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Sabrent High Speed 10 Port USB 3.0 HUB + 5V 2A Smart Charging Port with 3 Power Switches LED Indicators and 12V 4A Power Adapter [VIA VL812 Chipset] (HB-RUS1)
Sabrent High Speed 10 Port USB 3.0 HUB + 5V 2A Smart Charging Port with 3 Power Switches LED Indicators and 12V 4A Power Adapter [VIA VL812 Chipset] (HB-RUS1)
Offered by Store4PC
Price: $55.99
41 used & new from $27.99

2.0 out of 5 stars not quite right, January 8, 2016
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Great product but I think I got a rare lemon. Three of the ports did not work. I reordered it and the new one is fine.


The Art of Fallout 4
The Art of Fallout 4
by Bethesda Game Studios
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $32.48
68 used & new from $18.39

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Easily the best art book that Bethesda has put out, December 25, 2015
This review is from: The Art of Fallout 4 (Hardcover)
Just got this for Christmas and its one of the best art books I own. Strikes a good balance between tons of art and narrative text to explain some key concepts and art. Tons of gorgeous art and models, this is Bethesda's best art book they've put together.


Guardians Of The Galaxy [Blu-ray]
Guardians Of The Galaxy [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Chris Pratt
Price: $24.96
60 used & new from $9.98

5.0 out of 5 stars Absolute Blockbuster Perfection, December 25, 2014
THIS EDITION NOTE: This copy comes with a digital copy, which is accessible and DOWNLOADABLE through iTunes. While most movies opt out for UltraViolet copies (that are online DRM only), this edition features a full HD iTunes copy. For this very reason, it gets my highest recommendation.

Without getting too poetic, Guardians of the Galaxy is fantastic. Pure and simple. Guardians is just flat-out exactly what I wanted from another "group against badguys" action spectacle: a witty and snappy sense of humor, phenomenal writing, *gorgeous* special effects, well rounded and lovable characters and an overall story that weaves its way effortlessly into the Marvel movie mythos. It's one of those rare, jam-packed rides that makes me want to just go get right back in line and enjoy it all over again.

It stands right next to The Avengers as an incredibly entertaining piece of filmmaking while also offering plenty of its own style and humor to make it unique, while the Sci-Fi backdrop makes Guardians all the more enthralling and fresh. In a mere two hours the characters grow and surprise, which is incredible for 5 major characters never before introduced to the Marvel Movieverse.

The whole cast is phenomenal, but it's evident that Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) steals the show (I think the whole audience agreed on that one). Combine winning and hysterical performances with smart, snappy writing and you get an excellent, side splitting action comedy. Who knew? Chris Pratt is also *perfect* as StarLord, Saldana plays Gamora very well, Vin Diesel's winning performance of Groot is awesome, and Bautista's character is just plain funny.

Combine all the above with some great emotional notes, a few excellent and relevant themes, a fun and entertaining score (combining a memorable orchestral score with classic 70's tunes) all while exploring an enticing and incredible world makes Guardians of the Galaxy just so much fun. It may have some issues, but I had too much fun to care. Top of the line entertainment all around, and one of the best movies of the year.


BAYONETTA 2 Original Soundtrack (CD5枚組)
BAYONETTA 2 Original Soundtrack (CD5枚組)
Offered by EXP-JAPAN (from the U.S.)
Price: $72.99
90 used & new from $56.93

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible package, a stunning score, December 4, 2014
Fantastic, sturdy and beautiful packaging. A stellar musical experience overall. The music is ABSOLTULEY one of the best video game soundtracks of the year. It's a bombastic and epic score, but subtle and beautiful when necessary. The blend of jazz, funk, orchestral, and rock is so expertly balanced from start to finish. Listening to this soundtrack is the perfect companion for any musician and game music lover: its got something for everyone and all moods.

BEAUTIFUL!


Mario Golf: World Tour - Nintendo 3DS
Mario Golf: World Tour - Nintendo 3DS
Offered by Lotsa Electronics
Price: $32.80
64 used & new from $18.50

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Golf fans rejoice...Golf newbies welcome!, May 2, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Keeping it short and sweet:

Everything is fantastic. The depth, the challenge, the high amount of replay value and game modes make this a high value title (and the fact that it is only 30 dollars is a huge plus too). Online modes are deep, fun, and highly enjoyable (online tournaments, vs. play with a friend(s)). Mechanics themselves are tight and highly polished, with each hole serving as a new challenge. Graphically, the game looks fantastic (aside from the low res putting grid). The music is great, and very catchy (can be turned off), while character voice-overs are indeed a little graining (can't be turned off). Tons of content, a great single player mode, tons of replay value and challenge make this equal parts perfect for pick up and play as well as for extended play sessions.

See you on the links!


The Grand Budapest Hotel [Blu-ray]
The Grand Budapest Hotel [Blu-ray]
DVD ~ Ralph Fiennes
Offered by CASTLE (No Tax)
Price: $12.78
74 used & new from $1.98

237 of 262 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Grand Adventure Worth Experiencing Again and Again, March 29, 2014
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Elegant, zany, laugh out loud funny and beautifully executed from start to finish, the latest from Wes Anderson's wild imagination is a wonderful film with a timeless and wonderfully executed story to tell.

