Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Party Game Sundays: Our House:Party!


When I heard that Landers had purchased a game that was Home Depot themed I didn't believe him. Then I actually saw the game, and immediately thought that it would be horrible. Landers on the other hand had faith that it would be enjoyable. Somehow he was actually right and in a crazy turn of events Our House Party was a pretty fun game. Also, in case you were wondering it totally does play the song Our House by Crosby,Stills, and Nash during the intro...

The goal of the game is to make your house as dope as possible. Obviously you do that by playing mini-games. In the beginning you need to choose one of twelve home improvement projects to work on. Once that's decided the game throws you right into a Home Depot! In the store you can purchase tools in exchange for screws, which are the games currency. Each tool is a power-up for specific mini-games. I didn't find any of them helpful, so I tended to run my cart around the store and use it to block all the other players from buying things. It worked sometimes.

There's a game where all you do is smash things!

After the shopping portion the game moves you into a series of mini-games. Each home improvement project is made up of 2 to 5 themed mini-games. At the end of each project your rank determines how well it comes out. So if you come in first place when improving your lawn it looks amazing and is worth a butt-load of money, but if you come in fourth it looks like someone took a flamethrower to it. At the end of the game whichever player's house is worth the most money wins, or at least that's what I assume happens. When we were three projects away from finishing the game hard locked the Wii. It locked up so badly that we had to unplug the console, because it wouldn't turn off... It took us a long time to get to that point, so we decided not to go through it all again.

We didn't want to go through it again, but that doesn't mean that Our House Party isn't a fun game. The mini-games are actually pretty varied and control well. They were eventually repeating, but they were far enough apart that it didn't matter. I got to mow lawns, dig holes, and even tile floors! I still don't know how I should feel about enjoying a mini-game that had me tiling floors. Hell, even digging holes was fun. We had to dig our own hole, while shoveling the dirt into a different hole. What was cool was that every mini-game was conducive to sabotaging your opponents. This meant that we rarely focused on completing the tasks the game handed us, but instead messed with each other the entire time.

The mini-games are all about screwing with your opponents.

What I really don't understand is why Home Depot decided they needed their own video game. Nothing about this game made me think about Home Depot, except for the part where you needed to shop for tools inside of one. Some of the loading screens were flyers too, but that's really it. Kids are certainly the target audience for this and they don't tend to want to shop for tools. Kids also don't care about improving their homes for the most part. I know I've said it multiple times now, but the most puzzling part of the whole thing is that the game is actually well put together. Sure, the load times are a bit long, but it plays well and actually has a wide variety of activities. I wouldn't mind playing it again, once I get over the hard locking incident.

     -Manny

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Party Game Sundays: Raving Rabbids TV Party




Somehow I missed all the Raving Rabbid games. I know that they began as a Rayman thing, but quickly spun out into their own wacky shenanigans. That was about all I knew about the Rabbids prior to this game, was that they were crazy. After playing I can safely say that my knowledge checks out. The Rabbids are totally crazy.

When we know that a party game is good we tend to hype it up to ourselves. This is mainly due to the fact that we play a bunch of garbage on Party Game Sundays. This led to me being a bit dissapointed by Raving Rabbids TV Party. It's a great selection of mini-games and most of them work well. None of them blew my mind or anything though, even the overall premise wasn't super funny.

Sure, rabbits in a wrestling ring. That sounds about right.

The Rabbids somehow got control of a TV studio and they're producing all kinds of weird programming. All of this programming is what you're playing in mini-game form. The TV analogy goes a level deeper, in that when a player is behind in a game they can activate an ad break. Whichever player does what the ad asks for first they'll get a boost to help them in the min-game. It's an interesting concept, but it really doesn't add anything to the overall experience. You're still playing a bunch of mini-games with weird loony rabbits.

I personally like rhythm mini-games and this game was chock full of them, perhaps a little too many of them. One had you dancing to licensed music by putting the Wii-mote out into certain hot dance positions. This is fun the first time, but when you see the game keep coming up in the list to choose from it gets a bit tiring. They have the same mini-game named different things for different musical tracks. The same thing goes for the other musical mini-game, which was essentially a crappy version of Guitar Hero. You just had to hit the button when an icon crossed the right area of the screen. It's impressive that Ubisoft got a whole bunch of licensed music, but it's less impressive that they didn't come up with more games to use that music in. Playing the exact same mini-games twelve or so times is dumb.

