Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition Analysis
When Demon’s Souls was released back in 2009 for the PlayStation 3, it was one of those games that came out of nowhere, people didn’t really know where it came from and a lot of them certainly didn’t know what to expect. They didn’t know that they were delving into a dungeon crawler with absolutely no mercy; some people loved it for that, while others downright hated it. Dark Souls, the spiritual successor to the aforementioned Demon’s Souls, was released last year and while people definitely knew what to expect from the game this time around, there was enough of a fan base, enough of a cult following, for it to not matter that much. If you were a player who wanted a bit of a challenge then you no doubt picked up Dark Souls.
If you had a console that is.
All you have to do is take a quick glance at the internet (I know, we’re told not to do that, looking directly at the internet could have disastrous effects; like looking into the heart of a T.A.R.D.I.S.) and you’ll see that a lot of the people that would describe themselves as being “Pro” tend to confine themselves to the realm of PC gaming. They couldn’t test themselves with Dark Souls even if they wanted to, unless they ventured out of the PC gaming space and grasped a controller. As we all know, that was never going to happen, a group of PC gamers banded together and started a petition, a petition to bring Dark Souls to the PC gaming market. The petition ended up getting almost 100,000 signatures and gained the attention of From Software and Namco Bandai who eventually promised to port the game to the PC. They held up to their end of the bargain and announced that Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition would be coming to the PC on August 24, 2012. That day has been and gone, we’ve played the game, but was the PC version something that was worth waiting for? Has the inexperience of From Software as a PC developer created cracks in the game that weren’t there with the console releases? Is Games for Windows LIVE as intrusive as everyone expected it would be?
The answer to all three of those questions is yes.
Upon starting Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition for the first time, the first thing anyone will notice is that you’ve got to sign in to/or create an Xbox LIVE account. Normally this wouldn’t be a big deal but due to the fact that Dark Souls runs via Steam, a service which has a perfectly functional, if not preferred, DRM system in place, it does seem a little pointless. If you’re a console gamer, and more specifically an Xbox 360 gamer, then you’ve already got an Xbox LIVE account and you probably won’t even sniff at the idea of gaining more Gamerscore while you’re playing PC games, but it feels totally unnecessary in here. Dark Souls is a game that prides itself on immersing the player in the fantasy role-playing world that it creates around them, every time a friend signs in to the service, or you get an achievement, the bright white box appears in the top right hand corner of the screen, and on top of a game that’s generally dark and gloomy, it yanks you out of the immersion you were previously enjoying. The addition of Games for Windows LIVE isn’t terrible but it certainly feels tacked on and utterly unessential.
A PC port of Dark Souls is certainly something that a lot of fans asked for, and a port is exactly what they got. From the moment you start the game, and the game asks you to open a door in the Undead Asylum using the ‘A’ button, it’s supremely evident that all From Software have essentially done is taken the Xbox 360 game and pushed it, as hard as they can, through a PC cookie cutter. If you want to use the keyboard and mouse to play Dark Souls then you’re out of luck. While you can technically use the keyboard and mouse to play through the title, things aren’t going to be made easy for you. All of the areas of the game where it will ask you to press a specific button will tell you the appropriate action in terms of buttons on an Xbox 360 controller. This isn’t a problem if you’ve got a wired version of the Xbox 360’s controller and can simply plug it into your PC and get to work, but if you don’t, or if you simply wanted to use the keyboard and mouse (as any self-respecting PC gamer should), then you’re going to be making the game even harder than it would normally be.
The whole thing feels as if it’s been rushed out of the door to appease the fans. It makes a change that the voice of the masses has been heard – and in a more constructive way than the Mass Effect 3 ending débâcle – but a little bit more care and attention wouldn’t have gone amiss.
That being said, Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is a thoroughly entertaining game, but not because of anything that the PC version brought to the table. It’s fun because the original game was fun. The extra bosses, weapons and items that the Prepare to Die Edition bring are welcome, as all additional content always is, but with all that content coming to the console versions of the game later on in the year anyway, it would be difficult to recommend the PC version, though the PC version does have a more stable frame-rate throughout. Xbox LIVE undoubtedly brings more players to the table, enabling you to enter the worlds of more people, helping them to overcome the great evils in the hopes that someone is kind enough to help you. With the Games for Windows LIVE integration I found it difficult to invade the world of other players, that could have been the services, or it could have just been that this version of the game is still relatively new, nevertheless it was a disappointing multiplayer experience.
Dark Souls: Prepare to Die Edition is an excellent game, and one that I’ll no doubt continue to play, but there’s no denying the fact that it’s a disappointing port. Grab your wired Xbox 360 controller and enjoy this fantastic game on the PC if it is your only gaming platform, otherwise just get the console version of the game and wait for the Prepare to Die DLC later in the year; you’ll have more fun in the long run.