Despite Sega's mascot, Sonic the Hedgehog, going downhill, fans can always count on the hit RPG series, known as the "Shining" series, as a returning entity by Sega. This entry in the series, Shining Tears on the PS2, may not be the latest in the series, but it's a force to be reckoned with.
The graphics are like Tales of Eternia, but they are less Tale-ish.They are more like Tales of Destiny or Tales of Phantasia. Also it's has voices in the battles and boss intros. They aren't that bad. Xion's voice may have been a little too deep, but it's still good. The battle system is what the tactics game should be like, in my opinion, your on a plane and you fight like a way similiar to Champions of Norrath. This makes the game more enjoyable while keeping the game more like a strategy RPG than anything else.
The co-op system is great! Even if youíre not playing with a friend you can control the 2nd character with the right analog stick, which makes it easier to keep the CPU from dying. Also the character you choose for 2nd player changes the personality of the protagonist, Xion. If you choose one side Xion will be the opposite. Like for example if you choose a dark character then Xion will be light, a vice-versa. Also the personality that Xion becomes makes him a different fighter. If Xion is light he will be a magic user, if he is dark Xion will be a melee user. This makes Xion more accessable and it allows the player to choose wether or not he wants to be a range, or a close-combat fighter.
The only problem with this is that you need to choose your partner wisely for each mission, which may mean, choose someone you don't want to use to get through the mission. With that said, the missions in the game gets harder as your progress, which will demand some grinding between missions. Also, keeping up with each of the character's equipment is a hassle. You'll barely have enough money to buy healing items and keep yourself well equipped as it is, so have to keep up with several other different character's equipment will be more like a chore.
Despite the difficult later missions and horrendous equipment system, the game has wonderful music and story. The music is classic orchestrated RPG style and while the story may not be original, it's at least a good one. The character art is done by anime hentai artist Tony Taka, and his designs are very well done. You can just barely feel the emotion coming from each character as the feel sad, happy, and angry, and they look good as well.
Overall, the game is not bad at all. It's especially fun if you have a friend to play. The later missions may be hard, and finishing the game may be more painful than fun, but it's a nice play and has an interesting story. If you want an RPG just to play with a friend, then this game is for you.
If youíre a retro gamer, then you know how hard a game can be. Some people may even argue that games back in the day were harder than they are now. This is mostly true, especially for games that focus more on the story like a RPG. Well, if you really think games today are easy, Demonís Souls is going to make you think otherwise.
Most reviewers tend to go ahead a jump on the ďthis game is
hardĒ band wagon, and while it is important to note the gameís difficulty, I
find it slightly more important to address the gameís genre. Itís an online
RPG, short and simple. Players could
argue that itís just a hack-n-slash game with RPG elements, but those players
tend to forget that the game actually does have a story. The problem with
todayís world is that people often confuse ďstoryĒ with ďcharacter
developmentĒ, and while the game isnít about your character, it does have a
story, thus, on one side of this double edged sword of a game genre, itís a
RPG. Still not convinced? Okay, then let's take this logically. It's not a hack-n-slash because there are not enough enemies coming at you at once for it to be called so, and there isn't much of a combo system. So it's an online RPG.
Okay, now onto the actual review. This game is hard, but in
a weird way. While the game punishes you for not being careful enough it also
rewards you for being a little reckless. It is indeed possible to beat a boss
at a low level if you simply ďtryĒ. On the other hand, you also need to make
sure youíre prepared to make such a risk, by bringing your strongest weapon,
stocking up on items, and bringing a friend if possible. This tactic may not
work for everyone, which brings us back to the point that the gameís difficulty
is weird. Itís hard yet beatable, fun yet brutal, pure genius. My only gripe is that the game can get a little too hard at times. Even the best players will get frustrated. Ultimately, the gameplay is strict but rewarding.
