The release of Darksiders II signals the end of the
mid-year gaming drought, and is the first of the big budget
games that come in a deluge in the last months of the year.
For: Xbox 360, PS3, PC, Wii U
Rating: R16 +
Darksiders II follows on from the conclusion of the
first game, where the Charred Council has condemned War for
bringing on the Apocalypse.
Playing as his brother, Death, you must redeem your brother
and prove his innocence. Playing the first game first is
obviously recommended from a story continuity perspective but
it is not essential.
The game has been called by many a cross between God of
War and Zelda, and that sums it up pretty well. It
has elements of combat from the acclaimed God of War
series (but nowhere near as in depth or as gory), and has the
dungeon exploration style of the Zelda series. The
result is a very addictive style of gameplay, where you find
yourself saying "Oh just one more game" and the next thing
you know, it's 3am.
The gameplay is really satisfying, and also strikes a balance
between being deep (keeping the hardcore gamers happy) and
simple enough so that newcomers can jump in with little
difficulty. On top of this, players have some choice as to
how they upgrade Death's abilities - through two separate
skill trees offering differing powers and perks to suit
differing styles of play.
Those to have played the cel-shaded Prince of Persia
game released not too long ago will be instantly familiar
with the platforming (wall running and post climbing), and
the games even appear to share the same enemy.
Newcomers may want to play the game on the easier difficulty
setting, as Darksiders II proves to be challenging on
the highest difficulty level. Much like Spec Ops The
Line, choosing the hardest difficulty right off the bat
proved to be a silly mistake, as some of the boss battles can
prove to be tricky.
There is, however, a sense of accomplishment when the
boss is finally beaten.
The first thing that will strike you in this game is the
quality of the cutscenes. They are truly amazing, certainly
some of the best out there on this generation of consoles.
However, as soon as you get into the game itself they prove
to be a little hit and miss.
Environments are vast and very pretty to look at on the most
part, but some of the character animation and detailing is
average, at best. Even on Death, the textures are often
blurred and not up to the same standard as the rest of the
game, which came as a surprise.
For the most part, the game is fantastic but there are a few
small things that irritate, such as the loading that seems to
take place when travelling through dungeons.
It doesn't occur all that often, but often enough that you
really begin to notice it, especially if you change your mind
and want to go back the way you came. On top of this, all the
secret chests and collectable items are marked on your
mini-map from the moment you enter the cave, which sort of
removes the challenge of finding the loot and doesn't
encourage players to really investigate areas fully.
These are only minor issues, and shouldn't have an impact on
the enjoyment of the game.
Darksiders II is perfect to sink some time into before
the big guns of gaming land in coming months.
- Simon Bishop