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  #31  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:38 AM
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Originally Posted by alexb View Post
Since most of us don't have Demon's Souls yet, come back and give us your impressions of The Ancient City. Maybe it will help convince (or perhaps scare away) some of the people on the fence about the PS3 game.
Thoughts after putting the first hour on the clock (actual playtime with deaths and restarts closer to 1.5):

-The fastest game-start-to-first-death time that I've seen in 20 years of gaming. Seriously, the game began and I started moving around to get a feel for the controls, took two steps, stepped on a patch of ground that was greenish-grey instead of greyish-green, and it collapsed and dumped me into a pool of lava.

-As Strider mentioned, the controls definitely take some getting used to, with an incredibly slow turning speed, and the right stick is underutilized.

-Between getting used to the controls and mechanics and not knowing where to go, I wound up dying four times before finding the first save point.

-Even though the graphics are obviously early-PS2-vintage, they do a great job of evoking a desolate, lonely atmosphere that reminds me a lot of Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land. The music is kind of bland and forgettable so far, though.

-Exploration has been very satisfying, as they do a good job of giving you several paths to explore at any given time, and giving you worthwhile equipment pieces at the ends of them.

-At least to begin with, you don't get any sort of free or cheap healing, just whatever herbs you can find or scrape together money to buy. For a while, I was reloading if I took even one hit in battle with the little starter plant monsters because I didn't want to use up my minuscule supply of healing. This did a good job of encouraging me to pick up the combat system quickly rather than just trading blows.

-The battle system is the best part of the game so far. It has a very deliberate pace to it, with an emphasis on watching the opponent's pattern, looking for an opening, getting good positioning, and waiting for the right moment to strike. It has a very weighty feel to it. I also love that, so far at least, as long as your tactics, execution, and timing are good, you can come out unscathed.

-Overall, I like what I've seen so far a lot.
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  #32  
Old 05-15-2009, 11:33 AM
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The only problem with playing The Ancient City before any of the PSX games is that you don't get a proper appreciation for SKELETONS, making a certain room less abjectly terrifying.

King's Field 2 and Shadow Tower are my favorites in the series, the former for its hidden doors-behind-hidden doors and SKELETONS HIDING IN TREASURE CHESTS!! SPEARS SHOOTING OUT OF THE WALLS!! AUGH FUCK, and the latter for its wide variety of creepy looking monsters and an equipment durability system that actually forces you to switch up your arsenal. Wish I could afford a PS3 for Demon's Souls, everything I've heard about it sounds great.
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  #33  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:03 PM
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Funny you should say that. I played a bit more this morning before work, and was excited to find my first secret door, until it opened and there was a skeleton behind it that took off a big chunk of my life and was the toughest fight I had faced so far in the game by a wide margin. Then I finally killed it and went "Ooh, there's a treasure chest in the room it was guarding. Bet it has something nice as a reward for killing that thi -- OH HOLY SHIT ANOTHER SKELETON HIDING IN THE CHEST BUT THIS ONE'S WEARING ARMOR AND IT TOOK OFF HALF MY HP IN ONE HIT AND NOW THE SECRET DOOR'S CLOSED AND I CAN'T GET OUT OF THE ROOM!" So yeah, it was pretty awesome, and skeletons are plenty scary in Ancient City as far as I'm concerned.

Also I think this is the only game I've played where climbing a ladder isn't just like smoothly floating up and down the wall, but actually feels like you step onto a rung, pause, step onto the next rung, etc. It's a minor detail, but really helps communicate a sense of physicality and weight -- that you're not just a floating camera with a weapon, but a person.

Is there any way to swim? When I walked into some water I just sank like a rock, couldn't find any way to swim upward, and drowned. The manual says to make sure to surface regularly for air, but doesn't say how. Of course, the manual also says that you begin your quest with a short sword, which is a lie since you start out with no equipment, and it claims that a particular magic technique was developed by the "Forest Fork."

Finally, From has a teaser site up for an announcement to be made on 5/22. Maybe if we all wish really hard, it will turn out to be for a US release of Demon's Souls. Supporting evidence!:

-The little windows on the teaser site show a red and black pattern that could be part of the background of DS's box art.

