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Dark Souls PC Previews at RPS and Eurogamer

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Dark Souls PC Previews at RPS and Eurogamer

Preview - posted by Crooked Bee on Thu 9 August 2012, 14:35:49

Tags: Bandai Namco Entertainment; Dark Souls: Prepare to Die; From Software

Dark Souls, From Software's latest title in one of the all-time best dungeon crawler series going back to the King's Field and Shadow Tower games, has received some hands-on previews focusing on the upcoming PC port of the game. Eurogamer notes the brilliance of the new content, but also the shoddiness of the port, even with the somewhat improved performance:

During our hands-on with this edition at Namco's offices, we're given free rein to explore any levels that comprise the main campaign and up to 15 minutes of the extra areas. The gut reaction is to start with the new stuff, which will be immediately accessible to players via a portal hidden on the perimeter of Ash Lake. Accessing this cues a short transitory cut-scene, and then you're thrown straight into an area filled with mossy temple ruins named Sanctuary Garden.

It's immediately apparent that From Software has lost neither its ability to realise some fantastical visual designs in-game, nor its token standard of difficulty. [...] It's a relief to see that every area that follows feels consistent with the rest of the game's brooding visual tone, and yet unique enough to warrant returning to Lordran. Later highlights include flowery woodlands filled with ragged scarecrow-like creatures, hell-bent on chasing after you with pitchforks until you find the safety of a stone bridge. The progression is exciting, too; it starts clear, bright, and beautiful, but the further you run, the foggier and more grossly luminescent the forest's details become. It's more of the same surreal goodness, and it manages to recapture the buzz of jumping into Dark Souls' initial 10 hours - whereas perhaps the latter half of the main game suffered in focus.

[...] [T]he frame-rate on consoles has always been a major area of complaint among Dark Souls fans, and the notorious Blight Town or New Londo Ruins areas are usually singled out as the big offenders. The implication of a PC release is obviously that all these problems can be tackled by the brute force of a faster CPU, and though there are very light hitches here and there, it's a relief to say Blight Town now plays without all the constant chugging. The improvement is staggering to those that endured the treacle-like pace of the area on PS3 and 360, already making this version a winning proposition.

There is bad news which could hit PC gamers pretty hit hard, though. While the frame-rate's rough edges have been filed down, you're still going to be playing at 30FPS out of the box, as widely rumoured. [...] There's also something curious about the resolution too in that there's no change in clarity when attempting to crank up the settings. On close inspection, it appears that Dark Souls PC uses the very same 1024x720 internal framebuffer as the console versions, regardless of which resolution has been set in the menus. The option provided is for output resolution only; a simple courtesy to allow the game to play on most monitors, but the image quality will always remain the same. In short, PC gamers will very much be getting the genuine console experience here, right down to the pixel.​

If that sounds like "ouch" to you, well, RockPaperShotgun confirms all that, also complaining about the inclusion of Games for Windows Live:

This was never part of the plan. Dark Souls is coming to PC because so many people asked for it, just as Demons’ Souls only travelled West because an unexpected demand arose. There have been worrying signs that the port will be less than optimal and, having now played the Prepare to Die edition, it’s my sad duty to report that the experience is far from smooth. It’s still Dark Souls though, with more content than on console, and, framerate issues or not, there’s nothing else quite like it.

GFWL, or whatever it’s called these days, is in. That’s the worst of the bad news I think, although I do seem to dislike Microsoft’s sentry system more than most. The official word is that it’s being used to implement the all-important multiplayer, including a PvP system that is new for the Prepare to Die edition. The game will be available direct from Namco’s digital store, through Steam or in an actual box with all sorts of fancy goodies, but wherever you get it, you’ll have to sign in to GFWL.

The other bad news concerns technical issues that have, as far as I can tell, carried over from the console versions. No worse but no better. More on that at the end but first, because Dark Souls would still be a brilliant game even if it shot you in the foot every time you played it, I’m going to talk about why the existence of a PC version is still good news.​

To find out why RPS thinks so, read the full preview.

There are 105 comments on Dark Souls PC Previews at RPS and Eurogamer

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