Article written by Blair Inglis.
Published on 14/08/2012 at 05:00 PM.
Darksiders II isnâ€™t your traditional sequel; while it does share many characters and various gameplay elements with Vigilâ€™s first Darksiders game, it is in fact a brand new adventure. Focused this time around on the Horseman Death, on a journey â€“ set in the same timeframe as his brother Warâ€™s adventure in the first game â€“ to destroy the mysterious Corruption, restore humankind and, ultimately, prove that War is innocent â€“ that he wasnâ€™t the cause of the Apocalypse.
- Releases in the US today, on the 21st in EU.
- Set in the same timeframe as the first game.
- Follows the Horseman Death.
Despite his agility, Death is just as powerful â€“ perhaps even more so when levelled up â€“ than his brother. Armed with dual scythes, Deathâ€™s acrobatics are reflected with his speedy combat, which is genuinely fun, due to the amount of smooth, flowing combos youâ€™re able to pull off with ease. Itâ€™s one of the few games out there that manages to emulate the rewarding combat of God of War.
Not only can Death wield his scythes, he can pick up a range of secondary weapons; both heavy, slower weapons (maces, axes, hammers and such) and lighter, faster items which include gauntlets, claws and armblades – all can be found and used.
These secondary weapons, along with gilt (the gameâ€™s currency), potions and various pieces of clothing and armour (which bring cosmetic changes with them) will be dropped by certain enemies upon death or can otherwise be found in chests. Itâ€™s much more RPG-like in this regard, with the focus on loot making for a more rewarding experience; killing enemies to find a weapon with better attack power and an elemental bonus, or pair of boots with higher defence adds a great dynamic to the game.
In fact, the whole game is much more of a role-playing experience than its predecessor, with health points appearing above enemies as you land an attack; a deep levelling system with two new skill trees and many other stats; sidequests involving the collection of items or even whole new dungeons or bosses; unique Mass Effect-esque dialogue choices; and even rare, possessed weapons which you can upgrade by sacrificing other items to level up. These are all welcome additions which make Darksiders II feel like a much grander and an even more intricate game than the first instalment in the series.
Temples in Darksiders II remain very Zelda inspired, with keys, dungeon maps and a final boss waiting for Death in each one. Unfortunately, none of the temples stand out too much â€“ the level design is never quite up to The Legend of Zeldaâ€™s standards. There are some brilliant puzzles in these areas, involving riding Golems, controlling spirits and even the use of portals in later temples, however. Another great feature is Dust, Deathâ€™s crow, which will point Death in the right direction if he becomes lost; it can, at times, be inaccurate but provides a welcome help for some of the harder to navigate temples.
Level design, puzzles and general gameplay soon become tired however; thereâ€™s often too long a wait between the introductions of new mechanics, which can make the game drag and at times become quite dull, with the platforming becoming a chore and the temples being all too similar. Itâ€™s a very long game, which should be a good thing, but the poor pacing truly lets it down.
Outside of the temples lies a colossal world for Death to explore but this land feels extremely empty, whilst it’s littered with enemies here and there, there’s very little to do other than travel between temples â€“ the game soon feels almost linear as you travel from point to point to progress further, using Deathâ€™s horse Despair as a means of travel.
Combat is the gameâ€™s saviour however, as new weapons and skills manage to keep it fresh throughout the entire adventure. Deathâ€™s magical skills, which can be assigned to a button, allow for devastating moves, such as Death taking his ghastly Reaper form to wreak havoc or calling upon a murder of crows to aid him in battle. These are all useful for fighting against a tough boss or a horde of enemies, making for varied combat depending on how you choose to use them.
Boss battles in Darksiders II are frequent, but always manage to be fun.
Story-wise, Darksiders II doesnâ€™t match up to its predecessor at all. The plot feels like itâ€™s going nowhere at times and thereâ€™s nothing spectacular about it to keep your interest â€“ weâ€™ve seen it all before and it even manages to outstay its welcome, all the while feeling as though itâ€™s not actually going anywhere.
Darksiders II is presented beautifully, however; the art-style is refined and a much better attempt at a unique, cel-shaded style. Thereâ€™s a little recap when you load up the game, which is a nice touch, and the menu to game transition is wonderful.
The gameâ€™s sound design is on par, but itâ€™s nothing to get excited about; sounds can often glitch and the sound of enemies, attacks, or even the music will disappear completely, though despite this the game is otherwise relatively bug free.
- Death is a great character to play as, with combat to die for.
- Itâ€™s presented very well and the art style is wonderful.
- Boss battles are often very fun.
- Loot, such as clothing and weapons, adds another, brilliant dynamic to the game.
- Itâ€™s a much grander adventure than the first game, with lots of additional things to do.
- Gameplay becomes tired and drawn out.
- The story soon wears thin, itâ€™s really nothing special.
- For a game with such a large world, most of it feels wasted and empty.
- Poor pacing means that the game drags and becomes repetitious at points.
Whilst Deathâ€™s entry in the Darksiders series certainly has better gameplay mechanics and a better style than Warâ€™s, the story fails to make a mark and the game, for as big as it is, can soon become monotonous at points. Itâ€™s still a good game, though, with excellent RPG elements, flowing combat, some brilliant boss battles and lots to do post-completion. If you enjoyed the first game, then itâ€™s definitely worth a look, just donâ€™t expect to be blown away by level design or narrative.