The Grand Budapest Hotel follows the misadventures of M. Gustave (Ralph Fiennes) and Zero Mustafa (newcomer Tony Revolori) as they avoid a bitter family out for their heads, a persistent yet misguided police force and the military of their fictional country. It's as lively and exciting as one might think, but Anderson's talent for film directing is finally at it's peak. A deliciously whimsical adventure ensues, and with an all star cast permeating this wonderful movie landscape things can only be wonderful. The themes of humanity and responsibility are well though out, and the impending fear of war within this illusionary tale make for a great juxtaposition against the backdrop of grave tragedy.

First and foremost, this is a Wes Anderson movie. It is whimsical, darkly comedic but isn't without its wonderful bits of humanity and heartwarming character development. Everything is here, from the sweeping panoramas, zoom shots and dioramas for sets that we expect. The sense of direction and style is impeccable, and throughout this myriad of genres his pleasant and unique style shines brightly. Everything from the pacing to character development is perfect; While the film does clip along, nothing feels rushed. I absolutely loved every moment of this frenzied doll house escapade, from the whimsical moments of action to the darkly comical poetry of Ralph Fiennes' character.

Speaking of which, Ralph Fiennes is in the zone; M. Gustave is one of his finest roles he's played in his whole career. Bitingly funny, endearing and lovable, M. Gustave steals the show. But without the rest of the cast (Tony Revolori, Jeff Goldblum, Harvey Keitel, Willem Dafoe, Adiren Brody, Jude Law...the list goes on) The Grand Budapest Hotel wouldn't be nearly as entertaining or lively as it is. Anderson has put together an incredibly talented cast, and everyone does a phenomenal job (even Owen Wilson)! The dynamics between various characters, the writing and the screenplay are absolutely fantastic.

Musically The Grand Budapest Hotel perfectly complements the film also. It's whimsical, lively, and comical while also being very unique. Epic lute solos, gorgeous choirs and those typical "Anderson beats" permeate the entirety of the film. It's absolutely wonderful, from unique start to whimsical and silly finish. Specific scenes also have a musical arc (one of the best examples is the monastery scene), and being a music fan this complexity and symbiosis of score and film is wonderful.

My biggest complaint is actually something that I appreciate, which is odd! The Grand Budapest Hotel is a story told from different perspectives throughout the years. When the film cuts to the 1930's, it changes to a 4:3 perspective to mimic the style things were filmed back in the day. While this historical nod is excellent, I wish the entirety was in widescreen. Anderson's films are very detailed and the scenes are filled with amazing detail; With this I feel that Anderson almost does his own film a disservice by cutting off and making the aspect ratio as it is. Also, some mild obscenities (played for laughs, and are indeed quite funny and help to characterize villains) may seem too weirdly out of place to really be funny for some.

The Grand Budapest Hotel is a treat. For the eyes, for the ears, and also for the heart. The relationship that sprouts between M. Gustave and Zero Mustafa are some of the most believable and endearing moments of any of his films, as well as any new films I've seen of late. The story is original, the music is wonderful, the acting and script is typical Anderson; everything about The Grand Budapest Hotel sings. If you don't take my word for it, consider that the theater filled with middle aged and older audience members was laughing out loud constantly and finished the film with a lively round of applause.

Thank God for Wes Anderson, one of the only original artists left in Hollywood.

EDIT: I just saw it again in an off campus arts theater, and I loved it just as much (if not more) the second time. The humor is so quick and snappy the jokes never get old, and the great themes and story really resonate a second time through. Absolutely a fantastic film.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 9, 2015 12:33 PM PDT


Dark Souls II - Xbox 360
Dark Souls II - Xbox 360
Offered by Hitgaming Video Games
Price: $13.17
134 used & new from $4.99

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond Death (And Have Fun The Entire Way), March 24, 2014
Sequel to the widely acclaimed Dark Souls and finale to the "Souls" trilogy, Dark Souls 2 puts sword and shield (or sorcery, or hammer, or axe...) into your hands once again in hopes that you can triumph death and despair in this RPG by FromSoftware. Bigger, meaner, and more epic than either of its predecessors Dark Souls 2 represents a stunning achievement in design and execution. It welcomes new players with a friendlier tutorial and improved mechanics, but veterans of the Souls series need not be worried. Dark Souls 2 is brutal and challenging, testing you every step of the way with tough bosses and overwhelming odds. But Dark Souls 2 is also beautiful and stunning, featuring a world that is well worth exploring every nook and cranny, from dark and dead pits to harrowing civilizations long lost in time above the clouds. Dark Souls 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece, through and through.

