty much happen at anytime, and there’s moments where it can be an absolute blast. Other times, it can be a great big pain in the arse. That’s what I like about Dark Souls. Even though you clear an area of enemies, there’s still that chance of someone invading you and stabbing you in the back.

PRAISE THE SUN!

Even with all the awesome stuff surrounding Dark Souls II there’s still some things that are rubbing me the wrong way about the sequel. The main thing being the world is sort of bland and disconnected. With the original game you got a feeling that the world was connected, and a living, breathing thing (minus the Undead, hur hur) that was just an awesome place to explore. However, the world of Drangleic in Dark Souls II feels bland, boring, and ultimately disconnected. Coming from Dark Souls into Dark Souls II is a little disappointing on that end, but for someone who’s only played this game you really won’t notice that flaw.

Luckily, it doesn’t take much away from the game and still makes it enjoyable.

The only other gripe I have with the game is the variety in the enemies and bosses. In the first game we had a variety of creatures, and interesting, unique bosses (Gaping Dragon I’m looking at you). But with DS2 it feels like they took a step back in turns of creature design and instead gave us a dick-ton of humanoid enemies, and bosses. There are a lot of humanoid things to fight in Dark Souls II and it’s sort of a let-down.

Most of the enemies are humanoid in some way with the occasional Attack Dog, Mushroom, etc. Then we have a huge chunk of the bosses being humanoids with a few exceptions such as the Song Demon, Gargoyles, Rat Vanguard, and a few others. Just like the world issue it’s a little disheartening but doesn’t stop the game from being a complete blast.

If you’re curious about getting into the Souls series I would definitely recommend you use Dark Souls II as that gateway game. It’s easier than its predecessor and way more accessible. While it has a few hiccups in terms of level, and creature design it still soars above the first game in other areas. The multiplayer component of the game is one of my favorites in recent memory and this is really the only game that I’ve gone back to do a New Game+ play-through. So, what is the final verdict?

Dark Souls II may be easier than the first game, but it’s still a complete blast and one of the best experiences I’ve had with my Xbox 360. It may have a few hiccups, but it never takes away from the enjoyment of the game. This game is most definitely worth the $60 price-tag, and may just be my Game Of The Year…so far.

 

Justin Ross


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