Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Review: Darksiders II (360)


Two years following a successful launch of a new intellectual property, Darksiders II has galloped full-steed ahead, this time with the star horseman being Death. Taking place parallel to the events of the first game, Darksiders II retains the same high level of quality that the original did. Amazing graphics align perfectly with great, huge environments with expansive dungeons to crawl, plenty of slashing, hacking and looting a la the God of War franchise with a RPG character-building aspect, and 25-40 hours of fantastic action gameplay.

Death's journey to free his brother War from a conspiracy of the Charred Council to lay blame for the crimes of the Four Horsemen's slaughter of the Nephilim, the fusion of angels and demons that are the brethren of the horsemen, is the storyline of Darksiders II. It was the Charred Council that offered the horsemen incredible power to eliminate their fellow Nephilim, but the Horsemen are being blamed for the entire affair. Along the way, Death encounters the Corruption that is threatening to destroy all. Corruption is revenge from the  first Nephilim, Absalom, for his demise at the hands of the Horsemen. It's a complex tale throughout Darksiders II, but that complexity never gets too convoluted.

Gamers will be traveling to all kinds of lands in the adventure quest of Darksiders II, with the goal to reach the game's many dungeons filled with puzzles, none very complex, but just challenging enough. To get there, Death has two companions: his horse Despair, which gets Death to his intended locale a lot faster, and the raven Dusk, who is supposed to guide gamers along the right path of the selected objective off of Death's shoulder perch, but he acts too bird-brained and almost always isn't very much of a useful guide.

Gameplay is immediately recognizable as similar in many ways to the God of War franchise. However, there is more to playing Darksiders II than just mindlessly pummelling enemy after enemy (including massive bosses of varying degrees of difficulty to defeat) with a hard-hitting weapon. The game has a RPG-style upgrading of weapons, armor and special attacks, including a skill point tree. There is tons of loot collecting, too, with piles of gold and weapons being the reward for discovering and opening chests throughout the realms Death will be visiting.

Controls are very good, considering all the different moves. In addition to controlling weapons and magic, there is the need for running along walls (like the Prince of Persia games) and warping through portals. The only instance where the controls aren't entirely stellar are during timed events, where Death will be climbing and jumping under the constraints of impending doom and destruction. They can be frustrating if you don't have near-perfect timing while moving, because just one small ill-timed mistake can be enough to fail.

There is downloadable content planned for Darksiders II, and the first DLC, Argul's Tomb, is cool – or rather icy-cold, as the Tomb is located in a frosty, frigid environ, with a couple of new dungeons to crawl and a humongous ice dragon to defeat. Despite its brevity (about two hours to complete), for the cost (around $7US) it is well worth the expense.

Death becomes himself in Darksiders II – the perfect apocalyptic death dealer, bringing the final death knell for whom the bell tolls. And there's going to be plenty of tolling bells throughout this long-lasting and rewarding adventure. Darksiders II is full of enormous environments and dungeons to traverse to and explore, even more fantastical enemies and large-scale bosses to battle, and plenty of challenging hacking, slashing and loot collecting.


The Good:
- Great action-oriented hack & slash looter reminiscent of the stellar God of War franchise with a huge amount of dungeon-crawling gameplay hours
- RPG elements give gamers a character-building gameplay facet, increasing the strength of weapons, magic and armor

The Bad:
- Timed events, where Death will be climbing and jumping under the constraints of impending doom and destruction, can be frustrating if you don't have near-perfect timing while moving, because just one small ill-timed mistake can be enough to fail
- Dusk, your raven companion and guide is a bit of a bird brain

Score: 9.0 / 10

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