After seeing the videos and getting the impression it was going to be kinda similar to Baldur’s Gate on PS2 I was excited to play it. My first impression when I started the demo was that I wasn't blown away and I didn't see unicorns and rainbows. Then I got over the fact nothing rocked my world in the first 10 seconds and got to playing. I'm an old school Dungeons & Dragons guy although my RPG resume is very well fleshed out from all styles. I was a little worried realizing we have static characters and no attributes or stats to change around as we level up, but the character development is so intelligently designed I found I was not missing any of what I normally look forward to when "level up" occurs.
There are several different areas you can increase your abilities and traits in when you level up. Two different options in each area giving you slightly different benefits depending on which way you go. For example the fire chick has a hell hound you can buy as an ability and in the hell hound ability you can A) increase the hit points/power of the beast or B) increase the percentage chance the hound will set enemies on fire doing continual fire damage as they burn (I opted for the latter as I find a crowd of people on fire is more useful to me than the potential for my doggie to live a little bit longer). You get this kind of choice on everything regardless if you're the warrior/tank or the other characters. On the surface it seems simplistic, but as you start buying more and more abilities and putting your focus in very specific areas you begin to see there is a ton of depth and strategy on how your character progression develops over time. Couple that with the abilities of your AI companion and/or buddy playing online with you and you can produce some great results.
Another thing that I was very impressed with was the amount of hidden items, chests, and loot in general. Tons of stuff if you really keep your eyes open. Same thing for side quests. Even in the demo (which by the way was surprisingly long for a demo) there were several different off the beaten path options to venture out and do. Many people in other reviews have mentioned the ability to toggle the "bread crumb" path finder for whatever quest you're on which I also enjoyed. Convenient and makes finding your way when you have a bazillion quests in your book easy and fun to do.
I found the story simple on the surface (ie we're being hunted to extinction so we must fight against the odds etc.) however the way it is executed is engaging and entertaining. The voice acting wasn't half bad, the music very appropriate and enjoyable & the pacing just right. Again this is the demo, but if the game continues in a similar fashion then it is just right on all counts. The story and interaction with people is slightly different (in the demo) depending on which character you use so I anticipate some great replayability with the other characters on the full game.
I personally think the graphics were quite good. Not exceptional, but I am often the minority here, but I find most games on PS3 (and all consoles) to feel dated and that's simply because I'm aware of where hardware is on the market and consoles are dated. Period. That being said the lighting was great with fire and other special effects, the character graphics are good in the field. The close up dialogue scenes seem a little less so, but in a way they seem to be stylized more than they are just plain. Like it was an artistic choice to model the faces up close in that way which to be honest I enjoy looking at. The battles are very fluid and require more than button mashing. You can kind of get away with the mashing early on, but if you crank up the difficulty you see the way they require you to charge up your abilities through the combat rather than regenerating outside of combat. I enjoy it. Focuses on skill a little more than your usual hack n slash game.
I will say one thing not quite in defense of the limited multiplayer, but my best friend and I had a blast playing through Eternal Sonata together. The somewhat old now RPG Eternal Sonata allowed a 2nd player (maybe a 3rd? I forget) to play one of the characters during fights and it was very fun to play a somewhat classic style turn based RPG together. I can see a few of my less intense gamer friends coming over and killing time playing this together, but at the end of the day 95% of my friends who game will steer clear of this game because they prefer online play.
I really do understand the dilemma Obsidian had with making the atmosphere, mechanics, story etc. work with a online party based environment. That was their challenge and this is how they chose to handle it. Maybe it will really keep the story and ambience of the game itself intact for the single player experience. Perhaps they should have made a VERY clear point that this is a single player game primarily and the multiplayer is simply an added feature for fun in specific situations where people just want to play together once in a while as opposed to "campaigning" together.
I was under the impression this was a multiplayer campagin experience which it very clearly is not. This will dry up a majority of the sales of this game forcing it into a very small niche' of A) RPG fans who don't care much about online play B) people who love hack n slash solo.
Some other minor criticisms I saw here and there in other reviews online were the inventory management and camera issues. I didn't really have many instances where the camera fuxx0red on me while I was playing. Apparently more of an issue (so I read) when multiple people are playing. The inventory management could be better as in you will obtain a TON of loot which is awesome, but then managing your stuff can be a bit cumbersome, but to be perfectly honest I have NEVER played a game where this was done effectively so I don't really find it a complaint worth making. Perhaps Diablo 3 will set the bar for smart inventory.
At the end of the day though I will evaluate this as a single player game first and foremost and I can wholeheartedly recommend this game as I absolutely loved playing it. I can also see playing this with a friend once in a while, but mainly just me and it's still worth the money.
From every review that crapped on this demo or even full game review the complaints were that it was "dumbed down" "graphics subpar" "story boring" and they were all full of shit. The graphics are not only not bad, but they are actually quite good. The story is entertaining and the character development again on the surface may seem limited, but it is actually very well done so don't listen to the negative hype. It is the best hack n slash RPG I've played in years hands down no comparison to anything else. The only shackle around the ankle of this amazing game is the confusing decision to limit the multiplayer element. Still a fantastic game worth owning. I saw a New Zealand TV ad for the game and they show two best friends campaigning together and the final blurb was "bringing back the couch co-op" so if you have a roommate, neighbor, spouse or friend that can come over often play this game and you will love it. If you are a trophy whore more interested in your own campaign play it as a single player experience (perhaps with some generous online help if you're lucky) and enjoy it.
+4 rating on a - 5 to +5 scale. Get it. **Again this is based on the demo, but I did play the demo to completion, searched everything, talked to everyone, grinded for a few levels, and took my time**
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