Darksiders II Review
In Darksiders II, the next in line of the four horsemen to get the limelight is Death. Once that has been established, it is another round of puzzles, environmental puzzles, demon slaying, slaying bigger demons; like REALLY BIG ones, and then you have more puzzles. What does not give the game justice is a plot that doesn’t quite draw you into the game, but rather becomes a descriptive literature piece of a dark and grim world. You’ll get to be acquainted with the plight of the apocalyptic riders, but that is it. Thankfully, combat in this game is good enough to hold my attention.
The first Darksiders had a dark fantasy theme and this sequel adds a cold chill to emphasize the life of the Four Horsemen. Heavy winds, harsh blizzards, the sound of cold steel and wrangling chains will be the most of what you see as you progress through the game. If you like the color blue, this will be a field day for your eyes. To some extent, it does look a lot like World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King.
The one thing that seems to draw me into the game is the how the plot twists and turns the whole Christian apocalypse notion. Darksiders II reinvents these stories by adding additional characters to bring new perspective to biblical legends. If you’re a staunch bible reader, this might either amuse you, or make you disagree. For the sake of fun, I suggest to go with an open mind.
The game opens with teaching you the basics of combat and movement. This is your usual hack and slash control scheme with a dodge button. What irks me is the fact that you cannot block with those huge blades that Death carries. I suppose he has no reason to block since he moves really fast. To navigate through the world, Death is able to run along walls and jump across beams with all the physical finesse that he possesses. When you work on those environmental puzzles, these wall-running and climbing skills will come in very handy, so remember what you can or cannot do. Unlike War, Death cannot fly. REMEMBER THAT.
In terms of cosmetics, any armour you pick up and equip in the game will be visible on your character. You begin with what seems like loincloth and eventually end up with impressive looking armour plates - bulging shoulder pads and massive thigh guards. Equipment that you do not put on can be sold to a merchant or sacrificed to level up rare weapons.
This is something new to Darksiders II. Apart from just being an action/adventure/puzzle game, the loot you pick up has some role-playing elements to it. You can compare the various stats to see what will benefit you and even pick specific stats, be it critical-hit chance or even life steal, to match whatever play-style you prefer.
In one way, it has a mix of RPG games, action-adventure games and something like God of War. Through history, such games that have attempted to mix in multiple genres have had an issue of finding its own identity. In the case of Darksiders II, it feels like that at times but this isn’t a bad thing in this case. Mainly because the mechanics are simple and there is not a lot that you need to learn about building your character; every stat and number you need to know and compare are laid out nicely.
Dungeons in the game have lots of hidden nooks and crannies but you need to explore them if you want the most out of Death. Pages of the Dead and other bonuses will allow you to purchase new gear, better abilities and much needed potions for health and energy.
Also, the puzzles in each dungeon you face will keep you busy. From simple requirements like scaling walls, throwing bombs and pulling levers, they start to progress into grappling from phantom hooks, doing precision jumps, finding points on the wall to leap across to so you can extend your wall runs and other sorts that require agile thumbs. Then it goes on to splitting yourself into three just to open a silly door and such. Clever puzzles, but clearly, brain-teasing at some point. The one thing to take from this is, the puzzles are now cleverly crafted and isn’t just draggy like the first Darksiders.
Combat skills in Darksiders 2 are divided into two trees. One gives you better offensive moves like spinning attacks and massive swings, while the other concentrates on summoning creatures to assist you in battle. These creatures include ghouls and a flock of murderous crows. Action in the game is fluid and the blood you see all over the screen is always satisfying. The only issue here is the weird camera angle that likes to jump around as Death goes about killing his foes. Sometimes you might be blind-sided just because the camera is facing a pillar with Death behind it, or a mob.
At Death’s disposal is a pair of huge blades, a giant axe or hammer for heavy attacks, a grapple and a gun. Once you’ve mastered each of their strengths and weaknesses you’ll find that mixing and matching these attacks will give you the best advantage against your enemies and the flashiest ones too.
So how does the game perform on the PC? I will have to tell you that this is a direct port from the console. Do not expect your graphic options to have anti-aliasing or even vertical sync. All you have is a change in resolution and before THQ pushed out a patch, the graphics were clearly not optimised for the PC. The game runs a lot smoother now, with that patch, but not without some graphical bugs. Also, get a PC gamepad controller. The PC controls on this game gets extremely odd and there were times where it felt that the keyboard scheme were akin to playing on an emulator. I gave up 15-minutes into the game and pulled out my Razer Onza.
Darksiders II is a good game in its own right. Knowing that the Four Horsemen is only into its second candidate, you can take the story of Death as the bridging episode to the next saga. In between now and the next one, there is a lot of blood and slashing to be done. Oh, and puzzles to solve too.
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