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Divine Souls is a free-to-play fantasy action MMO developed by Korean team GamePrix and released be Outspark, which is currently undergoing an open beta stage. And this game is some really rare weird shit, i must tell you! Their current slogan is “your console will be jealous” and that is really true, because Divine Souls is a console action made into an MMO and released on PC. I can only guess what weird stuff they were high on that made them release a game made for consoles on PC, instead of Xbox or PS3, and why they made it into an MMO in the first place. So, this game gave me a really mixed feeling… Being a console-style has both its pluses and minuses, so here’s my first impression on this game, if you’re interested.
First on, why i call this game a console game? Let’s see… Because it was made that way! Remember Fable? The first part, that was ported on PC. I played it on my notebook and it felt really weird, because console games has a whole different design than PC ones – there’s no vast, open game world that we are used to, like in the Gothic, the Elder Scrolls or Fallout games – it’s more like you’re moving in a metro tunnel, unable to step to the left or to the right, because the walls won’t let you, even if they are invisible. Here we have all the same console stuff: no open world for you, just the walls and small instanced areas. If you see, for example, a tent – there’s no way you can get under it, because a wall of glass holds you out.
(btw, about screenshots here and below – they’re showing low level character because i was too annoyed with game crashes to take screens at the higher levels then.)
Another thing is controls. Unlike other console-to-PC games, Divine Souls designers had PC in mind and made a keyboard and mouse controls convenient enough to let us play the game with them. But, this game also supports Xbox compatible gamepads for PC, and to tell the truth i plugged mine in after some time. Yes, you can play with mouse&keyboard, but gamepad feels much more better – what would you want from a console game? The only problem for me was that i don’t have Xbox controller, i have an old Logitech RumblePad2 and couldn’t make the game to recognize its keys when i wanted to change the default key layout for the gamepad. The default controls worked, but not custom… I consider it a bug, because sometimes a key worked, but then stopped answering at all.
Now, about the instanced areas again. When you enter Divine Souls, there are a few common areas where quest and trader NPCs are dwelling, and there are gates leading to dungeon areas. These areas are pure instances, you can enter them alone or in a team - you’re offered to choose when you’re entering one – and also one gate can lead to several instances for different levels, which you can choose too. Also, there is different difficulty levels for each instance, new levels open from easy to hard as you progress further into the game. When you’re given a quest, you go into an instance and simply kill everything that moves in there, after you’re done a new gate opens and lets you into the next part of the instance. In the end you either just reaching a new common area or have to kill a boss mob. When you killed everyone and finished the instance, you’ve given a “bonus stage” that is like an rock-scissors-paper game and you’re getting some additional money or items in case you won.
" height="208" src="http://lh5.ggpht.com/_A1qh3u1M_a8/TQuc4pxfOJI/AAAAAAAAAK0/pVzsFbviV8E/2010-12-17%2016-46-8_thumb%5B2%5D.jpg?imgmax=800" title="It's hard to take screens on Divine Souls when you're fighting " width="370" style="float: left; border: 0px;" /> This “kill them all” style is all what this game is about, really. Fighting system is the main promotional point of Divine Souls, because the fighting style is all console too. You probably saw the combat videos, and if not, here i posted some just last week. The second video in that post shows pretty much everything you’d see when you begin playing. Fighting consists of an attacks, jumps and blocks, all weaved into a chain of combos you have to perform. There are a huge list of those combos available from the very first level, and you can learn new ones every few levels. There are also “divine skills” that you can execute once in a while, which requires some sort of a “divine energy” and isn’t available at all time.
Fighting in Divine Souls is fun. It really is. I’d come again to play it just for the fun of it, but other console parts of the game is really letting me down with the feeling of a small, repeatable instances. And you’ll have to repeat them over and over, many times killing its inhabitants and bosses – over and over and over again, because quests are all “kill this and kill that”, and when you clear the instance chain you have to start it again - because you still are missing 3 more kobold thingies. And there’s no way you can enter an instance and just walk out of it when you’ve got enough stuff – you have to clear it to get the gate opened. So it’s grind, grind and grind from the early beginning – and it’s fun because of the fights, yes, but it can’t be fun for all the eternity, so earlier or later the grind will take your divine soul, heheh. Well, unless you’ll pause for PVP action, which at least is some fresh air in a land of grinding. Though, get your ass ready for some kicking, because a lot of time passes until you get some gear for your character.