Yes, I did bust out some hot dance moves.

I specifically bring up the rhythm based games, because that's what I remember the most clearly. There were a ton more games however, and quite a bit of variation in those. One that didn't work so hot had you drawing lines and shapes with the wii-more in order to break through asteroids. It didn't work super well for me. Most of the time I would need to draw a straight line and the game wouldn't even be able to recognize it...

There were a lot of games that were compatible with the Wii balance board, but sadly we didn't have one. Without the balance board the games amounted to using the Wii-mote to steer some sort of vehicle. One of them had us snowboarding down a mountain weaving in-between flags. One of the weirder games had us dressing up the Rabbids to meet certain requirements. They didn't necessarily make sense, so it was kind of hard to determine how I was supposed to make a Hillbilly with a sense of style.

mmmhmmm

Overall the game was well put together and I think that if I was younger I would have liked the game a whole lot more. It has a manic feel to it, and the mini-games controlled in a manner that didn't make me want to smash everything. It was a cool game, so we might end up playing other games in the series at some point.

     -Manny

Party Game Sundays: King of Clubs

I promised that I'd eventually get around to writing about a god awful game, and today is that day. I have not been this distraught while playing a video game in a long time. I'm going to preface this by saying that Landers was advised that he could not return the game after he broke the shrink wrap. He purchased the miniature golf themed game King of Clubs at Gamestop for the incredible sum of $3. The employee on staff took it upon themselves to let him know that once the seal was broken he would no longer be able to get his $3 back. Much to my dismay the seal was broken, and I was forced to play King of Clubs.

This game has been in Landers' pile of games for many months now. Every Sunday when asked to choose a game I tried to put off King of Clubs. See, I don't find good golf games enjoyable, so playing an awful miniature golf game wasn't exactly on the top of my to do list. In an unsurprising turn of events the game upset me greatly.

If you ever see this cover, avoid it!

To start off there's a cinematic of these weirdos dressed in themed costumes. For some reason they're in a TV studio and it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. The characters all have golf themed names like King Putt, which might be the best part of the game. I guess the costumes are themed along with each of the golf courses, but I don't know for sure since you need to unlock courses by playing the game. Hopefully I never have to find out what the other course themes are, but I can tell you that the first is prehistoric. There's a whole bunch of lava and dinosaurs.

Prior to starting the course you need to pick a character and buy equipment. I opted out of buying equipment, because I didn't care. However, you do have the option to buy various types of balls and clubs. For some reason you can also buy sound packs, which come into play while your opponents are playing. If you mash the B button sounds will play in an attempt to distract them. The catch is that it's not distracting at all... Luckily the distraction doesn't matter, because of the controls.

Look at the beautiful graphics!

The controls themselves are bullshit. You're forced to use a nunchuck, which I assumed would be used to position your golf swing. Instead what it does is control the camera in a completely useless fashion! You need to use the d-pad in order to position your shot. A colored line will sometimes appear coming off your club to show you the trajectory of your ball. I say sometimes, because the shot line would disappear at random. We would be playing and then all of a sudden none of us would be able to aim properly anymore with absolutely no indication as to why. 

When putting a power bar will appear, which is supposed to be controlled by swinging the Wii-remote like an actual golf club. That doesn't work, so I had to twist the Wii-remote in various ways to make my power increase. I can't tell you exactly how, because it was different almost every time. Once you do have the desired power you hold A and swing. Once again the swinging doesn't work as intended. Sometimes it was fine, other times I could flail the Wii-remote violently and have absolutely nothing happen.

Unsurprisingly it's hard to find pictures of this terrible game.

What really bothered me though was the complete lack of physics King of Clubs had on display. Say you hit a ball up a hill and it stops halfway. You'd expect it to roll back down, but not in this game! Instead it gets caught in the middle and goes nowhere. The lack of physics continues with just about every collision in the game. For some reason hitting walls and obstacles would vary between making the ball stop completely, or sending it off in a direction that makes no sense. 

I can't even make this post funny! It was just an awful golf game. It controlled poorly and made me want to cry a little bit. The course was only 9 holes, and we didn't even finish it! At some point the four of us playing just decided that we'd had enough and I shut the Wii off in despair. At least most of the games we play on Sundays are funny, but this was not one of them. I don't want to play King of Clubs ever again. Thinking about it makes me sad and angry. 

