Dark Souls II: Impressions (contains spoilers)

I'm going off the cuff after some ~7 hours of fumbling around in the Forest zone. I had played some Demon's Soul, and played and watched all the Dark Souls content on the site. I'm familiar enough with the mechanics and decided to pick up DSII instead of Titanfall this week. Here's how I feel so far:

  • I died really early in the game, as I was fucking about on my livestream. It was worth it for the achievement and to say "Yep, this game is going to fuck with me, as expected." Thanks for caring, From Software.
  • I love the look of the zones I've seen so far. The dirty texturing from Dark Souls seems to be gone and I am really looking forward to see how the PC version looks.
  • I spent way too much time going back and forth between the hub area, and the Forest Castle where the stone maiden is blocking the switch. I assumed that was the way to go, and ultimately had spent around 90 minutes going back and forth between the Hub, the Sewer and the Stone Maiden before I finally found the coastal route to the actual Forest zone.
  • Fuck ranged attacks and casting magic. I want to stab all the things with my sword.
  • I get super impatient during the boss battle with The Giant. Took me several attempts but I finally figured out a good way to work the combat. I dropped a note outside the boss room, got a few rate+s out of it. I feel like I'm participating! :D
  • The shield/pike/axe skeletons in the upper castle areas in the Forest zone are assholes, but I think I hate the Turtle Armor/fatties more. Either way, it comes down to my own patience with the combat and I'll get there, eventually.

So a few hours in, I've killed some bosses, grinded some souls and used a few Human effigy items. I'm going to finish this game and I'm glad I was in during the first few days. No FAQs for now, that'll be NG+ stuff to see things I missed.

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We'll miss you, Ryan.

Ryan's passing was strangely shocking to me. The impact that Ryan had been a part of my daily routine for several years through podcasts, videos and other content was the most apparent when I went to the site on Monday to see that he had passed away.

Shocked, is really the worst way to describe it. I was gutted. To feel this upset about a person I'd never met, I was conflicted. But Ryan was someone who shared their life, not only because of their job, but through his own actions - people who followed him through his own journey. We may never have met, but I had exchanged some Twitter replies with Ryan and he was always cool about it. I imagine like many of the GiantBomb hosts, he had a fair share of nonsense emailed/pm'd/tweeted at him daily, it was nice to see someone who I enjoyed listening to so much respond to my 140 characters.

His candid insight into just about ANYTHING was always interesting and he was legitimately the host of hosts when it came to all the E3 Bombcasts. His ability to shift between games, comics, movies and more showed his versatility in the role. His ability to lighten the mood even while cutting through someone with verbal barbs was always a treat, as he wasn't breaking them down, but it was purely a sign that he was letting them know he was paying attention and cared.

I didn't really have anyone to talk to about this. Most of my close friends rely on me to be the "game news" guy who visits game sites regularly. I ran into another GB user at work of all places, also wearing a GB Tshirt. We stopped and just fist bumped, and shared a brief chat about how awful its been the last few days. Even for the few minutes we reminisced about the great Ryan content on the front page, it was key that we both reflected on how much we'll miss his input.

I'm honestly worried about listening to the newest Bombcast. I know the crew will do their best, but this is hardly a closing chapter for any of us, I feel. My thoughts are with all the crew, Anna and Ryan's family - and the rest of us. Users who feel like a part of a legit community, no matter if we're forum goers, chat trolls or even just subscribed to the Bombcast - maybe all of us can learn from Ryan to love life and put focus into the things that matter like family and friends and fucking laughter.