There is one more console mark on this game: its graphics. The visuals are outdated. Those people who say that Divine Souls looks good haven’t seen contemporary A-class Western MMOs to say so, for a console game – yes, maybe it looks good, but for a PC MMO it shows a very average graphics. Textures are all blurry and covered in a high level bloom that’s supposed to hide the low-res textures. Characters looks somewhat better and not so blurred, but the models could be better too. By the way, about the characters: there’s almost no customization at all. Divine Souls has 3 classes – a girl with magic gun, a girl with big sword and a guy with cool pants. That’s it, you can’t have a guy with magic gun or a girl with cool pants, no way. Each character has 4 faces that look really alike to me; 4 hair style, that are at least different, and several options for skin and hair colors. So practically Divine Souls is a land of clones, especially considering that for now cash shop is not available and there’s just 1-2 items per 5-10 levels to wear, so many characters look really identical.
Standard feature of a console game is that its being made for a standard hardware and doesn’t needs any scalable quality levels, so does Divine Souls. Or doesn’t – it doesn’t has any options to change texture or anti-aliasing quality (if it has any anti-aliasing), or shaders, or whatever. You can change from full-screen to window mode, thanks gods, and you can pick from a whole 3 (THREE) screen resolution sizes (the biggest one covered a whole half of my screen). And – surprise, surprise! – Divine Souls has an option for stereo graphics! Thought, i don’t know how would that look, because my graphic card doesn’t supports that and my husband won’t let me install Divine Souls on his comp (actually, when he sneaked upon me playing Divine Souls, i jumped up at his scream “WHAT?! you’re playing weird shit with a gamepad?!” %)
The interface… Well, what do you guess, it’s console. Weird thing is when you play with a gamepad, you still need mouse to click in some menus, which is annoying. When you fight there are kills count showing on your screen, and when you cleared the stage you’re shown a big “Stage cleared!” sign the size of a screen and stats on this particular stage and your character, plus rock-scissors-paper stage i mentioned above. Totally not an mmo-style, i tell you… feels like i’m playing an offline fighting game or something...
Music and sound effects. This is where Divine Souls rocks and sucks at the same time. The music is really, i mean it, really cool! Especially the one that plays when you’re in a fight – it’s very energetic and the compositions aren’t too short, so it’s not very repeatable. Reminds me of an Unreal series score, the one they released on a “History of Unreal Music” CD. Also, the characters are speaking, the voice acting is not full, but many quests trigger cut-scenes where characters speak to each other. But I'd rather prefer to shut up some NPCs, because some voices are very annoying, the old mage guy for example. Each time you speak to a trader or quest NPC they say the same phrase over and over, and you can’t shut them up. Sound effects leave mixed feeling too: there’s not so many sounds coming up when you walk, so for example walking in water triggers the same “splash” sound over and over again, which gets pretty annoying too. When you fight there are repeatable sound too, but not so annoying at least.
And now it’s time for a part where i go totally apeshit and kick GamePrix where it hurts. When was Divine Souls closed beta? Back in August. What have changed since then? Nothing, it’s the same bugged crap it was before, for as far as i can see. Couldn’t they do something to the resolution options in four months? Apparently not, and there is more things that made me angry.
There are still GUI problems – i assume, they’re calling it features in their inner meetings – you can’t change anything in GUI, even resize a chat window! Some windows you can’t even more on your screen, while some other are perfectly movable. Why is that so? A mystery to me. The chat window is supposed to be hiding automatically when you don’t need it, sometimes it hides its header (where channel names are written) and you have to click in a empty screen space to change a channel, because it won’t come out to show what you’re clicking!
Next – the game is bugged. They had 4 months since closed beta to fix that stuff – okay, you didn’t want to add more items, or more screen resolutions, or fix the interface – okay, let’s imagine it will be fixed sometime on the live servers. But the bugs?! How could you not fix your critical bugs, hello! The very first critical bug is found right away, it seems to me that Divine Souls has some serious memory leakage problem because the game hangs on every half an hour AT BEST. Maybe it’s not so obvious on a machine with 4+ GB RAM, but on 2GB it can even happen each 15 minutes if i go between zones too often. Sometime it’s possible to alt-tab and close Divine Souls, but sometimes it hangs so bad that only a reboot helps. There are other bugs with controls and with speech freezing and repeating, but it’s minor and at least could be endured, but rebooting every half an hour… ugh, no.
So, to sum up it all…
1) Console stuff all over the place, no open world, feels like metro
2) COOL fighting
3) COOL music
4) Sound & graphics is average at best, but it doesn’t really matter in a game like that
5) bugs, bugs and bugs! that’s what matters
And 6) some serious grinding on the horizon
I’d give Divine Souls 5050 – if they at least fix the most critical bugs, it will be possible to play and have fun. And we’ll have to see what comes with the cash shop, because it’s not available yet – how will it affect the gameplay and how much money will it require? Anyway, i will keep and eye on this game, in hope that GamePrix won’t screw it more than it did already – and maybe it will turn out to be a nice game for a niche it created, who knows?
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