Story, Presentation, and World – 10/10/10 – 10

The story of Dark Souls 2 is a fantastical tale of kingdoms lost in time, ruled by monsters and hostile forces ready to challenge the player. Similar to the previous games, Dark Souls 2 is a mildly minimalistic game in terms of delivering information; the player must explore and discover most of the world himself or herself. It’s an impressive story and world, with a staggering amount of thought behind its deep lore and characters. It’s a world filled with mystery, where the player’s imagination is key to understanding and connecting the loose ties between characters and their place in Drangleic. And I’m sure the ending will be something discussed by Souls fans for years to come.
Dark Souls 2 also features a significant upgrade in presentation values. Things are cleaner, nuanced elements in character building are more clear and menus are designed with a greater emphasis on ease of use. It’s all still very much like the previous games, just refined and improved to perfection.

Graphics and Art Direction – 9/10 – 9.5

The world of Drangleic is an epic land ripe for exploration. Half of this experience, though, is the staggeringly huge variety of places you’ll visit while on your quest. Decrepit crypts, castles in the sky, and even the garbage bin of Drangleic itself, the art direction for Dark Souls 2 continues the FromSoftware’s creative trend in developing horrendous creatures and placing them in a fascinating world. There are tons of unique bosses and enemies out for your hollow head, and each and every one is animated with a certain professionalism only a Japanese studio could produce. Along with these disturbing denizens of Drangleic, the places you’ll visit are equally impressive; not simply because of their design but also the character, increased color pallet and pure imagination every new area brings. To say that Dark Souls 2’s art direction is great would be a crime; it is simply stunning, and is one of a kind.
Graphically, Dark Souls 2 is superior to its predecessors in many ways. You’ll be happy to know that the game runs at a steady 30 FPS throughout (PS3) to 60 FPS (360 version is more consistently smoother, PS3 does hit 60 FPS in enclosed and small areas) and technically performs without a hitch. The big improvement here is the animations, which have benefited immensely from being motion captured. Elements of your character react with realism, and enemies feel lifelike and move like they should. The improved lighting engine creates a surprising sense of immersion (although is not the lighting engine we were advertised last year), and the improved physics engine is icing on the cake (character’s armor, such as loincloths and hoods flow in the wind and react realistically). Grainy textures and anti-aliasing problems do occur more often than I would’ve like to see (and are simply limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3). The dumbed down lighting engine is a disappointment as well as the grainy textures and various visual hiccups, making a next gen version of Dark Souls 2 all the more tantalizing.

Gameplay and Design – 10/10 – 10

Where as Demon’s Souls introduced us to the impossibly challenging difficulty the series is known for and Dark Souls improved the online and flow of combat, Dark Souls 2 has perfected what the series is known for. Tight and claustrophobic combat headlines the game, while rewarding exploration, online PvP, summoning and aiding other players are all improved. Dark Souls 2 continues the trend of “endless tactics” with the numerous amount of weapons, which all feel distinct and fun to use. Everything has been improved, refined, and polished. The classic gameplay is still as challenging as ever, too. Fears of Dark Souls 2 dumbing down the difficulty and level of challenge have gone completely unwarranted. If anything, this may be the most challenging of all the Souls games, but also the most fair. Yes, you’ll die, get punished because of it, and lose your souls (which can be retrieved within the next life) and your human status, if you’re human. But Dark Souls 2, unlike its previous entries, clearly explains the effects of items, materials, and penalties. You die because you’re unfamiliar with a boss, area, or unique enemy tactic. You only come back stronger, more aware of the dangers you will face and more capable to tackle them quicker with more precision. Of the 245 times I died through my play-through, I rarely felt cheated. Only a few times (fighting optional bosses and online PvP) did I feel this way.
In terms of design, Dark Souls 2 is built with the player in mind. Beginning the adventure is tough, as is every video game. Healing items are rare in the beginning, and the Estus Flask only offers a swig at first. But as you explore this hostile and beautiful world, you’ll be rewarded with new and better armors, lifegems, status ailment healers, new weapons and sometimes the rare shards to improve the Estus Flask. Exploration doesn’t get more rewarding than this. Dark Souls 2 also offers a huge collection of memorable boss battles; everything from quick thinking to pure dodging skill is required throughout the many, many bosses that stand in your way. And you will take them all out, I believe in you! Dark Souls 2 is rewarding every step of the way; from it’s improved, tighter combat, intricate level design and unique character building this is an RPG that sacrifices nothing it’s famous for, but rather embraces its flaws and only improves upon them.

Sound Design and Soundtrack – 9/10 – 9.5

Dark Souls 2 will immerse you in more ways than one, and that’s mainly because of it’s subtle sound design. Some say the best sound design is one that you don’t even notice; Dark Souls 2 is accomplished in this aspect. Swords will clash and spells will be cast, and they all sound great. The ambience while exploring each area really shines brightly as well. From creepy distant cackles to hollow and decrepit crypts, everything sounds as it should. Voice acting, a small part of all the Souls games, has been improved and expanded here and it is all delivered very well.
Dark Souls 2 features, hands down, the best score for any of the Souls games. Each boss fight has it’s own unique theme, memorable and musical enough to listen to outside the game. The tragic and intense orchestration and score really highlights each boss fight, making each an assault on the senses and emotions (and the emotional depth of the soundtrack itself is stunning). And don’t worry, the classic finale aria is beautiful and thoroughly composed with a purpose. Mr. Motoi Sakruaba, take a bow.