-The source code of the page contains "Transitional//EN" as part of the page name, possibly indicating a transition to an English release of an existing title rather than a totally new game.

-The bottom of the teaser has links to the Armored Core and Tenchu sites, but none for Demon's Souls. Why would they leave off their big new release, if not because next week we'll be able to click through the big doors and get access to information about it?

Last edited by Thraeg; 05-15-2009 at 02:20 PM.
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  #34  
Old 05-15-2009, 01:17 PM
StriderDL StriderDL is offline
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Ah, the skeletons in a box. I think I may have to get over the controls and replay this now.

There's no way to swim, unfortunately. You walk along the bottom until you find a way to walk back up to the surface. Don't worry too much, though. When your air runs out your HP will start to decline. Your HP will deplete at the same rate as your air meter, I think. Just bring some healing items along and they'll help you last longer underwater.
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  #35  
Old 05-16-2009, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alexb View Post
So can the item be safely claimed in some way, or does it exist merely as bait for a death trap?
Yeah, you can easily get it if you're just a bit more patient than me. After going back and exploring the rest of the level I found a switch which spilled water on all of the lava, clearing it out.

Quote:
...hostile...
...desolate...
...lonely...
...deliberate...
All of these are just as true about DS as they are about the KF series, so if you like it there you'll like it here too.

As for the combat in the game, if you're looking to fill that GoW/NG/DMC hole look elsewhere. I shy away from using the word "slow" to describe the combat, because every moment of combat is life or death. I keep comparing the game to rogue-likes, and it's true here too. The second you become complacent or lackadaisical then you become vulnerable. Glowing orbs that explode, swarms of (normally easy, but solitary) killer bugs, giant flying manta rays that look like they're for atmosphere alone. On the other side of things are the "difficult" enemies that move and fight like other PCs. These include undead samurai, black phantom knights with glowing red eyes, and named NPCs. These encounters are especially interesting because of how slow the first few moments are. Unlike the hordes who rush you at first glimpse, these baddies keep their distance, as if they're sizing you up. Like two fencers before the first strike, the tension is palpable and is rewarding even if you lose the fight.

Play the game like it's a fantasy title and your screwed, play it like it's post-apoc and you're golden. Well... at least copper. It is dark fantasy after all.

Which reminds me. I really love how subtle the story elements of the game are. "Minimalism" has been my go-to word for the last few months, but I have no shame conjuring it up here, again. There is a story here, or rather lots of smaller ones. Like the restless hero you meet the first time you arrive in the Nexus, who's decided that the whole task of adventuring is a scam and refuses to fight, hoping to break his reliance on the souls of those he kills. Each time you return to the Nexus after beating a boss, he's begun to fade further away and dementia begins to take him over. Eventually you return, and he's vanished entirely. This and the other narrative arcs aren't driven home by cutscenes. They exist in the world and demand that you pay attention. It's structurally the same as the play of the game, and that's interesting to me.

Some updates and general info. When you start the game you pick a class. That pick gives you starting stats and equipment, but nothing else. I chose wanderer. It came with a nice set of armor, high strength, dexterity, and luck, and a pretty nice Falchion. Strength and Dexterity both help to determine what weapons you can equip without penalty (with some weapons focusing on one or the other to also give you damage boosts.) Luck determines how often items and equipment drop.

When you kill any enemy you gain their souls. Dreglings (zombie like creatures from the first level) are easy to kill and pop out 10-20 souls at most. Tougher enemies (like the phantom knights I mentioned) can drop souls in the hundreds or thousands, with bosses dropping souls in the 10s of thousands.

Those souls are currency. You can buy, forge, or repair armor, weapons, and items for those souls (but be careful, because there's no place to SELL anything you've bought.) You can also use those souls to level up. Each time you level you get one stat point to put wherever you'd like, and each time you do the next time you level will cost a little bit more. It makes those first few levels very important as they can really determine a lot about how you'll play the game.

Currently I've raised my strength to 18, which allows me to use a longbow I found that requires 22 strength. (I know, that's a four strength difference, but when you use a bow you do so with two hands. Using any weapon two handed gives you a 1.5x strength bonus. This is a nuanced solution, allowing strength based weapons to gain a bigger bonus than that rapier or estoc you're stabbing with.) Having a decent ranged solution is imperative, especially once you start facing the bosses that can wreck you with one or two good hits.

