Saturday 22 July 2017

Buckets of patience required to be a Souls survivor

Reviewed: Dark Souls II, The Lego Movie Videogame, Yoshi's New Island

Dark Souls II for X360, PS3, PC
Dark Souls II for X360, PS3, PC
The Lego Movie Videogame
Yoshi's New Island for Nintendo 3DS
Ronan Price

Ronan Price



RATING: 8.5/10

AGE: 16+

IN THIS era of instant gratification, Dark Souls II stands defiant against gaming conventions. The medieval RPG series panders to no one in its unrelenting difficulty and obscure plotting.

Early chatter around DSII suggested a flattening of its notorious learning curve – after all, if you earned a penny for every time you saw the “You Died” screen, you’d be rich. And it’s quite true that it’s entirely possible to pass the opening hour in the eerie demon-filled world of Drangleic without meeting a grisly end.

But Dark Soul II is just toying with you, lulling you into a false sense of confidence, perhaps to get newcomers hooked on its peculiar brand of masochism. Sooner rather than later, you will meet tougher enemies.

They’ll cut down you with a few brisk strikes, gang up on you or wait stealthily in ambush. By then you’ll have seen quite a few amazing sights – the grim dungeons of old are outmatched by the overground, brightly lit landscapes – and be compelled to try again. Emboldened by experience and a growing understanding of the complex combat system, you may just prevail.

Or you may not. You may fail and throw the controller away in frustration. If you repeatedly come a cropper, though, the enemies don’t respawn and you’re grudgingly allowed to proceed. Even so, it’s a badge of honour just to survive, although the real sense of accomplishment comes from defeating the frequent bosses.

You’ll either admire this almost remorseless approach or, like me, lack the patience for DSII’s unwillingness to explain itself (good luck understanding its convoluted levelling systems) and fondness for cheap deaths.

That may be for some an attraction in itself, something that sets Dark Souls II apart by browbeating you into painstaking exploration – but it’s an acquired taste.




RATING: 7.5/10

AGE: 3+

AS the sixth Lego outing in little more than a year, TLMV makes Travellers Tales look more like a factory than a game studio. Each game in the revered series follows the same formula too – a knockabout spoof of its host featuring acres of brick objects to destroy, assemble and collect.

TLMV, of course, spins off the animated flick, itself a knowing parody of supervillain stories. But if you haven’t seen the movie, half the gags will be lost on you while the central message – don’t be a conformist – is subverted in the game to “always follow instructions.”

These paradoxes aside, it’s business as usual in Lego land, with a few tweaks via building mini-games. Sure, it’s well-oiled entertainment but the best gags come from the movieclips and isn’t it time we had a Lego game that’s a bit more Minecraft than mindless?



Nintendo 3DS

RATING: 7/10

AGE: 3+

AN AVERAGE Nintendo game can still hold its head higher than many good games from other publishers. There’s nothing horribly wrong with this platformer sequel (er, except maybe the chintzy tunes).

But it does little new with the charming Yoshi formula and even regresses a tad from the cheery dinosaur’s two-screen DS outing in 2007.

The hand-drawn art style and irrepressible voice samples return intact but there’s all but none of the inventive level design and sheer spirit found in every Mario or Zelda title.

Yoshi’s New Island (the irony of the unfulfilled “new” needs no comment) will certainly amuse and entertain for its short running time but it’s not a patch on former Yoshi glories or current Mario classics.



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