Lasting Appeal – 10

Unlike previous Souls games, once the credits roll there is still more to do. An altered new game plus allows people to continue to explore past the credits which is excellent for those who want to continue their adventure and clear optional areas. The game does have the classic new game plus, though, in which you do less damage while enemies do more. There are multiple new challenges that await players in new game plus, all of which require new tactics and skills. Aside from that, players can re-spec their characters to try different builds, join and work through multiple covenants, beat optional bosses and work your way through PvP. Dark Souls 2 offers a lot to do post-credits.

Final Score - 10/10

Dark Souls 2 took me just about 52 hours to complete (final time - 51:50) and I died 245 times. Oddly enough, though, every minute within this world was incredible. Drangleic is a gorgeous and oddly inviting world to explore, and your adventure will take you to the far corners of this hostile place, fighting off monsters and battling players along the way. It was an immensely satisfying and enjoyable game, and most of all it felt incredibly fair the entire way through. It is not only one of the best games I have ever played, but it gives reasons for video games to exist. Only in video games can you receive the same sense of exploration and discovery that Dark Souls 2 offers, and that’s why it’s such a grand masterpiece and a testament to video games as a medium.

(average = 9.8, rounding to 10 based on 20 point scale)


Dark Souls II (Black Armor Edition) - Xbox 360 Black Armor Edition
Dark Souls II (Black Armor Edition) - Xbox 360 Black Armor Edition
Offered by Golden Findings
Price: $22.88
72 used & new from $8.24

5.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond Death (And Have Fun The Entire Way), March 24, 2014
Sequel to the widely acclaimed Dark Souls and finale to the "Souls" trilogy, Dark Souls 2 puts sword and shield (or sorcery, or hammer, or axe...) into your hands once again in hopes that you can triumph death and despair in this RPG by FromSoftware. Bigger, meaner, and more epic than either of its predecessors Dark Souls 2 represents a stunning achievement in design and execution. It welcomes new players with a friendlier tutorial and improved mechanics, but veterans of the Souls series need not be worried. Dark Souls 2 is brutal and challenging, testing you every step of the way with tough bosses and overwhelming odds. But Dark Souls 2 is also beautiful and stunning, featuring a world that is well worth exploring every nook and cranny, from dark and dead pits to harrowing civilizations long lost in time above the clouds. Dark Souls 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece, through and through.

Story, Presentation, and World – 10/10/10 – 10

The story of Dark Souls 2 is a fantastical tale of kingdoms lost in time, ruled by monsters and hostile forces ready to challenge the player. Similar to the previous games, Dark Souls 2 is a mildly minimalistic game in terms of delivering information; the player must explore and discover most of the world himself or herself. It’s an impressive story and world, with a staggering amount of thought behind its deep lore and characters. It’s a world filled with mystery, where the player’s imagination is key to understanding and connecting the loose ties between characters and their place in Drangleic. And I’m sure the ending will be something discussed by Souls fans for years to come.
Dark Souls 2 also features a significant upgrade in presentation values. Things are cleaner, nuanced elements in character building are more clear and menus are designed with a greater emphasis on ease of use. It’s all still very much like the previous games, just refined and improved to perfection.

Graphics and Art Direction – 9/10 – 9.5

The world of Drangleic is an epic land ripe for exploration. Half of this experience, though, is the staggeringly huge variety of places you’ll visit while on your quest. Decrepit crypts, castles in the sky, and even the garbage bin of Drangleic itself, the art direction for Dark Souls 2 continues the FromSoftware’s creative trend in developing horrendous creatures and placing them in a fascinating world. There are tons of unique bosses and enemies out for your hollow head, and each and every one is animated with a certain professionalism only a Japanese studio could produce. Along with these disturbing denizens of Drangleic, the places you’ll visit are equally impressive; not simply because of their design but also the character, increased color pallet and pure imagination every new area brings. To say that Dark Souls 2’s art direction is great would be a crime; it is simply stunning, and is one of a kind.
Graphically, Dark Souls 2 is superior to its predecessors in many ways. You’ll be happy to know that the game runs at a steady 30 FPS throughout (PS3) to 60 FPS (360 version is more consistently smoother, PS3 does hit 60 FPS in enclosed and small areas) and technically performs without a hitch. The big improvement here is the animations, which have benefited immensely from being motion captured. Elements of your character react with realism, and enemies feel lifelike and move like they should. The improved lighting engine creates a surprising sense of immersion (although is not the lighting engine we were advertised last year), and the improved physics engine is icing on the cake (character’s armor, such as loincloths and hoods flow in the wind and react realistically). Grainy textures and anti-aliasing problems do occur more often than I would’ve like to see (and are simply limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3). The dumbed down lighting engine is a disappointment as well as the grainy textures and various visual hiccups, making a next gen version of Dark Souls 2 all the more tantalizing.