I leave you with this 4 star amazon review of the game.
"this i a fun game once you figure out the controles the instruction book does not explane the controles but once you figure them out this game is a blast"

     -Manny

Party Game Sundays: The Amazing Race



We've been sitting on The Amazing Race for months, because in order to properly play we needed four people. In case you've never seen the long running CBS reality show I'll explain it a bit for you. There are multiple teams of two, and their goal is to travel to various destinations around the globe. Each episode of the show is considered a "leg" of the race. So teams will travel to various places and compete in challenges. At the end of the leg the last team to arrive is eliminated. Sometimes it's more than one, but for the sake of this game it's only one at a time.

So, the game is kind of like that. You make a team of two and you compete in stupid mini-games, while ridiculous load times and stuttering happen. When we were playing I could hear the Wii reading the disc very loudly. It was even happening when nothing was really going on. There are short vignettes where the host of the show will have some terrible pre-recorded voice-over and they are literally two seconds long. The freaking console would kick into high gear reading the disc and then the frame-rate of the poorly rendered version of the host would drop drastically all in a two second period.

This looks just like Phil Keoghan!

With that being said the game itself was alright. We chose to play five legs, but only ended up doing four. At the beginning of each you choose a plane to take to your destination. Some will be faster, but cost more money. So generally we would pick the free plane in order to save funds for a faster ride later. This eventually came back to bite me and my teammate in the ass. The same thing would be done at the end of each leg to reach the final destination, except with buses and taxis.

In one of the legs my friend Justin and I were three hours ahead, which in terms of the show would mean exactly that. We would get to leave three hours before everyone else. That wasn't the case in the game. We ended up getting eliminated in the fourth leg, because we chose the free plane and got pretty far behind. We thought we'd be okay, because of our three hour lead in the previous leg. Turns out the previous times mean literally nothing, so we were eliminated. Not taking the previous legs time into account means that only your results in the final leg matter as long as you don't get eliminated prior to that.

Don't pick the free one. Trust me...

Needless to say I felt pretty cheated, but on top of that the game itself wasn't even really super great. The mini-games also had some hot frame dropping problems. I only remember two of the mini-games. One had us scrubbing plates clean to discover a specific symbol. The other had us counting down time so that we could push A when the timer was close to zero. We played the timer one a few times. There might have been one about water balloons too? I don't know we played three games that week.

     -Manny

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Game Time - July 2014

July was an insanely good month for gaming. It somehow turned into ridiculous anime game month even though I didn't mean for it to.

I started off by playing Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn for an unhealthy amount of time. It came out on the 1st, so I was able to start the month off with a real banger. I blew up over 100,000 robots and it was glorious! The games in the Dynasty Warriors Gundam series will forever hold a special place in my heart. There's something magical about decimating thousands of robots with little to no resistance.

After I started winding down from my Dynasty Warriors Gundam high I played a bit of One Piece Unlimited World Red. I intended to play it more than the two times I did, but became distracted by what is now one of my favorite franchises of all time.

I don't remember when in the month it was, but I decided to check the E-shop on the 3DS. That was when I noticed that Inazuma Eleven was on sale because of the world cup. It was only $10 and I had been wanting to try it for a long time. I don't really like soccer, but I am way into anime and games with RPG elements. I promptly downloaded it and ended up playing it for hours. I now have a new obsession that consumes most of my waking thought...

Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn

I don't know that there's a whole lot I can Say about this game. It's another Dynasty Warriors Gundam game. It's the fourth one to be exact. You play as Gundam pilot controlling a Gundam. You walk around a map and push square about a billion times and all the enemy robots around you blow up. It's great! If you don't know anything about the series I wrote up something about the previous game, which you can check out here.

So while I don't really need to describe its appeal I should talk about what's different with it. Obviously there are new Gundams and pilots, but the game itself is actually a bit different as well. The main difference comes with the way you upgrade the Gundams themselves. In the third game you just got blueprints after a battle. In this you still get blueprints, but now they're for specific parts like arms, legs, torso, and head. You can combine them in order to make complete blueprints with all the parts. The combining is actually kind of confusing and I'm still not quite used to it. Each body part can only have two stat boosts, so you need to be careful when combining or you'll often end up making your Gundam worse than it previously was.

This image perfectly captures the spirit of Dynasty Warriors Gundam Reborn.

