Retro games and insane challenges is a thing these days. Let me give you a challenge and a treat; A real lesson in game design for all those hard core macho players out there. V2000 is a very odd game with a fun concept but a very flawed execution. According to the story and in-game intro dragons attacks a series of small worlds with a contagious virus and giant bugs among other things.
In order to fight this infestation a weird vtol (vertical take of and landing) craft is deployed
The main reason why the game is so damn hard and broken, is the controls. The craft can’t slide sideways and aiming is quite shit. Nor can the camera actually rotate, which makes this a very tricky business. However the game is far from impossible and each level is unique and interconnected. In order to win the nest has to be destroyed and the infestation must not reach critical mass. Or enough civilians die. Tough at that point it’s just to hit restart. Sure there are extra lives, but those are limited. There are only so many medals to collect. On is gain from finishing the level, while the other ones are hidden in various spots.
The other challenge is that each level is a puzzle of sorts and usually require weapons from another world. Hover these weapons can only be unlocked by ferrying civilians off to the factory, where they will produce new upgrades and guns. After all some enemies are bullet proof to the max. The craft itself has two modes, flying and floating and can be submerged by carrying a weight.
Graphically the game was quite decent for its time, with waves in the ocean, some physics and in full 3D. Naturally the physics is what makes things so hard at times. Touch trees, fences, buildings and such and the craft takes damage. Not only that it will also be bounced backwards as the thing in question usually explode. Which makes the fixed camera and floaty craft a real thorn in the buttocks to deal with. Which surprises me a little that games like the Silver Surfer has been been completed and recorded. One of the very noticeable challenges in V2000 includes, drowning white lizards things through mind control. Rolling boulders down a cliff and have them crush various hives, which otherwise are immortal and a slew of other challenges. Each world is different and very, very challenging.
Back in the day the PC version apparently had a versus mode as well. Tough the PC version will not keep the save file when exiting. Naturally this makes the Playstation the best version, if you can get a copy and get it running. Emulators can be a fickle mistress when it comes to weird old and virtually forgotten games. Also, good luck searching for a copy, V2000 is a painfully generic title.
Curse these accursed undead and this damnable mark, I have been branded and will soon turn hollow and lose my mind, attacking anyone that comes too close. Our world has truly gone down a clogged infected drain and the dead just refuse to stay down. It’s probably a good thing that they decided to lock me up in this stinking, moldy asylum; and the moans of the insipid prisoners never stop.
Dark Souls is an adventure in a dark and desolate fantasy world of sword and sorcery, where light is fading and monsters run rampant. A place where the player is literally thrown into the action after a short intro sequence. Aside from this, not much is told about the plot, but every now and then a piece is presented. Most of the story is told through the lore each weapon and armor have and the environment. The people you can talk to are not very helpful and could quite possibly be insane already…though sanity is for the weak.
The biggest draw and drawback is the combat, which is quite solid and very meaty. Each fight is a cruel test of limits, where a lot of the enemies have an uncanny ability to twist the attack in the middle of a blow and to hit you when rolling behind them. This tracking will be a make-and-break point for players along with the poorly optimized PC port. However there is a fan patch that fixes the resolution. A game pad is highly recommended. Another noteworthy issue is the lock on camera, that often ends up looking up a creature’s butt as I roll under it, only to fall of a ledge. All over the world there is a lot of loot and many unique weapons and spells to unlock, which means that there is a plethora of ways to play the game. So never let anyone tell you that you are playing the game wrong. Aside from the typical selection of stabbing, chopping and crushing weapons, there are a lot of spells and some very unique weapons to get. This includes a spike and a wagon wheel that also doubles as a shield. Combat is deceptively simple. It’s all based around dodging, blocking and reaction time, which means that if I took damage I did something wrong or got too inpatient. There are no quick-time events (QTE), nor are there any interrupting cut scenes to throw me out of the immersion.
The truly unique mechanic that From Software brought to the table is the ability to invade random players’ games and try to kill them, or summon random strangers to help with bosses and hard areas. It is possible to see the ghost of another player’s final moment and write messages on the ground that others might see. However a resource called humanity is needed to participate in the player interaction, since the player character tuns into a dried out, undead corpse on death.
Enemies drop loot and souls. These souls work as a ingame currency for buying, upgrading and leveling up, though that can only be done at a fireplace (which also functions as a checkpoint). Unfortunately, all of your souls and humanity are lost upon death, unless the player can return to the spot and reclaim the loot. There is also a fair share of achievements to get as well.
I’m not sure who said that Dark Souls is beautifully bleak, but it’s true. Everything is drab, tired and full of dead things. The world looks very, run down and it works wonders. Each area is connected in a sensible manner, with unlockable shortcuts. Dense tunnels, claustrophobic crypts, smelly bogs and sweeping vistas makes this world breathtaking and a grand vision to behold. Every now and then there will be a message such as “Beware of beautiful view”, and with good reason.
