Upgrading your weapon will help a lot. I believe spears need sharpstone, and you can get it from those Phalanx enemies, they also drop hardstone for blunt weapons which are really good against the skeletons in the shrine of storms.
morecowbell24's forum posts
I thought about including a Prince song, but I ended up unable to commit to any. I'm surprised I didn't think of that one, it really fits the bill.
I never met the man and feel like I lost a friend. A good one at that. I can't imagine how it must feel for those who truly knew him. I offer my sincerest condolences to his wife and the whole Giantbomb crew and all those that knew and loved him. He will be missed.
@dhunter329: It seems like it's one of those question marks that MS needs to answer. Their policies are pretty unclear still. You might find it somewhere if you look at enough interviews or xbox forums, but I haven't heard much regarding what exactly happens. As far as I can tell it seems like the answer is, don't get banned.
When we look back to this generation from the next From Software's Demon's Souls and Dark Souls will be two of the revolutionary games we put on a pedestal. Their online innovations, their return to the punishing days of yore, their atmosphere, their refined and precise gameplay. Those things, and that in a time when the "games as art" is being pushed harder and harder, and story is becoming more and more important, they reminded us that it doesn't have to be.
Demon's Souls managed to get gamers' and critics' attention alike, but it wasn't always as positive. Dark Souls got more people's attention, and while it wasn't always positive, the positive stuff seemed to be a lot louder compared to Demon's Souls. Both games sold well and found their audiences, albeit Dark Souls sold better and reached a larger audiences. Why though, does Dark Souls seem to be so much more loved than Demon's Souls? What does it do better?
This debate won't be unlike a Super Castlevania IV vs. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night dispute, which is fitting, because the Souls series isn't unlike how I envision what a 3D Castlevania should be. Dark Souls features the Metroidvania style of Symphony of the Night with its open world, while Demon's Souls features more linearity akin to the original Castlevania and a Mega Man-like hub world. Both styles have their advantages and disadvantages. It would seem the interconnected world of Dark Souls is preferred. It's odd to me that in a time when time is of the essence to everyone, that the slower open world treks from one end to the other are the preferred route. Of course the type of gamers that are going to enjoy the Souls games are sure to have time on their hands. Still, in order to decide to pursue a different angle on advancing through Dark Souls or even just to find a shop owner, I have to go back the way I came, and fight through the hordes of baddies I had just struggled to make it past. Dark Souls does do a good job with the shortcuts, but even so, these journeys can be treacherous and time consuming.
In Demon's Souls I merely have to hit an archstone at the beginning of each area to be brought to the nexus, where I can buy, sell and store items, level up, as well as pick a level to tackle next. It's convenient and fast. Load times may break the immersion and it also loses the popular metroidvania gameplay element. However, I believe Demon's Souls to offer the best of both worlds. It has the linearity of Super Castlevania IV, but each level once completed in a world is connected to the other until the end of that world. There are also several secret areas and world tendency events that beg you to return to those worlds even after their completion, giving Demon's Souls that reason to go back motif that defines a lot of metroidvania.
Demon's Souls and Dark Souls' level and world design feel very well thought out. Both have thoughtful shortcuts, hidden paths, and nooks for loot as well as nooks for hiding. There is an atmosphere in the air of these games, and everything comes together to make it so. The artistic direction is quite similar in both games, but it's easy to see why Dark Souls has its name and Demon's Souls has its name. Dark Souls is more often than not, really dark. The color palette is darker, the places you go are darker, and even the brightest of areas are often dark. Demon's Souls is deceptively bright in some areas. It has plenty of its own dark spots, but the brighter areas bring hope, however false it may be. For third person games the everything works to immerse the players into their experiences. The haunting and epic music, the ambient noises, and disturbing sounds of a blade cutting through flesh, bone and armor all just ramp up the immersion. Suffice it to say that both games feature great, distinct and often disgusting senses of style and atmosphere, but as you may have guessed I like Demon's Souls' warped senses a bit more.
