“Bold” and “Dynamic” are often buzzwords thrown around by marketing people in order to hype up a game or movie. In the case of Darksiders II by THQ those two adjectives are grossly inadequate to describe the epic nature of the game. For those who are unfamiliar with the title, players take on the role of Death, the most feared of the legendary Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as you try to redeem your brother War who was framed for the apocalypsenthat was chronicled in Darksiders.
At first glance, the game plays as a hack-and-slash game where players must control Death through various landscapes as he wages battle on all manner of enemies. This includes some surprisingly crafty and vicious individuals who take many hits to bring down, including some combo moves which are an absolute joy to deploy. Early on, I became fond of calling up my large (and I do mean large) hammer to lay out the bad guys before moving to my two bladed weapons to finish the job quickly.
Of course, there are also the bosses to contend with, and it is a very good thing that Death is as nimble as he is, as Death dying is a rather ironic occurrence. Combat is free-flowing and lively as players can select different weapons from their inventory such as scythes, giant hammers, and so on, and use them to smash, chop, and pulverize enemies into oblivion, with elements that reminded me of a RPG. I was able to gain loot and use this to customize
and upgrade my weapons.
Navigation was easy as not only did I have a map, but I also had an avian companion who would help with the pathfinding. Death is a very agile individual, allowing me to climb vast walls, leap across gaps using the side walls for momentum, and cling to and leap from all manner of objects. I did like the ability to do a strategic roll and then unleash into a full-out assault on anything that stood in my way and being able to hang from the ceiling in certain areas was a real plus for me. I also found the control system to be very good as far too often games of this type turn into a button mashing marathon. Darksiders II requires players to use tact, stealth, and strategy as well as a fair bit of patience.
I am not one who is big on games with timed or precision jumps. As such, early in the game I was a bit frustrated as I learned the camera angles and movements needed to move about the very large and impressive open-world environments of the game. With a bit of practice, I was able to have it down in no time, and much like combat, it soon became second nature to me as I was able to react without having to think too much about which combinations of controls to hit. A simple move of a control stick, and a press of a button or trigger was often all that was required of me.
The environments were very impressive and I especially liked fighting in the ice and snow as it was a refreshing change from the stale dungeon environments that have become all to commonplace in the genre. Death also has a mount which allows him to cover vast distances astride his supernatural horse. I really enjoyed the graphical splendor and art of the game as we rode along the landscape, and would briefly lament the moments when I dismounted to explore a locale, but made sure to make any that I encountered pay for disturbing my ride.
All of this would be plenty to justify the purchase of the game, but there is also some great online content such as The Crucible where players will enter a mystical arena to allow players to test their skills against progressively harder enemies. There is some great loot that can be obtained for those who prove worthy. There are 100 levels to the mode and each one is more challenging than the last. Should a player die before reaching an award level, then they lose all of their progress and must start over.
Darksiders II also features an in-game e-mail system known as “The Tomes” where players can easily message and trade items with one another. There is also a leader board where players can track their progress in several statistical categories against players the world over. Darksiders II is a visually sharp action game that is amazing fun to play. From the ground up, it is a top-notch gaming experience that grabs you and pulls you in.