Gameplay and Design – 10/10 – 10

Where as Demon’s Souls introduced us to the impossibly challenging difficulty the series is known for and Dark Souls improved the online and flow of combat, Dark Souls 2 has perfected what the series is known for. Tight and claustrophobic combat headlines the game, while rewarding exploration, online PvP, summoning and aiding other players are all improved. Dark Souls 2 continues the trend of “endless tactics” with the numerous amount of weapons, which all feel distinct and fun to use. Everything has been improved, refined, and polished. The classic gameplay is still as challenging as ever, too. Fears of Dark Souls 2 dumbing down the difficulty and level of challenge have gone completely unwarranted. If anything, this may be the most challenging of all the Souls games, but also the most fair. Yes, you’ll die, get punished because of it, and lose your souls (which can be retrieved within the next life) and your human status, if you’re human. But Dark Souls 2, unlike its previous entries, clearly explains the effects of items, materials, and penalties. You die because you’re unfamiliar with a boss, area, or unique enemy tactic. You only come back stronger, more aware of the dangers you will face and more capable to tackle them quicker with more precision. Of the 245 times I died through my play-through, I rarely felt cheated. Only a few times (fighting optional bosses and online PvP) did I feel this way.
In terms of design, Dark Souls 2 is built with the player in mind. Beginning the adventure is tough, as is every video game. Healing items are rare in the beginning, and the Estus Flask only offers a swig at first. But as you explore this hostile and beautiful world, you’ll be rewarded with new and better armors, lifegems, status ailment healers, new weapons and sometimes the rare shards to improve the Estus Flask. Exploration doesn’t get more rewarding than this. Dark Souls 2 also offers a huge collection of memorable boss battles; everything from quick thinking to pure dodging skill is required throughout the many, many bosses that stand in your way. And you will take them all out, I believe in you! Dark Souls 2 is rewarding every step of the way; from it’s improved, tighter combat, intricate level design and unique character building this is an RPG that sacrifices nothing it’s famous for, but rather embraces its flaws and only improves upon them.

Sound Design and Soundtrack – 9/10 – 9.5

Dark Souls 2 will immerse you in more ways than one, and that’s mainly because of it’s subtle sound design. Some say the best sound design is one that you don’t even notice; Dark Souls 2 is accomplished in this aspect. Swords will clash and spells will be cast, and they all sound great. The ambience while exploring each area really shines brightly as well. From creepy distant cackles to hollow and decrepit crypts, everything sounds as it should. Voice acting, a small part of all the Souls games, has been improved and expanded here and it is all delivered very well.
Dark Souls 2 features, hands down, the best score for any of the Souls games. Each boss fight has it’s own unique theme, memorable and musical enough to listen to outside the game. The tragic and intense orchestration and score really highlights each boss fight, making each an assault on the senses and emotions (and the emotional depth of the soundtrack itself is stunning). And don’t worry, the classic finale aria is beautiful and thoroughly composed with a purpose. Mr. Motoi Sakruaba, take a bow.

Lasting Appeal – 10

Unlike previous Souls games, once the credits roll there is still more to do. An altered new game plus allows people to continue to explore past the credits which is excellent for those who want to continue their adventure and clear optional areas. The game does have the classic new game plus, though, in which you do less damage while enemies do more. There are multiple new challenges that await players in new game plus, all of which require new tactics and skills. Aside from that, players can re-spec their characters to try different builds, join and work through multiple covenants, beat optional bosses and work your way through PvP. Dark Souls 2 offers a lot to do post-credits.

Final Score - 10/10

Dark Souls 2 took me just about 52 hours to complete (final time - 51:50) and I died 245 times. Oddly enough, though, every minute within this world was incredible. Drangleic is a gorgeous and oddly inviting world to explore, and your adventure will take you to the far corners of this hostile place, fighting off monsters and battling players along the way. It was an immensely satisfying and enjoyable game, and most of all it felt incredibly fair the entire way through. It is not only one of the best games I have ever played, but it gives reasons for video games to exist. Only in video games can you receive the same sense of exploration and discovery that Dark Souls 2 offers, and that’s why it’s such a grand masterpiece and a testament to video games as a medium.

(average = 9.8, rounding to 10 based on 20 point scale)


Dark Souls II - Playstation 3
Dark Souls II - Playstation 3
Offered by LEVEL 257
Price: $15.00
194 used & new from $3.29

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond Death (And Have Fun The Entire Way), March 24, 2014
Sequel to the widely acclaimed Dark Souls and finale to the "Souls" trilogy, Dark Souls 2 puts sword and shield (or sorcery, or hammer, or axe...) into your hands once again in hopes that you can triumph death and despair in this RPG by FromSoftware. Bigger, meaner, and more epic than either of its predecessors Dark Souls 2 represents a stunning achievement in design and execution. It welcomes new players with a friendlier tutorial and improved mechanics, but veterans of the Souls series need not be worried. Dark Souls 2 is brutal and challenging, testing you every step of the way with tough bosses and overwhelming odds. But Dark Souls 2 is also beautiful and stunning, featuring a world that is well worth exploring every nook and cranny, from dark and dead pits to harrowing civilizations long lost in time above the clouds. Dark Souls 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece, through and through.