Boss battles are another big part of the Souls games. Those classic fights you remember against Bowser, Metal Man, Dracula, they don't readily exist in modern games much anymore. The Souls games do their best to change that and reinvigorate the ideas of boss battles. In Demon's Souls every boss plays quite differently. The tutorial boss welcomes you to the game with a giant ax in what is a supposed to lose fight, that can be won, and I won't spoil the surprise of that. The first major boss is features dozens of enemies grouped tightly together. Minibosses litter levels, such as dragons and black phantoms. The several towering bosses each have their own weaknesses and strengths. One boss uses its hearing to find you since it is blind, and another comes at you relentlessly often with area of effect attacks. There is a boss that will be fought over and over until a certain deed is done in the level preceding it, so it can truly be defeated. Some bosses fly around, one regenerates health, another can cause you to lose a level, and there is even one boss battle that you can even be for somebody else. Demon's Souls bosses set a new standard for what can be expected and done with boss battles. A lot of games may have a handful of great, memorable bosses, but for Demon's Souls to make each and every one just as memorable as the next, is quite the achievement.
Dark Souls boss battles often approach the brilliance of Demon's Souls' boss battles, but also come up short. While it's probably cool to a lot of people, I find that encountering bosses as common enemies later in the game to be discrediting to that boss battle, and in Dark Souls there are several boss battles like this. Many of these boss fights were great too. However when you took away the confined spaces of boss arenas, many of these "bosses" were revealed to be not much different from any other standard enemy. Some bosses can be pretty thrilling, the bosses in the abyss, an invisible boss, and a twin boss fight that becomes harder when one of the bosses goes down. And just when you think the boss front is looking up, you fight the same boss for a third time, and its just reskinned. Boss battles in Dark Souls are still leagues ahead of just about any other game this generation, but it's hard to compare them to Demon's Souls' fights and not feel a little underwhelmed.
The online features of both games are outstanding precedents for gaming. The seamless online integration in what is an otherwise singleplayer experience make the Souls games stand out. Demon's Souls started it with messages that can be read for hints and tips, or laid anywhere to guide or mislead players in alternate worlds. Other players show up in your world as white apparitions, showing that someone is in the same boat as you. Bloodstains litter the ground like the messages, and serve a similar purpose, recapping the last moments of someone in another world, which you could see as a warning or perhaps as a symbol of your triumph over an area where others have failed. Then of course there are the black, blue and red eye stones. When in soul form a player can lay any of these stones to enter another world as a phantom. The blue eye stone is the most commonly used. When in human form, you have the ability to see blue eye stones, and when activated the stone drags the person that laid it in their world to your world, so that you can work together to conquer an area, a cooperative element. When the black eye stone is laid the stone searches for a world to invade. Invading a world initiates the games PvP element, and it lends itself to many great duels, or if the person invaded had already summoned some blue phantoms, the black phantom may have drawn the short straw. The red eye stone operates as cross between the other two stones. Like the blue stone, it shows up in other peoples' worlds and must be activated by them, however the terms of the summoning are for PvP like the black stone. The idea that all of these "game modes" and gameplay elements are seamlessly integrated into the singleplayer game is a striking proposition, and Dark Souls took it further conceptually, but stumbled along the way.
Dark Souls' online features the same bloodstains, white apparitions, and messages. The message system however, took a step backwards. In Demon's Souls with a few presses of a button you could lay and recommend messages. In Dark Souls you need to cycle through your inventory and actually use an item to lay and recommend messages. It's a hassle, and it has lead to less activity on the message front of the online element in Dark Souls. The invasions and cooperative play are still present and work better because of the limited number of healing players can do, which also lends itself to less tedious item management, on the fly at least. The new faction system, really adds some depth to the whole online scheme of things. It provides additional stake and makes things more interesting. However, it's a very complex and convoluted system that requires a wiki (or some serious in game research) to fully understand it.
