Holy SHIT, what a game!
What a game indeed. I've had the game since release day on PS3 but never finished it. The recent release of Dark Souls: Prepare To Die Edition has given me new impetus to play and complete the game.
I decided on a pure END/DEX based character after having good experiences with my experiments with Dex based characters on PS3. I ended the game at about Level 80 32 hours of soul crushing dungeon crawling later. A new player can expect to at least double this length. I have had a year to learn the mechanics and only now, 11 months later, has every aspect of it finally clicked and unified to reveal the bigger picture at work.
Getting to Anor Londo took me all of 10 hours, a good 8 or so hours of that playthrough was mat farming and crafting and generally trying to avoid going to explore areas I knew were going to be problematic, the rest was all content I had zero experience with, but I found none of it to really pose that much of a challenge. I'd heard after Anor Londo it doesn't really get any more difficult, and I'd have to say it really doesn't. By the time you finish Anor Londo, if you've been playing well you should be pretty well geared up, enough so to have pretty much anything you'd need to tackle the upcoming areas, and I most definitely was. In fact I felt over-geared and over-levelled somewhat. I also did certain things out of what I saw as being the intended order. I killed Sif around level 70 if I remember correctly, whereas I should've probably been tackling that fight around level 45, thus rendering him to be an utter cakewalk. However, the game was still immensely satisfying for its entirety and as I continued to journey forth into the very depths of Lordran itself, the game just became more compulsive. I could feel the end of the game coming, I could feel the game, the narrative, and indeed my character's arc that had become a kind of loosely woven tapestry of archetypal badass granny wanderings, drawing to a resolution.
Last night (having just two more bosses to kill before the I faced the big bad...) I decided to continue onwards and not stop until I completed it. Around 7:30 this morning I killed the final boss and I have been buzzing ever since. To finally beat a Souls game after being an ardent fanboy of the series (but not a good enough player to sample the full extent of their delights) for a couple of years feels incredible.
However, I did not do any of the new content. I am going to do that on a new character with which I am going to make different choices and side with different people with a totally different build. I wanted to do a run through of the original content. I also skipped the painted world, the great hollow and ash lake. It seemed wrong to go to them when the forwards momentum to the endgame was so strong.
I've already gotten started on NG+ but I'm not too sure what I am going to do with this character yet. I'm considering getting into PVP but I am an END/DEX pure and it seems like pretty much all other PVP-ers have magick pouring forth from every known orifice (and a few that have yet to be discovered.)
The artistic design of the world of Lordran really comes alive on PC, revealing the true nature of the care that's was taken with absolutely every aspect of the visual presentation of the game. All of what you see in the PC version is essentially exactly what was on the console versions, just at a potentially much higher resolution, and I'd say that really speaks volumes about From's talent. Sure the console version runs at an abysmal 1024x768, but all those details that are now so clear were always there in the first place, just waiting to be glimpsed in all their glory, which kind of just blows my mind considering just how much more rich the world feels compared to my experiences with the PS3 version.
I play with these specs:
i5 2500k @ 3.3ghz (stock)
4GB 800mhz ram
2x MSI GTX560Ti Twin Frozr MkII (stock speeds)
Using Durante's Res Fix I'm rendering at 1.5x the size of 1080p and downscaling it. No SSAO or SSAA from DSfix 1.0. 4x AF, 16xAA being handled by my second GPU. The game looks gorgeous, perhaps even nigh-on photorealistic at times. Upon closer inspection a fair few of the textures aren't quite as high fidelity as they could be but the way the colour and contrast filters are used, the tasteful and realistic looking motion blur, the artistic design of the areas and the atmosphere that the sparse soundtrack creates (consisting mainly of sword clashes, footsteps, low rumbles and wind noises and the occaisional boss theme or sorrowful string melody) combine to really sell Lordran as an alive, majestic and deadly place.
The mood and atmosphere of the game really is second to none. The lore is very rich, despite it being woven into the game's fabric with great subtlety and the game's graphical fidelity on PC helps to hammer it home further, with the details of statues, decorative floor tiling and architectural complexity becoming leaps and bounds clearer.
To put it succincty:
If you were to make a case for being a graphics whore as a means to enhance a game's artistic intent, this game could (and probably should) be it.
This leads me on to another point. This may be a "bad port" but it's still absolutely the definitive version of this masterwork of a game. With Durante's Res Fix and a Mouse Fix (only saw this on the steam forums in passing; I have no actual experience with it myself as I used a PS3 controller,) there is zero excuse to not buy this game. I implore each and every PC gamer who feels scorned in some way by the sloppy porting job and the inclusion of GFWL to find it in their hearts to let that slip. The game is perfectly stable, looks stunning, plays fantastically with a controller (and it seems like it has the potential to play pretty damn well with a mouse and keyboard too at the time of writing,) and offers a truly unique action-RPG experience.
Buy this game, because if you do we may just get to see a proper PC version of the next installment of the hallowed Souls series and wouldn't that be something...
(Disclaimer: I am not a PC fanboy, I love all gaming platforms equally. Just incase anyone tries to call me some kind of PC elitist or something..
Also I wrote this while rather sleep deprived. Apologies for any bad spelling or grammar in advance. Don't hestitate to point any mistakes out, I'll endeavour to fix them immediately! If you enjoyed/disliked my write-up please let me know too, and give reasons as to why, I'd like to develop my writing style further.
Peace out - Lysergica33)