Story, Presentation, and World – 10/10/10 – 10

The story of Dark Souls 2 is a fantastical tale of kingdoms lost in time, ruled by monsters and hostile forces ready to challenge the player. Similar to the previous games, Dark Souls 2 is a mildly minimalistic game in terms of delivering information; the player must explore and discover most of the world himself or herself. It’s an impressive story and world, with a staggering amount of thought behind its deep lore and characters. It’s a world filled with mystery, where the player’s imagination is key to understanding and connecting the loose ties between characters and their place in Drangleic. And I’m sure the ending will be something discussed by Souls fans for years to come.
Dark Souls 2 also features a significant upgrade in presentation values. Things are cleaner, nuanced elements in character building are more clear and menus are designed with a greater emphasis on ease of use. It’s all still very much like the previous games, just refined and improved to perfection.

Graphics and Art Direction – 9/10 – 9.5

The world of Drangleic is an epic land ripe for exploration. Half of this experience, though, is the staggeringly huge variety of places you’ll visit while on your quest. Decrepit crypts, castles in the sky, and even the garbage bin of Drangleic itself, the art direction for Dark Souls 2 continues the FromSoftware’s creative trend in developing horrendous creatures and placing them in a fascinating world. There are tons of unique bosses and enemies out for your hollow head, and each and every one is animated with a certain professionalism only a Japanese studio could produce. Along with these disturbing denizens of Drangleic, the places you’ll visit are equally impressive; not simply because of their design but also the character, increased color pallet and pure imagination every new area brings. To say that Dark Souls 2’s art direction is great would be a crime; it is simply stunning, and is one of a kind.
Graphically, Dark Souls 2 is superior to its predecessors in many ways. You’ll be happy to know that the game runs at a steady 30 FPS throughout (PS3) to 60 FPS (360 version is more consistently smoother, PS3 does hit 60 FPS in enclosed and small areas) and technically performs without a hitch. The big improvement here is the animations, which have benefited immensely from being motion captured. Elements of your character react with realism, and enemies feel lifelike and move like they should. The improved lighting engine creates a surprising sense of immersion (although is not the lighting engine we were advertised last year), and the improved physics engine is icing on the cake (character’s armor, such as loincloths and hoods flow in the wind and react realistically). Grainy textures and anti-aliasing problems do occur more often than I would’ve like to see (and are simply limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3). The dumbed down lighting engine is a disappointment as well as the grainy textures and various visual hiccups, making a next gen version of Dark Souls 2 all the more tantalizing.

Gameplay and Design – 10/10 – 10

Where as Demon’s Souls introduced us to the impossibly challenging difficulty the series is known for and Dark Souls improved the online and flow of combat, Dark Souls 2 has perfected what the series is known for. Tight and claustrophobic combat headlines the game, while rewarding exploration, online PvP, summoning and aiding other players are all improved. Dark Souls 2 continues the trend of “endless tactics” with the numerous amount of weapons, which all feel distinct and fun to use. Everything has been improved, refined, and polished. The classic gameplay is still as challenging as ever, too. Fears of Dark Souls 2 dumbing down the difficulty and level of challenge have gone completely unwarranted. If anything, this may be the most challenging of all the Souls games, but also the most fair. Yes, you’ll die, get punished because of it, and lose your souls (which can be retrieved within the next life) and your human status, if you’re human. But Dark Souls 2, unlike its previous entries, clearly explains the effects of items, materials, and penalties. You die because you’re unfamiliar with a boss, area, or unique enemy tactic. You only come back stronger, more aware of the dangers you will face and more capable to tackle them quicker with more precision. Of the 245 times I died through my play-through, I rarely felt cheated. Only a few times (fighting optional bosses and online PvP) did I feel this way.
In terms of design, Dark Souls 2 is built with the player in mind. Beginning the adventure is tough, as is every video game. Healing items are rare in the beginning, and the Estus Flask only offers a swig at first. But as you explore this hostile and beautiful world, you’ll be rewarded with new and better armors, lifegems, status ailment healers, new weapons and sometimes the rare shards to improve the Estus Flask. Exploration doesn’t get more rewarding than this. Dark Souls 2 also offers a huge collection of memorable boss battles; everything from quick thinking to pure dodging skill is required throughout the many, many bosses that stand in your way. And you will take them all out, I believe in you! Dark Souls 2 is rewarding every step of the way; from it’s improved, tighter combat, intricate level design and unique character building this is an RPG that sacrifices nothing it’s famous for, but rather embraces its flaws and only improves upon them.