The way you unlock characters and Gundams is a bit different as well. The game uses a card based system. There is a list of cards in the game and they all have an objective on them. So for example some cards may say you need to beat a specific mission in order to unlock the card. Once you do that you'll gain the card and whatever benefits come from it. This means you'll often need to go to the card list to see what you need to be doing. Some of the stuff is insane, so I don't know if I'll ever be able to 100% this game like I did the last one. To get all the cards you have to be every Gundam and Mobile suit in the game at least five times and blow up at least 2,000 enemies with each, which is bananas. There are so many more Gundams in this game than the previous entry, which was already an insanely large roster.

I'm impressed that Tecmo Koei somehow makes each game in this franchise bigger and better than the last. I was a bit disappointed they didn't dub this game into English though. One of my favorite things to do was make fun of the English voice acting, but this time I just have to settle for reading the corny lines. I'm just glad that they're still putting these games out in the U.S. at all, because I can't imagine they sell extremely well. Hopefully in a year or two I'll be able to once again tell you about my Dynasty Warriors Gundam exploits with a brand new game.


One Piece Unlimited World Red

I played Unlimited World Red twice, but they were two four hour sessions. I got a pretty good feel for what the game is and I like it. Initially when I heard about it people were describing it as a One Piece themed version of Monster Hunter. This isn't entirely accurate, but it's not super far off. It does have a lot of Monster Hunter Elements embedded in it. You do fight large bosses, some of which are creatures, but it's not the focal point of the game.

Most of the time you're wandering around various environments seen in the show. You'll be taken to such locales as Albasta, and Marineford. If you're a fan of the show you'll recognize everything, if not then you wouldn't be playing this game anyways. It's in the original Japanese with subtitles, so Namco Bandai clearly knows the audience that they're targeting with this release.

If you can name these four characters you'll probably want to buy this game.

In each locale you'll be collecting materials much like in Monster Hunter. You do this by breaking boxes, and hitting trees. You can also catch bugs and fish. The locales are generally wide open and you'll fight a bunch of smaller enemies as you traverse through them. The combat is akin to Dynasty Warriors where you do basic attack combos by pushing square and triangle. You also have special moves, which can be used to do things to the environment as well. In fact, the entire game seems kind of like it's just Dynasty Warriors where the enemies take more hits and you collect a bunch of items for crafting like in Monster Hunter.

The reason you're collecting stuff is so that you can make expand the hub town. You'll need various things in order to construct buildings and upgrade them. Buildings will give you access to new things to do, such as shop, play mini-games, and take on quests. The quests are very similar to Monster Hunter in that you have a rank, which will increase the more you do. There's even a restaurant, which grants stat bonuses through the combining of various foods.

The game is all about making this town better.

The plot is unique to the game. A pirate named Red is messing with Luffy and the crew. He is able to pull from their memories and bring their thoughts into physical space. Due to this ability most of what I played so far involves the Straw Hat crew reliving some of the more memorable fights from the anime. It seems like an excuse to put all the old enemies in the game while still technically having a "new" story.

I bought this game for two reasons. The first being that I am a die-hard One Piece fan. The second was so that I could play multiplayer with a friend. It turns out that the only multiplayer in the PS3 version is local, so I won't be doing any of that. I probably should have gotten the Vita or 3DS version of the game if I had known. I do still enjoy the game though. It's interesting, because it doesn't seem like a generic cash grab, which most anime games tend to be. It's trying to do something unique and while it doesn't entirely succeed it's still super interesting. If you're a One Piece fan you should definitely pick it up!

Inazuma Eleven

There was a time a few years ago when I started looking into the Inazuma Eleven franchise. It sounded super appealing to me. A game about a middle school soccer team in Japan who essentially have superhuman abilities. It even had RPG elements to boot! I thought it looked pretty cool, but much to my dismay the game had only been Released in Japan, and Europe. Since the first 2 games were on DS I could have imported them, but the price was a little more than I wanted to pay for a complete unknown.

Fast forward to a few weekends ago when I happened upon the original game for ten dollars on the 3DS eshop. Earlier this year Level 5 finally decided it was time to give the franchise a run in America. In order to do so they put an enhanced version of Inazuma Eleven on the eshop for $20. When I happened upon it the World Cup was going on, so it was only $10. I knew that I had to buy it. What I didn't expect was for the game to consume my every waking thought.

Welcome to my new obsession!