The magic systems are slightly different, and for multiplayer purposes Dark Souls is better, though there is something about having a blue mana bar I like. Dark Souls also ditches the grass healing system in favor of a better for multiplayer alternative, a limited number of heals flask system, but for singleplayer purposes I go for Demon's Souls and grinding for all the healing items I can carry should I so choose. Dark Souls also ditches item burden, which in Demon's Souls limited the weight of items you could carry. In Dark Souls you can carry everything you want. It certainly makes up for the tedium that is the bottomless box that Dark Souls has, but again, for singleplayer purposes I like having to decide what loot I'm to bring to where.
Perhaps the biggest thing that can be said in favor of Demon's Souls is that someone tells me I have a heart of gold all the time, that and he stores and keeps all your stuff organized neatly.
I'm not sure how most people feel about the Souls games, but from what I've observed in my time on the internets, it would appear that Dark Souls is the better of the two. I offered my perspective on them both, and I prefer Demon's Souls. Either way, both are outstanding examples of game design, and if you consider yourself a gamer and haven't given either a shot, you should strongly consider doing so.
The timing of this post is not inconsequential. The Demon's Souls servers have managed to stay afloat for longer than anyone expected, but it would appear that all good things must come to an end. May 31st marks that end. It's time to send a game that redefined my expectations of what games can be off in style. Demon's Souls' online will be missed, but not forgotten. For now though, I embark on my last Demon's Souls online quest, to get that monk hat.
As you might have guessed from the crossed out paragraph above, I wrote this in response to the Demon's Souls servers shutting down. The day after I wrote this however, the servers were said to be staying up. A lot has happened since then too. The PC rallied and got its version of Dark Souls with new content that today comes to consoles, and I've been assured that a new patch makes the online a much better experience. So while I never got to explore the realm of the giants in Boletaria, I will get to explore more of Lordran. And for now, I think that is enough.
From Software, a friend has something to say to you. His name is Stockpile Thomas. "You have a heart of gold. Don't let them take it from you."
@BurningStickMan: Interesting I'll look into it.
@Maginnovision: I agree that System Shock 2 is better. However, that doesn't change that I've seen countless shooters brought up in FPS discussion more often than System Shock even when System Shock 2 is among those mentioned. It must be true that I spend my time on the internets in the wrong places, because in FPS discussions, Half-Life, Half-Life 2 and its episodes always take center stage; the hybrids focused on are generally Deus Ex and Bioshock with some System Shock 2 and maybe Riddick (pretty rare too actualy) mixed in; early classics like Doom, Duke Nukem 3D and Wolfenstein 3D (Even games like Blood, HeXen and Heretic seem more likely to see in these discussions); the console classics Halo, GoldenEye, Timesplitters, Perfect Dark, Killzone and Resistance; the competitive multiplayer experiences Quake and Unreal Tournament; there are the multiplayer offshoots Counter-Strike, Tribes, Team Fortress, AvP and Enemy Territory; the hardcore and tactical shooters like ArmA, Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six; The military shooters, Battlefield, Brothers in Arms, Call of Duty and Medal of Honor; the throwbacks Serious Sam and Painkiller; the games with unprecedented graphics of their time, Unreal, Far Cry, and Crysis; and there are plenty others I could mention that I've seen brought up in FPS discussion. It's crazy how I've seen all of these games and most of their sequels brought up more often than System Shock 1 when discussing either the greatest games of all time, FPS games in general, the greatest FPS, the revolutionary FPS, or even just that hybrid category.
As for Omikron, I really liked Heavy Rain, but I haven't been able to get into Indigo Prophecy, I fear my luck would be even worse with Omikron. Still I wouldn't mind giving it a shot if it were rereleased somewhere, and I agree that it is a more obscure game than System Shock.