Sound Design and Soundtrack – 9/10 – 9.5

Dark Souls 2 will immerse you in more ways than one, and that’s mainly because of it’s subtle sound design. Some say the best sound design is one that you don’t even notice; Dark Souls 2 is accomplished in this aspect. Swords will clash and spells will be cast, and they all sound great. The ambience while exploring each area really shines brightly as well. From creepy distant cackles to hollow and decrepit crypts, everything sounds as it should. Voice acting, a small part of all the Souls games, has been improved and expanded here and it is all delivered very well.
Dark Souls 2 features, hands down, the best score for any of the Souls games. Each boss fight has it’s own unique theme, memorable and musical enough to listen to outside the game. The tragic and intense orchestration and score really highlights each boss fight, making each an assault on the senses and emotions (and the emotional depth of the soundtrack itself is stunning). And don’t worry, the classic finale aria is beautiful and thoroughly composed with a purpose. Mr. Motoi Sakruaba, take a bow.

Lasting Appeal – 10

Unlike previous Souls games, once the credits roll there is still more to do. An altered new game plus allows people to continue to explore past the credits which is excellent for those who want to continue their adventure and clear optional areas. The game does have the classic new game plus, though, in which you do less damage while enemies do more. There are multiple new challenges that await players in new game plus, all of which require new tactics and skills. Aside from that, players can re-spec their characters to try different builds, join and work through multiple covenants, beat optional bosses and work your way through PvP. Dark Souls 2 offers a lot to do post-credits.

Final Score - 10/10

Dark Souls 2 took me just about 52 hours to complete (final time - 51:50) and I died 245 times. Oddly enough, though, every minute within this world was incredible. Drangleic is a gorgeous and oddly inviting world to explore, and your adventure will take you to the far corners of this hostile place, fighting off monsters and battling players along the way. It was an immensely satisfying and enjoyable game, and most of all it felt incredibly fair the entire way through. It is not only one of the best games I have ever played, but it gives reasons for video games to exist. Only in video games can you receive the same sense of exploration and discovery that Dark Souls 2 offers, and that’s why it’s such a grand masterpiece and a testament to video games as a medium.

(average = 9.8, rounding to 10 based on 20 point scale)


Dark Souls II (Black Armor Edition) - PlayStation 3 Black Armor Edition
Dark Souls II (Black Armor Edition) - PlayStation 3 Black Armor Edition
Offered by TECH61
Price: $35.98
123 used & new from $6.56

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Go Beyond Death (And Have Fun The Entire Way), March 24, 2014
Sequel to the widely acclaimed Dark Souls and finale to the "Souls" trilogy, Dark Souls 2 puts sword and shield (or sorcery, or hammer, or axe...) into your hands once again in hopes that you can triumph death and despair in this RPG by FromSoftware. Bigger, meaner, and more epic than either of its predecessors Dark Souls 2 represents a stunning achievement in design and execution. It welcomes new players with a friendlier tutorial and improved mechanics, but veterans of the Souls series need not be worried. Dark Souls 2 is brutal and challenging, testing you every step of the way with tough bosses and overwhelming odds. But Dark Souls 2 is also beautiful and stunning, featuring a world that is well worth exploring every nook and cranny, from dark and dead pits to harrowing civilizations long lost in time above the clouds. Dark Souls 2 is nothing short of a masterpiece, through and through.

Story, Presentation, and World – 10/10/10 – 10

The story of Dark Souls 2 is a fantastical tale of kingdoms lost in time, ruled by monsters and hostile forces ready to challenge the player. Similar to the previous games, Dark Souls 2 is a mildly minimalistic game in terms of delivering information; the player must explore and discover most of the world himself or herself. It’s an impressive story and world, with a staggering amount of thought behind its deep lore and characters. It’s a world filled with mystery, where the player’s imagination is key to understanding and connecting the loose ties between characters and their place in Drangleic. And I’m sure the ending will be something discussed by Souls fans for years to come.
Dark Souls 2 also features a significant upgrade in presentation values. Things are cleaner, nuanced elements in character building are more clear and menus are designed with a greater emphasis on ease of use. It’s all still very much like the previous games, just refined and improved to perfection.

Graphics and Art Direction – 9/10 – 9.5

The world of Drangleic is an epic land ripe for exploration. Half of this experience, though, is the staggeringly huge variety of places you’ll visit while on your quest. Decrepit crypts, castles in the sky, and even the garbage bin of Drangleic itself, the art direction for Dark Souls 2 continues the FromSoftware’s creative trend in developing horrendous creatures and placing them in a fascinating world. There are tons of unique bosses and enemies out for your hollow head, and each and every one is animated with a certain professionalism only a Japanese studio could produce. Along with these disturbing denizens of Drangleic, the places you’ll visit are equally impressive; not simply because of their design but also the character, increased color pallet and pure imagination every new area brings. To say that Dark Souls 2’s art direction is great would be a crime; it is simply stunning, and is one of a kind.
Graphically, Dark Souls 2 is superior to its predecessors in many ways. You’ll be happy to know that the game runs at a steady 30 FPS throughout (PS3) to 60 FPS (360 version is more consistently smoother, PS3 does hit 60 FPS in enclosed and small areas) and technically performs without a hitch. The big improvement here is the animations, which have benefited immensely from being motion captured. Elements of your character react with realism, and enemies feel lifelike and move like they should. The improved lighting engine creates a surprising sense of immersion (although is not the lighting engine we were advertised last year), and the improved physics engine is icing on the cake (character’s armor, such as loincloths and hoods flow in the wind and react realistically). Grainy textures and anti-aliasing problems do occur more often than I would’ve like to see (and are simply limitations of the Xbox 360 and PS3). The dumbed down lighting engine is a disappointment as well as the grainy textures and various visual hiccups, making a next gen version of Dark Souls 2 all the more tantalizing.