The first night I played the game I only intended to try it out, but I ended up playing for six hours straight. Something about it hooked me immediately and it still hasn't let me go. What's crazy is that I don't really like soccer. However, when you take soccer and basically make it an anime I'm apparently all for it. Real soccer players can't call exploding penguins out of the ground, or make a soccer ball burst into flames because they kicked it so hard!

So what is Inazuma Eleven? I'm glad you asked! It's a soccer RPG developed by Level 5. There are now 6 games in the series, and an anime that follows the plot line of the games. All 6 are out in Japan, 4 of them are released in Europe, and there's just the original here in the United States. In the game you play as the Raimon Middle School soccer club. At first they're terrible and the club is in danger of being disbanded, but through a series of coincidences and hard work they turn everything around and end up thwarting and evil plan that threatens to ruin the soccer that they love so much!

I know this probably sounds like I'm messing around, but I'm not. I legitimately love this series. There are two kinds of soccer matches in the game. There are standard 11 on 11 matches, and then there are the 4 vs. 4 random battles. Yes, there are random soccer battles in this game! Yes, that is the best thing ever! You control your players with the DS stylus. Drawing lines from them will make them move and tapping the screen will make them pass the ball. Sounds pretty basic right? Well then you add in special moves. When your player comes into contact with an opposing player the game pauses and gives you some choices. If you have the ball you can either dodge, charge, or use a special move. Dodging will have a low success rate, while charging will have a higher success rate, but you're more likely to foul. Alternatively you could use a ridiculous special move that consumes TP, which is essentially this game's magic. The same thing happens if you're going against someone with the ball, but it changes to tackle and slide tackle. You can also do special shots!

HIS LEG CATCHES ON FIRE AND IT'S AWESOME!

As you play your team levels up and learns skills, and it's just the most magical time ever. To make it even better there's a Pokemon-like quality to the game. There are over 1,000 players you can recruit and they even have elements associated with them. Each played is either Fire, Wind, Wood, or Air and that determines what type of players they're strong against. The whole system was basically made for me, and the fact that it's all so over the top and filled with crazy characters makes it even better. Right now I probably sound like a mad man, and I feel like I'm just typing stream of consciousness like some kind of lunatic. I haven't enjoyed a game this much in a very long time. It's like someone made this series specifically for me.

Now as I said the first game is the only one that has been released here in the U.S. Lucky for me the second game was for DS, which was not region locked. I imported the 2nd game and have already played that for over 50 hours as well.

So Much More Inazuma Eleven

The third game in the series came out last year in Europe. While it was released for the DS in Japan it was sadly released for the 3DS in Europe. Much to my dismay the 3DS is region locked, so I had to import a European 3DS. Yes, that's right. I imported a 3DS from England so I could play the remaining 2 English Inazuma Eleven games I have yet to consume. In fact for the past few days I've been playing Inazuma Eleven 3 on my hot new European 3DS.

As we speak the first game in the Inazuma Eleven Go series (The 4th game overall) is en route to my house from jolly old England. Yes, I have played over 100 hours of this series over the course of 3 weeks. Yes, I have spend over $400 dollars purchasing these games and a 3DS. I regret absolutely none of it. I can't get enough of this series, and if my insane madman-like lunacy wasn't enough for you this week you can look forward to some other Inazuma Eleven related content in the coming weeks. I'm going to keep playing these games and it doesn't look like I'm going to be done any time soon.

In terms of other video games I'll be playing Tales of Xillia 2 when it launches halfway through August, and I'll also be getting the re-release of Disgaea 4 on the Vita, so that my Vita can finally get some love. I'll be back at the end of August to regale you with tales of those games and even more Inazuma Eleven!

     -Manny

Party Game Sundays: Movie Games

This makes no sense...

The concept of this game still makes no sense to me. It's called Movie Games. The box claims that you act out movie scenes. In my mind that means that you act out movie scenes. However, what the game means is that you play the most mediocre themes mini-games every conceived. Now, I'm not getting angry here, I'm just very confused. Why wasn't this just released as a themed mini-game collection instead of being called Movie Games? As far as I could tell there was absolutely nothing that let me know that these mini-games were the sets of movies. 

Yous start off by picking one of the five themes the game has to offer. They are pirate, prehistoric, alien, haunted house, and space station. Each theme has four mini-games in it, but the last one is locked until you beat 15 mini-games altogether. We ended up playing them all, and I can't really remember a whole lot about them to be quite honest. 

Dancing skeletons are cool I guess.