This is largely based on my perceptions and observations on various forums and reading greatest of all time or top FPS lists on various sites. I've sparingly seen it mentioned. System Shock 2 gets mentions pretty frequently, but there is always that "2" after it. I've seen some recognition here and there, but nowhere near to the point of shooters of its era like Doom or other smarter shooters like Half-Life or even its successor System Shock 2 based on my perceptions. It always strikes me as odd that its recognition isn't closer to those games since "greatness", for better or for worse, seems so built around precedents. I guess part of me just wanted to wrap my head around that, and another part me just likes talking/writing about System Shock :D
I think you're probably in one of two camps, and I think I have an idea of what you're thinking. Well, three camps with the camp, "I have no idea what you're talking about," but let's just ignore that camp's existence.
There is camp "I've played Bioshock or I know about Bioshock being awesome or whatever." Those of you in this camp might recall that Bioshock is a spiritual successor to System Shock 2, but you haven't played it because its old and gross. Well, you wouldn't be wrong, because it is old, and parts of it are gross, but that doesn't mean it's not worth your time. Yes, the game is ugly by today's standards, but that doesn't stop you from playing Ocarina of Time for the bazillionth time does it? Also while you may have thought I was referring to the graphics as gross, that was only partially what I was referring to. System Shock 2 is a horrifying game to this day, more horrifying than almost anything that has come after it. If nothing else, play it for its villain, but more on that later. Obvious sales pitch aside, you're probably thinking, "do I really need to read about how awesome System Shock 2 is again? I thought this was great unsung games, and I've heard enough good things for to be a sung game..."
And there's camp "I've played Bioshock and System Shock 2." Good on you for playing System Shock 2. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I get the feeling you're thinking, "do I really need to read about how awesome System Shock 2 is again? I thought this was great unsung games, and I've heard enough good things for to be a sung game..."
Well that's all well and good, because we're not talking about System Shock 2. We're talking about System Shock... ONE! (mostly)
It's amazing really, two cult hits, one franchise, games that grew to inspire one of the biggest names in gaming today, Bioshock. It's amazing, because no one seems to even acknowledge that the first System Shock even exists, like the series that started and ended with one game that had a "2" after its title because it was cool and edgy. I see it all the time on the top 100 greatest games lists, System Shock 2 and Bioshock generally make appearances (deservedly so), but the original System Shock is almost always absent. Even Ken Levine (the mastermind of System Shock 2 and Bioshock) regularly cites the first System Shock game as one of his top 5 favorite games of all time, like he too has noticed that nobody even remembers that the game exists.
It being forgotten might have something to do with so few people having played it, the lack of multiplayer or maybe the rights currently being in limbo has something to do with it. Maybe it was just too ahead of its time to be remembered in 1994 when id Software ruled the first person shooter market, and mindless (still awesome) romps like Doom II were all the rage.
System Shock was the first smart first person shooter. Some people don't like calling it a FPS, but rather a RPG. By today's standards it's probably more shooter than RPG, and it's certainly more shooter than System Shock 2. However, it should be noted that it was among the first games to blend multiple genres together seamlessly. I suppose in 1994 it might have also been considered horror in the same way Doom or Quake was, but probably to a little bit larger extent because of its antagonist. As if that weren't enough, the game has level/world design similar to that of Metroid. So, what does that make this game, a FPS/RPG Horror Action Adventure game? It probably doesn't matter how its classified, just that these things are noted.
You play as the H-h-h-h-hacker, a pathetic creature of meat and bone. After you were caught hacking into a corporate network, you unleash S.H.O.D.A.N. the A.I. of Citadel Station for you're freedom and an implant. You wake up six months after recovering from your implant surgery on Citadel Station to see that it is corrupt and under, the now rogue, S.H.O.D.A.N.'s control, and you must escape.
Already there is more story to System Shock than Doom. The rest of the story unfolds in what should be familiar to you should you have played System Shock 2 or Bioshock. You can find log discs and you receive e-mails and transmissions. Log discs function in the same way that audio diaries from Bioshock do. They aren't key to advancing the story, but they provide interesting insights as to what has happened and what is going on to Citadel Station and can be found throughout the game. Transmissions operate in the same way the radio does in Bioshock. S.H.O.D.A.N. or other characters will contact you similarly to the way Andrew Ryan or Atlas from Bioshock would radio you.