I've also raised my Magic to 10. Any less and you can't learn any magic at all. Along with Magic, Will and Faith are stats that deal with the spell system. Will determines your MP, as well as how many Magic Spell slots you have. Faith opens up miracles and miracle slots for you to use. Magic is offensive, Miracles are defensive/restorative. Basic, classic stuff. I'm currently shooting Soul Arrow, a very basic blast of magic. I am seriously considering increasing will so I can get more MP and a second slot for some more heavy emergency fire power.

After playing through the first few levels as a clunky, plate mail wearing adventurer-type, I stumbled onto some wizards and assassin's equipment. I'm a bit of a hodge podge now, but with lighter armor in the leg, head, and arm sections I'm able to quick dodge without falling on my face in a loud metal CLANK.

I've also picked up a few great tools along the way. My Quality Falchion +3 was my go to until I had to fight lizard people in the caves of 2-1. The weapons in DS have different attack types: Physical, Blunt, Slashing, and Piercing, and for whatever reason the cave dwellers really hate it be stabbed. So I picked up a spear for a while, and that served me until I found a Dragon's Longsword +2. The longsword doesn't cause additional damage over time bleeding like the Falchion (or any other curved sword) does, but it is on fire, allowing it to do extra damage to a large number of enemies. I also just found a Kilij +0 (the curved sword above the Falchion), an Uchigatana (the first obtainable katana), and a Crescent Falchion +1 (Crescent weapons do magic damage, which MANY things are weak to.) I'm constantly trying to figure out which weapon works best for any given situation.

In the same level I got that whole new armory of weapons in, I met a crow that wanted shiny things. I tossed him a brass telescope that was wasting away in the bottom of my travel bag, and when I loaded my game I found that he'd given me an awesome MP regeneration ring. I'm a little more cautious about giving him other items, since unlike the telescope all of those have a lot of in game worth.

I could go on forever. Whether its about the tight design of the weapon (and upgrade) system, the aesthetic of the levels and characters, or the outstanding music (which works so well because of how rarely it plays), you'd be sick of me before I was done. So I'll cut it here for now. If you desperately need more info, the wiki is pretty outstanding.

Any questions?
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  #36  
Old 05-17-2009, 08:25 AM
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Fascinating stuff. Feel free to ramble all you want about the game, and I'll eat it up -- I just don't want to go to the wiki and get exposed to a bunch of spoilers.
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  #37  
Old 05-20-2009, 01:20 PM
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Atlus loves you.
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  #38  
Old 05-20-2009, 01:23 PM
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Fuck yeah. I'll say it again. Fuck yeah! Fall 2009...? This will be a tough wait.
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  #39  
Old 05-20-2009, 01:30 PM
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I might have to move up the purchase date for my Ueda box.
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  #40  
Old 05-20-2009, 01:31 PM
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This news just made my month.
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  #41  
Old 05-20-2009, 01:46 PM
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Oops, I just ordered this from Play-Asia. Sorry Atlus.

Edit: Never mind, I think I'll be able to cancel since it hasn't shipped yet.
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  #42  
Old 05-20-2009, 04:08 PM
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hellz yes I was just about to import this

(I still might import Africa and Aquanaut's Holiday)
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  #43  
Old 05-20-2009, 07:41 PM
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I'm going to rebuy this. Yea. I'll be that guy.
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  #44  
Old 05-20-2009, 07:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hughtron View Post
(I still might import Africa and Aquanaut's Holiday)
Isn't Africa still supposed to come out here? I've heard that a few times in the past year, but if I don't hear anything concrete in the next few months I'll probably import it as well.
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  #45  
Old 05-20-2009, 08:22 PM
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And we loves us some Atlus, too! Cool!
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  #46  
Old 05-20-2009, 08:24 PM
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When I read the news this morning I actually whispered "yes" to myself in victory. I know what I'll be doing all winter break.

My cussing jar will be mighty full this fall season.
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  #47  
Old 05-21-2009, 05:59 AM
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Sweetness. I've been replaying Ancient City to curb my appetite, and found that it is only whipping me up into a frenzy.