The plot involves the kingdom of Boletaria as it becomes overruled by demons. The demons are taking peopleís souls, and they are becoming zombies or even demons themselves. Several warriors have tried to end this conflict, but have either failed or have gone missing. Attempting to right this wrong, the player character ventures into Boletaria to defeat the demons, and find the source of this epidemic. During your attempt to save the world, your character is killed, and sent to a place called the Nexus. As you progress through to game, the NPCs you recruit to join your cause begin to form opinions on one another. The apprentices of the holy Saint Urbain would obviously distrust those who follow Sage Freke, a wizard who knows demonic magic. Itís all the dialogue that these NPCs share with the player that make the gameís story that much more interesting. While it is impossible to get every NPC, due to a spoiler of a quest I will not reveal, it may be fun to try to get all the NPCs you can, or at least find them all. Itís these NPCs that make the story itself progress as well. For example, after you beat the first boss, you are required to go to the top of the Nexus, and talk to the Monumental, who happens to be the last of a long line of monks, who explains the situation in greater detail. In so many words, itís the Monumentalsí fault. After the Monumental explains himself (or herself; itís hard to tell), the game decides to be cute and let you choose if you want to save the world or not. Regardless of your answer, youíll have to do it. Even if you do say no, the Monumental will just tell you that you will be stuck in the Nexus, and then laugh at you. What a douche.
The gameplay feels like a MMORPG at times. Unlike most RPGs where you have a menu to select your items and attacks and use them then and there, Demonís Souls has you equip the weapons and items you wish to use. You can use any weapon you want, regardless of your starting class, and you can also use them with one or two hands if you wish. Much like Oblivion, the game has a fatigue meter, and if you use it all up, you wonít be able to attack, making you use your attacks wisely, especially when fighting a large group of enemies. The only limitation to your equipment is the armor you wear. Itís not only limited by certain classes but also by gender. Several are unisex, but a lot of the good armor is for either sex. This can be discouraging if you happen to get a set of armor that looks really cool to you and then you learn that itís for the opposite sex, but that doesnít happen often. The bosses also provide a decent challenge. Some bosses may be much harder than others, perhaps even border lining being too hard, but they arenít unbeatable.
As for the graphics, they are nice. Iím not much of a graphics whore, so a game doesnít have to be run on the Crysis engine just for me to like it. There was an instance during the Tower Knight boss fight where several soldiers looked like they belonged on PS2, but that was a one-time deal. It doesnít happen anymore after that.
The online multiplayer in the game is also fun. When you first start out, you canít play with anyone, probably due to the developers wanting the player to play the game alone before playing with others. However, other players can leave messages on the ground that show up when you activate them. Players can leave these messages in order to help the player (i.e. ďWatch out for the pit ahead.Ē) or to be a jerk. Most messages are helpful, though. Once you finish the first level, you are able to summon other players (if you are alive) or put down your soul sign so someone can summon you (if you are dead). Itís a good idea to get summoned whenever you beat a level, so you can play the next one without penalty. That way you will know what will happen in the level and possibly how to beat it, plus you may have a strategy already planned out for the boss. It is also a good idea to summon other players when trying to beat a level. The extra help is always welcome, and some bosses require at least one extra player.
Music can be an important part of a game. In my opinion, it is one of the most important aspects of any game. There is barely any music in Demonís Souls. The only time there is music is when youíre in the Nexus or fighting a boss. The type of music that does play during those times is of the dark fantasy style, with haunting themes playing when fighting scary bosses. It would have been nice if they had added in some tracks for each level, but then again, Iím a sucker for good ambience.
The voice acting is superb. There are no weak lines, for the most part. One character does sound like he is reading, but only for one line. Everyone else does a good job.
Despite being made in Japan by a Japanese developer, Demonís Souls is designed like a Western RPG. The technologically filled, anime inspired mystical fantasy art of most J-RPGs is replaced with a more realistic, dark fantasy medieval style. From Software, the developers of the game, are known for making such Western RPG looking games. Itís no surprise that Demonís Souls would look the same as any previous RPG they made.
Overall, the game is great. I love it. The game does take some getting used to, but after that the game isnít as hard, but itís still hard. If you tend to stop playing a game due to its difficulty, do yourself a favor and keep playing Demonís Souls. Itíll be worth it in the end. I recommend it to anyone who likes a challenge.