The game started off okay, with a few unique mini-games. They weren't anything special, but they were competent. Where it really started to rub me the wrong way was when I realized that there were really only like 3 or 4 mini-games that were being slightly changed and re-skinned. One was a match 3 puzzle game, another involved dancing to the beat, and there was also one where you needed to shoot gems. Those are the only things I remember. In the haunted house skeletons danced and that was pretty cool I guess. They control fairly well, but go on for way too long. The dancing ones in particular felt like they went on forever.

Before each mini-game a brief synopsis of a plot was given, which is where I assume the movie element comes in. In the space station they introduced someone named Dr. Notsogood, which is a great name. That was the thing that stood out to me the most about this game. When I remember a name from a throwaway plot synopsis more than the actual game itself you definitely have a problem. Movie Games wasn't bad by any stretch, it was just super mediocre and completely forgettable. If you asked me about this game in a year I bet I wouldn't remember anything about it.

     -Manny

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Dark Souls 2: Darker, But With Less Soul



I've been putting off writing about Dark Souls 2 for far too long. Now that the first DLC has been released I feel like today is as good a day as any to finally get all these Dark Souls 2 thoughts off my chest. The reason that I'm not playing the DLC right now is that I'm kind of worried about it. 

I loved Dark Souls. It was an experience that is still fresh in my mind months after playing it. Since Dark Souls 2 came out so soon after I finished the original I was looking forward to it with anticipation. The fact that I'd be able to go through the new game with a sense of discovery was something I was super excited about. Discovering everything with the entire world at the same time was a really cool experience. The issue is that I can barely remember any of it. In order to understand that I had to leave myself to ruminate on the experience for a few months.

Leading up to the game's release info about the new and differing mechanics were being trickled out. Word on the street was that the game was a lot harder, which it was in the beginning. By the end I was walking through the game with little to no issue. 

Darker?

Many people play the Souls series for the challenge it provides. While I liked the challenge in Dark Souls, it was never really my main draw. Yes, I did feel good about myself when I overcame a challenge. I'm just not a huge fan of games being hard for the sake of being hard. Dark Souls was punishing, but it was often my fault if I died. I'm not in the majority with my thoughts though, so people obviously wanted the game to be more challenging.

Initially I found the game to be much harder. The main contributor to that is that when you die, you lose a percentage of your max health. So now you lose all of your souls, and have less health upon death. You can still reclaim your souls, but it's not quite as easy to reclaim your lost health. In order to do that you need to use a consumable effigy. Early on these items are very scarce, so I found myself often walking around with around half my max health. The early game difficulty is exacerbated by the lack of healing available to you. At first you only have consumable healing gems of varying sizes, which are also far and few between for a while.

The creepy old witches give your your first effigy.

Eventually though you get your very own Estus flask, which you can upgrade until you have 11. Unlike the previous entry you don't have to kindle each bonfire. Your upgrades are permanent, and like the previous game the flasks refill at each bonfire. Dark Souls 2 has far more bonfires and areas than its predecessor, so refilling is never a difficult task. It also helps that you can fast travel between all bonfires you've come across right from the start of the game. This had to be added, since you can no longer level up from any bonfire. You need to talk to the cloaked woman near the bonfire in the game's hub city Majula. 

Another change is that weapons degrade much faster. This would make the game more challenging if they didn't get fully restored at every bonfire. If your weapon does end up breaking you'll need to repair it at a blacksmith, but it never costs a whole lot. Your rings can break now as well, and those do actually cost a lot to repair, because most of the time their effects are amazing. They did however, make it so you can wear four rings now, which will net some pretty insane stat boosts. One ring in particular, the cling ring, makes it so you can't drop below 75% max health from death. Needless to say that's a pretty good one to have. 

There are so many more bonfires now.

Leveling in Dark Souls 2 comes much faster as well. By the end of the game I was a way higher level than I was at the end of the original. Granted, the stats are changed up a bit to compensate for the greater amount of souls available, but there was a point where I started to feel overpowered. In this game I took up the slower moving great sword, and sometimes I would also have a shield to block. A lot of people say that this makes the game easy, but I don't believe in sacrificing my enjoyment of a game in order to make it more difficult.

The thing that really made the game harder at first though was the difference in movement. I'm not a huge fan of the movement in Dark Souls 2. To me it feels way less sensitive. You really have to push the stick in order to get moving, where as in the original you could lightly touch the stick and creep along. It made the player character in the original feel much heavier, whereas the character movement in Dark Souls 2 feels kind of light and floaty. This much is just personal preference, but it definitely took me a while to get used to. If you don't know how your character is going to move, it's a huge issue when you need to make precise dodges and attacks.