The music does a wonderful job as well. It’s epic and fittingly dramatic. The player can do most of the places and bosses in any order, and some can be skipped altogether. The prepare to die edition also for all the extra content, which is new areas, npc’s and loot. Despite its flaws, I quite enjoy the game. But I can honestly say that this game is not for everyone. It’s hard, violent, rage-inducing and addictive…and you will die a lot. Naturally, this game is not for young children.
Ladies and Lads, I present you with Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen!
If your first instinct when you see a majestic red dragon is to climb it, then look no further. This game is about bombing big monsters with powerful spells and stabbing them in their weak spots with sharp swords and knives. Regardless of how awesome it is to bring down giants, the game also offers smaller denizens common to standard fantasy settings: goblins, wolves, skeletons and zombies. These creatures’ smaller size doesn’t make them any less hard to kill, since almost every enemy comes in packs.
Bad bird to the bone.
A tranquil fishing village is attacked by a huge, vicious scaly red dragon that breathes fire and destruction onto the populace. The hero decided it was a good idea to charge the monster with a sword. However, one does not bring a toothpick to a monster fight and expect to win. The resulting one-sided battle ends with the hero losing his heart, and the beast proclaiming that only worthies can face him and reclaim what they have lost.
This begs the question, “What is your favorite way to hunt monsters?” Blowing them up with powerful spells and clipping their wings with a well placed fireball? You can do that. Bring them down with a swarm of arrows from afar? That is also a valid option. After all, each enemy has a weakness to exploit. Skillfully blocking and taking damage, or bashing enemy heads with a hammer? You can do those, as well. You can also climb beasts with a dagger in each hand. This is also where replay value comes in.
Each class is different and team composition can be set to anything that catches the player’s fancy. Personally I went with a ranger supported by a shield-bashing warrior, a vastly overpowered sorcerer and a healer. The party is unfortunately limited to 3 members.
For people looking for a challenge, there is a speed-run mode and various difficulties, where player-levels carry over. Switching difficulties resets the story mode, so beware! Naturally in such a game there are a ton of side quests and quirky characters who have much to say!
I almost took an arrow to the knee.
Hirelings in the game are known as “pawns”, and they can be obtained from other players or random encounters in the world. Each player makes a secondary computer-controlled character that levels up along with the player. This person can be changed into any class each time the player visits an inn. As the story progresses, they will learn and adapt. This means that if I started to throw citizens around, eventually the pawn would start doing the same, as well. It’s not recommended though. When a pawn is let go, the player it was hired from will get a special currency and the pawn will retain all its knowledge.
Tiny monsters to kill.
The character creation menu is what you’d expect from a fantasy game. One thing to keep in mind is that weight plays an important part when it comes to the grabbing mechanic. A heavy person will hold down a flying foe, while a light one will hang on for dear life as the enemy takes off!
Each of the classes has different skills, play styles and weapons. These can be upgraded with various materials that litter the world. The graphics are quite good and do an effective job of conveying the thoughtfully crafted world. The game runs at a steady 60 FPS. Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen also allows players to walk almost anywhere they please. Though due to the RPG nature of the mechanics, there are plenty of invisible walls along the path to a given location. Technically savvy players can take on monsters of much higher level and stab them to death with a thousand paper cuts; ineffective and time consuming as that may be. Spells and skills are very satisfying to use and can be upgraded to more powerful variants as the player progresses. A tiny icicle will turn into a huge pillar of death somewhere down the line.
Climbing a cyclops.
The game itself is quite simple to master and very intuitive, with plenty of tutorials to go around. However, its “grindy” nature and vast traveling distances will be off-putting for a lot of people.
Is it fun? Hell yes, it is. I never play games for long that are not fun. After sinking many hours into the wonderfully brutal world of Dragon’s Dogma: Dark Arisen, I can honestly say that you can’t go wrong with this title…especially since the PC version fixed various performance issues. The PS3 version had many frame drops and stuttering due to the insane size of some monsters and the special effects being thrown around.
While the combat is fun and satisfying, it’s also accompanied by a fabulous score. A ton of voice actors do a great job conveying the dialogue, with many English accent variants from around the globe.
I have to remember this place before it’s covered in corpses.
Combat is based around skills and the player’s ability to negate damage, while pawns do their best to fight alongside. However the latter are kind of dumb and prone to stupid things, such as falling off ledges while carrying your loot.
Something else you’ll notice is that people and pawns never stop talking. Certain spots trigger dialogue, and every encounter has its own banter. This is gets old quickly, especially when it comes to encounters with wolves; which are weak against fire. By the way, did I mention that they hate fire, and that they hunt in packs and can be killed with fire?
The game itself can be bought at the usual places, including Steam and Humble Bundle. The version I got came with a soundtrack and a digital art book.