Namco Bandai and From Software have been accused of misleading consumers with pre-release footage of Dark Souls 2, with higher quality assets and lighting appearing to have been used in earlier "gameplay" footage than those present in the final build.
The scenario raises alarming similarities to last year's Aliens: Colonial Marines controversy, with the earlier footage showcasing noticeably superior graphics to those found in the final console versions.
The differences lead to certain sequences, such as those highlighted in the video below, appearing radically different to their earlier showing. A variety of other comparisons have also been documented by industry forum NeoGAF.
The game is even alleged to have been downgraded since last year's PlayStation 3 beta.
Some fans, of course, argue that Dark Souls 2's impressive gameplay is more important than any "downgrade" in graphics. But while revealing the first gameplay footage with IGN in April 2013, From Software director Yui Tanimura explained the importance of Dark Souls 2's graphics and the emphasis the developer is placing on their implementation in the sequel.
"One of the first things we immediately tried to improve in terms of Dark Souls 2 was the graphic quality of the game," he said. "One thing we really focused on obviously for Dark Souls and more so in Dark Souls 2 is how much you can get deep into the game emotionally and physically, and one of the things we felt was critical to that was the graphical improvements for more reality, more realistic expressions of everything we want to show in the game."
What isn't yet clear is whether the pre-release footage is of the PC version, which is expected to offer "increased texture resolution and an enhanced frame rate option" when it goes on sale next month. That Namco hasn't highlighted further improvements for the PC release, however, such as the improved lighting found in earlier footage, could suggest not.
When contacted earlier today, Namco Bandai told VideoGamer.com that it could not provide comment as it was awaiting a response from From Software.
Dark Souls 2 releases on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 tomorrow, March 14, and on PC on April 25.
Source: neogaf.com, ign.com