This was basically me the entire game.

Dark Souls 2 is much different, but it's also largely the same. It's the same franchise that people have come to love, with some differentiating features in order to make it more difficult. It was harder for me at first, but by the end I was crushing everything I came across pretty decisively. There was certainly no Ornstein and Smough moment of sheer frustration in this game. At most I got stuck on a boss for three or four tries.

Much Less Soul

Before I get into this section I want to say that I enjoyed my time with Dark Souls 2. It was a well crafted sequel that was very much meant for fans of the series. They tried to do all the right things and a lot of them worked in favor of the gameplay. So now I'm going to get into exactly why I liked Dark Souls 2 way less than its predecessor. I'm willing to admit that the gameplay is improved overall, but the way the world design was nowhere near on par with the original.

I have come to terms with the fact that I didn't like Demon's Souls, because of its level based structure. I did however, fall in love with Dark Souls because of its open world nature. The entire world was connected in a logical way, and it was even connected in physical space to boot! I loved the fact that you could turn a corner in a new area and find yourself in an area that you had visited hours before. It was truly a well planned out world that felt like so much time had been out into it. I don't want to say that Dark Souls 2 was less thought out, but it certainly was not as well designed from a world building perspective.

This map is not possible if you go by the way everything is laid out in the game.

The town Majula acts as a central hub, much as the Firelink Shrine acted as a hub in the first game. From Firelink you could go to one of a few areas, which were all interconnected. From Majula you can also choose to go to a few areas, but none of them are connected at all. Instead of being a huge interconnected world Dark Souls 2 consists of several spokes that all come to a close in a dead-end. There's nothing less appealing to me than coming across a dead-end in what is essentially an open world game. My issue goes much deeper than that though. In the original you could see everything in the world. You'd be on a mountain top and be able to see other explorable areas. This is not the case in Dark Souls 2, and it bothers me because of how completely different each area is. Yes, it's cool to have a ton of different terrain types, but when you can't see the fiery volcano that's insanely large from anywhere else in the world it really breaks the experience for me. 

The physical world isn't the only issue I had either. Let's take the bosses for example. There are a ton of them, but if you asked me to recall any of them I'd only be able to think of a select few. In the original Dark Souls whenever you came across a boss it was a crazy encounter and each one felt unique. In Dark Souls 2 there may actually be too many bosses and far too many are humanoid. It's like someone saw how much people liked fighting Artorias in the first game and decided to do throw a ton of humanoids in. If they were all interesting it wouldn't be an issue, but many of them are very straightforward fights. There were a few cool ones though like the fight with a giant spider for example. 

Hmmm why can't you see this insane lava wasteland from anywhere?

I know I'm in the minority, but I really like the story of Dark Souls. Finding out about each individual character and boss was interesting. The world was very well built and had a ton of backstory. I feel like a tool saying that Dark Souls 2 isn't as well built, but it definitely seems to be lacking something that the original had. I had barely any idea what was going on with the plot of Dark Souls 2, and I was actively looking for it a majority of the time. Maybe it's something I needed to dig deeper for, but the fact that you just suddenly kind of appear in a new world isn't exactly the best plot setup.

 Perhaps it's the fact that Miyazaki didn't have a direct development role, or maybe my experience with the original game is something that can't be replicated. I just can't help but feel that some of the magic of the first game has dissipated in the second.

On to the DLC

With all of this being said I can't wait to try out the DLC. It will be coming in three episodes, all of which involve looking for crowns. Maybe this will have the interesting story I was looking for in the game, or maybe it will at least fill out a lot of the gaps. At the very least it will be interesting to see if I can get right back into the way the movement works, or if I'll have to get used to the way everything works again. I liked the game, but I just can't help but feel like it could have been so much more.  

Dark Souls 2 was a fun experience. I enjoyed it while I was playing it, but that experience has almost completely faded from my mind at this point, which is extremely disappointing to me. I could still tell you about the story of the original game. If you set me down in the world of the original I could still give you directions and tell you exactly what you need to do. I could tell you where bosses are, and what strategies worked for me. It's an experience that is solidified in my mind, which rarely happens anymore. I just wish Dark Souls 2 could have replicated that.