Review by CobraSA
"Prepare to botch edition, do not give undue credits for unofficial patches"
Preamble : This review is focusing on the company's own work and nothing else, so any software external to the company, be it payware or freeware, that could "improve" this game in any way is not going to be taken into account, if you do not agree with this, you may as well not read this review at all because you certainly won't like it.
The sequels to PS3's Demon Souls has met such an immense success that gamers massively asked for a PC port, be it to enhance the experience with PC modding wonders or simply because they are pure PC gamers who do not own a console. Consequently an online petition has drawn over 90,000 signatures within a few months and as you could imagine this opportunity to make quick cash was not declined by From Software. Why such a success? Many theories are floating around but I believe the main reason is this title is an homage to old school gaming, with its level design and difficulty which I will detail further.
When the news about the future port aired soon after, it caused hysteria among gamers, I must admit I got caught in that hysteria myself with several friends who kept complaining that me, an old school gamer who had declined next gen consoles in favor to the PC, could not possibly ignore that game. So I joined the bandwagon along within the community I have see a hope growing, a hope of a magnitude that would only match the utter disappointment when discovering one of the most butchered port of history called "prepare to die edition".
To be honest, I had a bad feeling when I tested Ninja Blade, another From Software title ported to the PC. I thought it was the most shoddy port I ever played on the PC, the game was plain unplayable without a xbox 360 controller. Why? Because it's a QTE (Quick Time Event) game, yet they didn't even bother to convert the display of the 360button into keyboard + mouse button. OK so imagine yourself with KB+M trying to figure out what you need to do when it says to press X,A,A,Y,A,LB,B,RA, etc... with a tight timing. Yes, your brain is indeed going to explode in no time and it is simply unplayable, I tried reassuring myself thinking this time they would do better for a port with such high expectations, I couldn't imagine how that bad feeling was still far from how terribly it would end up.
Ok so let's go into the details of this review.
I. Scenario and character design : 6/10
I must admit that after playing for so long on the PC, I had almost forgotten how old school games had bland scenarios and characters. Not that it would matter that much when you're 14 years old, but 10~15 years later, you normally grew up to like more mature material, no I am not talking about porn there, but I don't want anymore of characters with a personality that can be summed up by a single word, a plot that is so generic that it could as well not exist at all and nobody would have noticed a difference. I am now used to believable personalities, rich story lines with big plot twists if not major mind blows, but I didn't find any of those in there. You get the point, this isn't where this title is shinning, at all.
II. Graphics and sounds : 5/10
We're now going straight into the shoddiness of this title. Let's sum the situation, this next gen title, which already suffered from major speed issues on the PS3, is capped at 30fps, and ... *drum roll* ... 1024x720!!! No this is not a joke, in 2012, a PC game capped at 1024x720. Does it require any comment? Well, just one on my part, it's really capped at 512x360 since this is the depth of vision actual resolution. Does it really matter, well sort of when the resolution is so low that you are plainly unable to figure out what the heck is happening around you without your eyes crying tears of blood. And man you understand quickly the joke this game is when you begin with a pair of binoculars with a range of 10 meters. What's the point? Do a mighty zoom of 512x360 goodness happening 10 meters away from you? mkay! Sorry but unlike other reviewers so far, I am not going to give any undue credit to the company for external patches. Anyway even the patch isn't making this game graphics epic by nowadays standards, in fact the patch enlightens you on how the pixel shading is doing all the work, without pixel shading I believe this game would be graphically comparable to PlayStation 2 titles at best. Heck even Lost Planet ONE release 6 years ago looks far better and more detailed than this. That's all I have to say about the graphics, the sounds on the other hand are correct but imperceptible most of the time. Some voiced tracks may sound very nice at first, but they are getting kind of repetitive after a while as they use the same generic effects over and over. They still manage to save this section's score from utter mediocrity.
III. Gameplay : 1/10
You thought the graphics were the major flaw? You were wrong. I can live with a game being ugly, but not with a game being plainly
unplayable. Just like Ninja Blade in its glorious time, don't expect this game to be playable without a 360 controller. But why? This game is no Street Fighter, it is your generic third person action game in 3D environments, this is the typical game that benefits the most from keyboard + mouse with far more intuitive and reactive controls. But no they screwed that part big time. Just like Ninja Blade, why bother converting the 360 buttons display on screen into keyboard + mouse? Don't all PC gamers have a 360 controller? You know what? Hell no I don't and never will! Period!! I have a PC and I do not expect my PC games to require non PC material to work properly. The game is expensive enough like this to not warrant extra cost that would be of use to me only with it. But really, I have tried to play this with keyboard + mouse, I really tried, but I just couldn't, it's plainly impossible. So I finally dug a dualshock 2 and plugged it with USB adapter to PC. And even that failed big time. There is no way at all to remap any button. My dualshock 2 was mostly correctly detected and mapped except for the digital pad. Was it really so difficult to add an option to map the controller? This is absolutely inexcusable and none of the other many PC games I own have ever done that to me. This is where you see that they absolutely mocked PC players, threw them junk with the highest contempt in order to harvest the easy money. Once again I know about some
commercial softwares that could fix this but the harm is done. The hell will be frozen before I resort to payware in order to fix this butchery of a port.
IV. Level design : 9/10
Finally a part where the game shrines. Yes I can understand how this game conquered old school gamers, along with the difficulty,
this aspect screams old school at every corner, with doors you unlock from only one side, you don't know where to go anymore, a boulder crossing your path is going to open a new way in a place you visited. I would go as far as comparing the level design to the glorious PlayStation's Resident Evil which is the epitome of great level design to me, so well thought that it turned a tiny mansion into a kingdom. In one word, brilliant!
V. Player fun : 1/10
This port is just way too butchered to leave any real fun behind. Obviously it had a huge potential for player fun, but when it's not even playable why even bother elaborating further? Your taxes are far more likely to give you fun than this. When a games makes you want to throw yourself out the window, you know it's no longer fun and that's really all there is to say about it.
Conclusion and overall score : 1/10 Unplayable
Obviously Dark Souls had the potential to be an epic asset to the PC gaming library, unfortunately From Software is making itself a name for the worst PC ports in history. This game which suffers from terrible optimization is technically comparable to what has been released a decade ago, yet is asking a better rig than Max Payne 3 to run decently. It's completely unplayable with a keyboard and a mouse. I don't believe for a single instant they actually bothered to know how PC gamers would feel like by playing this game, once again I believe they they just coldly looked at figures, how to minimize port costs and maximize profits and you end with this plague of a game. Some will say the game has at least one merit, it does exist and is an extra asset to PC library. You are entitled to think that if you will, personally I am probably going to ignore anything else originating from that company. Quick cash harvesting and contempt toward PC community turned out to be terrible ingredients for a game. Please at least rent it to test it first, don't buy it directly, and see for yourself if you can accept such level of shoddiness. From Software must not be allowed to keep believing they can do quick cash without a single effort, because we PC gamers can't be fooled that easily, we have more great games than we could ever play and we can live without such abominations.
I give it the score 1/10 not to decrease its average nor because I'm a stupid hater, but simply because it's the score going along with "unplayable" and that's simply what this game is, and I worked out why.
Reviewer's Score: 1/10 | Originally Posted: 11/19/12, Updated 01/30/13
Game Release: Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition (EU, 08/24/12)
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