Gameplay and Design – 10/10 – 10

Where as Demon’s Souls introduced us to the impossibly challenging difficulty the series is known for and Dark Souls improved the online and flow of combat, Dark Souls 2 has perfected what the series is known for. Tight and claustrophobic combat headlines the game, while rewarding exploration, online PvP, summoning and aiding other players are all improved. Dark Souls 2 continues the trend of “endless tactics” with the numerous amount of weapons, which all feel distinct and fun to use. Everything has been improved, refined, and polished. The classic gameplay is still as challenging as ever, too. Fears of Dark Souls 2 dumbing down the difficulty and level of challenge have gone completely unwarranted. If anything, this may be the most challenging of all the Souls games, but also the most fair. Yes, you’ll die, get punished because of it, and lose your souls (which can be retrieved within the next life) and your human status, if you’re human. But Dark Souls 2, unlike its previous entries, clearly explains the effects of items, materials, and penalties. You die because you’re unfamiliar with a boss, area, or unique enemy tactic. You only come back stronger, more aware of the dangers you will face and more capable to tackle them quicker with more precision. Of the 245 times I died through my play-through, I rarely felt cheated. Only a few times (fighting optional bosses and online PvP) did I feel this way.
In terms of design, Dark Souls 2 is built with the player in mind. Beginning the adventure is tough, as is every video game. Healing items are rare in the beginning, and the Estus Flask only offers a swig at first. But as you explore this hostile and beautiful world, you’ll be rewarded with new and better armors, lifegems, status ailment healers, new weapons and sometimes the rare shards to improve the Estus Flask. Exploration doesn’t get more rewarding than this. Dark Souls 2 also offers a huge collection of memorable boss battles; everything from quick thinking to pure dodging skill is required throughout the many, many bosses that stand in your way. And you will take them all out, I believe in you! Dark Souls 2 is rewarding every step of the way; from it’s improved, tighter combat, intricate level design and unique character building this is an RPG that sacrifices nothing it’s famous for, but rather embraces its flaws and only improves upon them.

Sound Design and Soundtrack – 9/10 – 9.5

Dark Souls 2 will immerse you in more ways than one, and that’s mainly because of it’s subtle sound design. Some say the best sound design is one that you don’t even notice; Dark Souls 2 is accomplished in this aspect. Swords will clash and spells will be cast, and they all sound great. The ambience while exploring each area really shines brightly as well. From creepy distant cackles to hollow and decrepit crypts, everything sounds as it should. Voice acting, a small part of all the Souls games, has been improved and expanded here and it is all delivered very well.
Dark Souls 2 features, hands down, the best score for any of the Souls games. Each boss fight has it’s own unique theme, memorable and musical enough to listen to outside the game. The tragic and intense orchestration and score really highlights each boss fight, making each an assault on the senses and emotions (and the emotional depth of the soundtrack itself is stunning). And don’t worry, the classic finale aria is beautiful and thoroughly composed with a purpose. Mr. Motoi Sakruaba, take a bow.

Lasting Appeal – 10

Unlike previous Souls games, once the credits roll there is still more to do. An altered new game plus allows people to continue to explore past the credits which is excellent for those who want to continue their adventure and clear optional areas. The game does have the classic new game plus, though, in which you do less damage while enemies do more. There are multiple new challenges that await players in new game plus, all of which require new tactics and skills. Aside from that, players can re-spec their characters to try different builds, join and work through multiple covenants, beat optional bosses and work your way through PvP. Dark Souls 2 offers a lot to do post-credits.

Final Score - 10/10

Dark Souls 2 took me just about 52 hours to complete (final time - 51:50) and I died 245 times. Oddly enough, though, every minute within this world was incredible. Drangleic is a gorgeous and oddly inviting world to explore, and your adventure will take you to the far corners of this hostile place, fighting off monsters and battling players along the way. It was an immensely satisfying and enjoyable game, and most of all it felt incredibly fair the entire way through. It is not only one of the best games I have ever played, but it gives reasons for video games to exist. Only in video games can you receive the same sense of exploration and discovery that Dark Souls 2 offers, and that’s why it’s such a grand masterpiece and a testament to video games as a medium.

(average = 9.8, rounding to 10 based on 20 point scale)


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