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My 2012 Top Ten

  1. Borderlands 2 - While my first few hours of Borderlands 2 felt kinda "meh", I came to really enjoy murdering the zany cavalcade of robots, monsters and whatever else Gearbox's shooter could throw at me. Zer0's haikus were a plus too. DLC has been solid and this may be one of the few surprising titles that engrossed me all year.
  2. Assassin's Creed III - This new chapter of Assassin's Creed gave me what I wanted. Stabbin' more dudes in virtual DNA Land. It's Desmond's story that I will always be drawn to, but what a great experience.
  3. The Walking Dead - It's rare that a game makes me feel remorse or sad. Seeing A or B choices about who I'm going to save appear on screen are depressing as I know I'm about to make a decision where someone is going to die. The humanity check at the end of an episode that shows how other players have made their decisions is a neat mechanic that works with the genre, but also to see how many people are seeing altered events because of their choices. Also, some people are assholes.
  4. Trials Evolution - Thrown a controller yet this year? If not, play Trials.
  5. Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 - I got the explosions and crazy CoD action movie experience, but a refined multiplayer experience (even on the PC, the matchmaking works very well) and maps that make sense for the most part, this is a solid title in the franchise that churns out the "aim down sights, shoot bros" once a year.
  6. Hotline Miami - What an oddball indie title. But I'll be damned if I didn't play this for 3 days straight trying to speedrun through maps. Part puzzle game, part mayhem simulator, part top down shooter, Hotline Miami's wacky plot brings you along the ride of a possible nutcase, drug addict or worse and see how masks can alter one's ability to kill dudes with a door.
  7. Theatrhythm Final Fantasy - This is the Final Fantasy game that hopefully no one with a 3DS missed this year. Brad's quick look mostly explains the mechanics, but this was an engrossing title that I still pick up and plug away at from time to time, leveling up other characters or looking for more unlocks.
  8. Halo 4 - Finish the fight againnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.... More Master Chief can't be wrong.
  9. Max Payne 3 - This is bizarro Max Payne. Shaved head, broad daylight murdering in the favelas.... But a fun 3rd person shooter with a lot of opening doors to murder more thugs. Almost like Hotline Miami...
  10. Gravity Rush - Now that PS+ is available on the Vita, you have to download and play this game. Kat's gravity bending adventure is a fun action title, but one that makes good use of all of the Vita's main functionalites. A cool art style, solid controls and unique story are brought together with comic book styled cutscenes.
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Finishing the games of 2011...

After my last post regarding "The Stack", I've made more effort to finish games instead of adding them to that growing pile.

Didn't help that Steam Sale + Christmas dumped another 10 titles in my lap, and I haven't even broken the 10hour mark in Skyrim... I started playing other games.

Uncharted 3 - Finished. Some really good "Holy shit" moments, but I certainly enjoyed Uncharted 2 more. Overall this is just more Uncharted, and there is nothing wrong with that. I really want to see behind the scenes stuff on the mo-cap; will likely pick up the book that Nolan North is promoting.

Skyward Sword - I'm far enough into this right now to know that this is what I expected from Twilight Princess. Its unfortunate that the Wii is not really HD (480P doesn't count) but this game still looks great all things considered.

I still have RAAM's Shadow to play through, and Saints Row 3. A friend dropped a copy of White Knight Chronicles 2 on me (which includes WKC1)... and that game goes pretty deep having played a few hours of it so far. I'm on the edge of that pool, and am trying to decide if its worth jumping in, or turning away.

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The Stack: Titles that will never be played.

Compulsive purchases, games that were not priorities, or even just being caught at a good price in a Steam Sale - we all have games that end up in a pile of 'never to be played' titles.

I can count probably 15 titles alone for my Xbox 360 that I've purchased, and not even sunk more than a few hours into. Games that I want to play, like Dead Space 2 or Red Dead Redemption, that will probably not see time in my disc tray. I tried to figure out why, I don't remember having this problem with games when I was a kid, or even as a teen with my PS2 titles. I religiously finished and even replayed titles on a regular basis. Now that I'm an adult with a disposable income, I'm walking out of Walmart with 2 or 3 titles thinking "Man, I want to play this game so bad" only to let it gather dust on my shelf. Do I keep buying games just because I can? I knowingly picked up Ocarina of Time 3D last week when I still have to finish Infamous 2, Assassins Creed Brotherhood and keep trying to finish of Shao Khan and the Tower mode in Mortal Kombat. I don't really need another copy of Ocarina, but I also haven't touched my 360 or PS3 in the last few days because of it. Who's to say I don't roll in with another 360 game to play next week and we forget all about AC:B or MK and play the flavor of the week.

Maybe its a commitment issue.

Shit, maybe this is what my last girlfriend was talking about.... Nah.

"The Stack" will keep growing, that is for sure. If I can start to reduce its numbers by finishing off existing titles is another question all together.

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