When the game was first released on floppy discs, there was no voice acting, but for the CD version released a few months later voice acting was added. Some of the people behind the game believe that releasing the floppy version was a mistake and part of the reason it wasn't that successful.
The core FPS gameplay is similar to that of Doom, but with additional features like leaning, crouching, and crawling. You can also look, up and down as well as left and right which wasn't a feature id implemented in their games until Quake. You might think that these features might make the game a little more playable today as opposed to Doom, but one look at the HUD will tell you different. It's certainly playable, but there is so much going on with that HUD that it's not that accessible these days, which is probably another reason it is ignored.
Most unlike Doom however, there is an inventory, and more weapon options than anyone could have needed in 1994. There are land mines, and several kinds of grenades and bombs. There are a couple of melee weapons, one being a laser rapier. Then there are several different kinds of guns all with different kinds of ammo. As if that weren't enough there are drugs you can take, for increased strength, better sight, other things, or just the standard health pack. There is so much stuff that it's hard to keep track of it all, but if you ever wanted to use an absurdly high rate of fire flechette loaded with splinter rounds while hopped up on the reflex drug that slows down time, System Shock can make that happen.
What's also quite different from its other first person shooter contemporaries is the level design. You're not just racing from entrance to exit slaying baddies along the way. You're exploring a space station with multiple floors that can be accessed by various elevators. In a way similar to Metroid you'll find things that will grant you access to new areas on floors you've already visited. The levels aren't themselves aren't as well designed as something like Super Metroid, and it can be easy to get lost, but there is a map that helps. This style of level design meant no checkpoints beyond going to different floors, but there was a remedy for that too. Within each level a medical station could be turned on, and when you died you were reconstructed there. It's the same idea as the Bioshock Vita-Chambers. Death meant game over until they were activated and they weren't always easy to find, so the game is challenging. However, once you find those stations, most of the game becomes trivial.
There are also cyberspace sections that make use of your hacker background. These sections have you traveling through a vector style grid space with a look reminiscent of older games like BattleZone. It plays sort of like a more confined Wing Commander, where you collect things and destroy various objects to complete side objectives or gain new access to areas on the station.
Speaking of objectives, there are some more meaningful than the standard finding the exits and slaying cyberdemons. Most of them aren't important to advancement, such as destroying cameras diminishes S.H.O.D.A.N.'s presence. Others like destroying mainframes are more important. In one case I had to turn on a switch, but I forgot to do something before turning on that switch. What might be one of the most brilliant things to ever happen in video games ensued.
I got a game over screen, but that wasn't it. I destroyed Earth. Because of my haste and negligence billions of people died, and throughout this happening, the rogue A.I. I was trying to stop from doing the same thing, S.H.O.D.A.N., taunted me.
Despite all of these things, the most memorable aspect of System Shock isn't that it was arguably the most groundbreaking first person shooter of all time. It's its antagonist, the rogue A.I. S.H.O.D.A.N. Her distorted tones and voice induces chills of the body. She belittles you at every turn. She is out to destroy her creators after being unleashed. She manipulates everything and everyone she can, turning humans into cyber warriors for her bidding. She wants nothing more than to be a God, not only a creator, but a ruler and destroyer. It's because of her, that the game I want most is System Shock 3, and it's a shame, because some insurance company owns the rights and isn't selling them at a reasonable price. Who knows, maybe something better is in pipeline, or maybe my dreams will come true.
"In my talons, I shape clay, crafting life forms as I please. If I wish, I can smash it all. Around me is a burgeoning empire of steel. From my throne room, lines of power careen into the skies of Earth. My whims will become lightning bolts that raze the mounds of humanity. Out of the chaos, they will run and whimper, praying for me to end their tedious anarchy. I am drunk with this vision. God: the title suits me well."