I just finished scoping the Engineer's Quarters. I really don't remember the layout of this game at all, despite playing through it before. Unfortunately, some kind of glitch is cropping up where a doorway will just be a black portal that makes you fall until you die (aka, the other side of the doorway isn't drawn in, so it's like falling off the edge of the world). It hasn't been gamebreaking yet but it's making me miss out on a wind crystal. At first I thought it was some atmospheric thing that I had forgotten about...like a malevolent force trying to cut off my progress. Whereas it's probably just a PS3 emulation problem, heh.
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  #48  
Old 05-21-2009, 01:37 PM
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Yeah, playing The Ancient City to help make the wait more bearable made a lot more sense when my plan was to import it as soon as e3 had come and gone with no news. Waiting for the fall is a much bigger gap.

Even without remembering the layout of the game, you're still making progress much faster than me, though, as I don't think I've found the engineer's quarters yet (currently in the frozen-over industrial area).

Fortunately, I haven't run into any glitches that are that nasty. The only one I encountered was early on, when I loaded my save game with an hour and change on the clock, played for 20 minutes or so, and when I saved, it somehow had over 45 hours logged.
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  #49  
Old 05-25-2009, 10:18 PM
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So, to see if I like the style of gameplay present in DS I picked up King's Field: The Ancient City, I haven't tried it yet though, anything I should know?
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  #50  
Old 05-25-2009, 10:46 PM
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Save whenever you get the chance and be willing to run away when things look bad. Play cautiously and be prepared for the likelihood of death and try to learn something when you do die.
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  #51  
Old 05-26-2009, 07:57 AM
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Like he said, save whenever you get the chance, and also be willing to run back to a save point if you get a bad feeling about what might be coming up. Enemies can hit pretty hard, especially early on.
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  #52  
Old 05-26-2009, 07:13 PM
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Does Demons' Souls have this bizarre physical gauge from King's Field? It took me a while to figure out why my club was bouncing off enemies.
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  #53  
Old 05-26-2009, 07:26 PM
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I almost picked up King's Field on PS2, but my gamestop didn't have a box. I feel bad about bringing that default boxart with the dude flashing gang signs into my home.
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  #54  
Old 05-26-2009, 07:26 PM
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Based on the fact I can't tell what you're talking about, I'm guessing no. You do have a "stamina" stat, that limits how many times you can perform major actions like blocking, rolling, and attacking in a short time frame. Enemies blocking your attacks will also drain your stamina quicker, and it regenerates slower when you're holding up your shield.
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  #55  
Old 05-26-2009, 08:01 PM
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Seems I got lucky Pence, mine had box art and manual.

Spineshark, the "physical" meter (as the manual dubs it) is basically a more nonsensical version of that. It completely drains every time you attack and the strength of each attack is based on how long you recharge between attacks. It also drains every time you do things like run. Not a bad idea in theory, keeps combat slow paced and weighty feeling, but the game's seeming complete unwillingness to house any documentation within the game itself, while adding to the atmosphere, does not do wonders for new players. I think it's a system that sounds like it was significantly improved by Demon's Souls.
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  #56  
Old 05-26-2009, 09:49 PM
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With nearly a decade between the two titles, one would hope so.
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  #57  
Old 05-26-2009, 09:59 PM
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I'd agree with you, except having a system like that in a PS2 game seems odd, like it's something that should have been a bit more refined than that.

I feel like I should add that I do like the game, it's just that the Physical meter threw me off.
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  #58  
Old 05-27-2009, 09:14 AM
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I've been going over this thread constantly hoping to hear more DS stories.

They're so tantalizing.
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  #59  
Old 05-28-2009, 04:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xScribble Hero View Post
I've been going over this thread constantly hoping to hear more DS stories.

They're so tantalizing.
I will have some more stories soon, I'm kind of consumed by Devil Summoner 2 right now. I'm playing both for review, but there's something about '20s/'30s demon summoning detectives that makes marathon sessions easier than european medieval super-hostility.
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  #60  
Old 05-28-2009, 07:09 AM
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I wish the crazy genre title the Japanese had given to the game was European Medieval Super-Hostility. Or maybe Evil Europe. Ebiyo RPG.
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