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Review

Darksiders II Review (PS3, Xbox 360, PC)

Death comes to us all.

Darksiders II isn’t your traditional sequel; while it does share many characters and various gameplay elements with Vigil’s first Darksiders game, it is in fact a brand new adventure. Focused this time around on the Horseman Death, on a journey – set in the same timeframe as his brother War’s adventure in the first game – to destroy the mysterious Corruption, restore humankind and, ultimately, prove that War is innocent – that he wasn’t the cause of the Apocalypse.

Info:
  • Releases in the US today, on the 21st in EU.
  • Set in the same timeframe as the first game.
  • Follows the Horseman Death.
It’s more of a sidequel, then, running parallel to the first game throughout most of Death’s journey. Death himself is much more agile than his brother War, with acrobatic moves similar to those in Prince of Persia – wall runs, vaults, jumps and many other manoeuvres help Death traverse the brand new locations in the game.

Despite his agility, Death is just as powerful – perhaps even more so when levelled up – than his brother. Armed with dual scythes, Death’s acrobatics are reflected with his speedy combat, which is genuinely fun, due to the amount of smooth, flowing combos you’re able to pull off with ease. It’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 game’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. It’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 – the level design is never quite up to The Legend of Zelda’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, Death’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; there’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. It’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 – the game soon feels almost linear as you travel from point to point to progress further, using Death’s horse Despair as a means of travel.

Combat is the game’s saviour however, as new weapons and skills manage to keep it fresh throughout the entire adventure. Death’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.
Boss battles, too, are more hit than miss; there are some excellent bosses in Darksiders II. Though most of them feel rather straightforward, the game includes some unique, strategic battles and some awe-inspiring enemies and moments, with Death’s finishers in Reaper form being particular highlights.

Story-wise, Darksiders II doesn’t match up to its predecessor at all. The plot feels like it’s going nowhere at times and there’s nothing spectacular about it to keep your interest – we’ve seen it all before and it even manages to outstay its welcome, all the while feeling as though it’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. There’s a little recap when you load up the game, which is a nice touch, and the menu to game transition is wonderful.

The game’s sound design is on par, but it’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.

Pros:

  • Death is a great character to play as, with combat to die for.
  • It’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.
  • It’s a much grander adventure than the first game, with lots of additional things to do.

Cons:

  • Gameplay becomes tired and drawn out.
  • The story soon wears thin, it’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 Death’s entry in the Darksiders series certainly has better gameplay mechanics and a better style than War’s, the story fails to make a mark and the game, for as big as it is, can soon become monotonous at points. It’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 it’s definitely worth a look, just don’t expect to be blown away by level design or narrative.

Score: 7/10

16 Comments
  1. Forrest_01
    Member
    Since: Jun 2009

    “and a final boss waiting for Death in each one”

    How very poetic, considering in addition to your name, your aim will be to kill them. :)

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:04.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      I am so glad someone noticed that :)

      Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:11.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        Yeah, the review was rubbish, but that one sentence resonated with me! :P

        (I am of course kidding about the review). :)

        A few things actually sound quite similar to the first one which may not be such a bad thing for me, but it has helped me decide that i will be picking up Sleeping Dogs over this & picking this up later down the line, so thanks! :)

        Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:39.
  2. iAvernus
    Member
    Since: Nov 2009

    Will give this a buy next year.

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:10.
  3. blackredyellow
    Member
    Since: Mar 2009

    Looking forward to this one. Haven’t bought a new game for 3 months! This could be day one…

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:15.
  4. tonycawley
    Pint! Pint!
    Since: Feb 2009

    Sounds like it has the same drawbacks as the last one, ive only just finished it and it got very drawn out, tedious and monotonous towards the end. still was mostly fun though, this will be a bargain basement pick up from me or possibly a lovefilm.

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:16.
  5. LTG Davey
    andUandU
    Since: Aug 2008

    Great to hear its a good game but tbh even if you guys gave it a 3/10 I would have probably bought it. THQ need a lot of support right now.

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:45.
  6. hazelam
    Member
    Since: Feb 2009

    so sequels for Pestilence and Famine if this sells well then? ^_^

    the first game was lots of fun, not without it’s flaws, but they were far aoutwieghed by all the good points, like fast responsive combat that was pretty enjoyable, great voice work for the two leads, who you hear from most.
    and none of that needless QTE stuff, when you want to do a finisher you just go up to the enemy and press circle, or whatever button it was, and Death will do his stuff, and the enemies will die, no messing about pushing buttons to give the illusion of interaction at that point, just take a second, or more for the bosses, to sit back and watch death despatch his enemies is as gruesomely creative a away as possible.

    and it had what i call the classic nintendo gameplay, where there are areas going off from places you’ve already been too, but you can only get to them once you’ve unlocked a skill or item you acquire later in the game.

    that reminds me, i’ve got to give that Starfox Advewntures another play, see if i can ever get round to finishing it.

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 17:52.
    • Blair Inglis
      hisnameisblair
      Since: May 2009

      Fury and Strife in Darksiders world. Hopefully they do the next one co-op so it isn’t five games before the story can progress properly.

      Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 18:03.
      • Forrest_01
        Member
        Since: Jun 2009

        Not sure where, but i did hear a rumour that the 3rd installment (if they get there) is likely to be a combination of both stories – Whether this turns out to be a co-op affair or intertwining stories remains to be seen.

        Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 18:15.
      • hazelam
        Member
        Since: Feb 2009

        i know, it was only is was only like 3 with the Assassin’s Creed games and that was bad enough. ^_^

        Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 19:42.
  7. wonkey-willy
    Member
    Since: Jan 2010

    £19.99 within 2 weeks me thinks!
    grab it when it hits the magic figure!

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 18:03.
  8. Foxhound_Solid
    Is a smart cookie.
    Since: Dec 2009

    Felt the same about first game. Massive potential… bad execution.. under 20 and ill give it a whirl…

    Comment posted on 14/08/2012 at 21:09.
  9. XisTG
    Member
    Since: May 2010

    this review made me sad, i thought the it would be better than the first one story wise :/

    Comment posted on 15/08/2012 at 00:00.
    • LTG Davey
      andUandU
      Since: Aug 2008

      One man’s opinion and all that jazz. Granted TSA are the best for non-biased reviews but I’ve read several other reviews stating that this one is better in every possible way, including narrative and pacing :)

      Comment posted on 15/08/2012 at 09:18.
      • XisTG
        Member
        Since: May 2010

        I’ll check that then, thanks for the perspective ;)

        Comment posted on 15/08/2012 at 21:08.

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