Darksiders II

Posted On: 8/20/2012  Publisher: THQ

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Over the past 6 months THQ has stumbled through some tremulous times and there were times when it looks pretty grim for the video game publisher. But they made it through their NASDAQ crisis and here we are with their latest title to hit retail stores. I was a personal fan of the original Darksiders and loved the direction of the franchise so I definitely have been hoping and praying that Darksiders 2 would see the light of day. Well, its officially in the hands of gamers now and it will hopefully be a boost to the struggling company and get them rolling in the right direction. I for one think Darksiders 2 is an excellent choice for any gamer regardless of your genre preference.

This time around you play as Death who is the brother of the original Darksiders character, War. Both Death and War are riders of the famed Four Horseman but it appears Death has come to prove his brotherís innocence as War is accused of destroying humanity. At least thatís the general summary in simple terms. The bottom line is that Death needs to right some wrongs done to his brother. If you have not played the original Darksiders, I highly suggest you do to get some deep backstory for this game but itís not completely necessary. You can honestly jump into this game and it will get you up to speed on where we are at in the story.

The visuals in the game are outstanding with vast environments, interesting characters and enemies and creative hack and slash game play. The worlds you will enter into are vast and while the game is not completely seamless, youíll have very few loading times to talk about. Death and his companion horse are interesting characters in themselves and have a lot of great detail to them. They truly give off a sense of power that not even War seemed to have. There are some instances where the camera can get a little wonky depending on what you are doing. You have free roam with the camera using the right stick but there will be a few times when it is totally necessary to move the camera. It also spun pretty fast which might be a bad thing for those who get motion sickness. But over and above that, this game is a phenomenal piece of art and style.

 
 

Vigil took a bit of a different approach to the second game in the franchise making this one more of an RPG/Quest type of game than just a hack and slasher/platformer. Youíll level up which gains you skills that can be applied to a skill tree. Youíll also be able to pick up weapons and loot from fallen enemies and opened chests. I really like the looting system as the weapons or armor that lie on the ground will immediately notify you through an information box whether they are of stronger, lesser or equal value when it comes to damage and level. You can change weapons at your own leisure if you like or when picking up a new weapon you can immediately equip it by holding the Select button.

The skill tree I speak of will allow you to choose a path (Harbringer or Necromancer) and then make several more choices in the tree to level up Death as you see fit. Whether its increasing his brawn and force or giving his magical ability a boost is completely up to you. Youíll have a variety of things to choose from but youíll have to level up to have access to them. You can also train with certain characters along the way but that will require you to pay for their services which in turn gives you a new special ability. I really enjoy the XP system and it just made me want to continue seeking out he enemy to gain more and more power. From what I could see there was plenty of respawning of monsters when you would leave and then come back into an area. So that should bid well for those that like to grind.

The combat and gameplay is a great mixture of offense and defense. Youíll definitely want to be on the defensive when fighting against larger enemies such as the ones you will run across at the end of levels. Be sure to use your evade tactic, strike, then evade again to get the most damage inflicted without receiving much in return. At your disposal you will have health replenishments as well as magic replenishments that can be used by pressing on the directional pad. Many of Deathís skills are mapped to certain button presses which you have complete control of. The combat is fluid and quite fun with some very animated kill varieties as well as attacks. And the variety in enemies throughout the game is massive which was a welcome sign.

 
 

Think of Darksiders 2 as an epic story and one hell of a platformer while being open world and vast for you to explore and move along at your own pace. Youíll have to solve puzzles of sorts in order to move on within the levels which can entail climbing walls, vines, pillars or even swimming under water to get to unreachable places or so they seem unreachable. There will be instances where you will get stuck and really have to step back and take a look at the environment around you. Trust me, you are missing something. I did it many times. Look for scrapes on the walls as these will highlight paths that Death can take. Youíll also have a map at your disposal most of the time so be sure to make use of it. Not only does it give you an overview of the area but it also marks out where chests can be found.

What really sets Darksiders 2 apart from its predecessor is the sheer size of the game. The number of things there are for you to do in this game over and above the main story quest will simply stun you. There are plenty of side quests in each and every area you run across. Now some of the side quests are in fact optional but when playing a game like this you should take in everything you can to learn about not only your character but about what is truly going on with this story arc. And that story arc continues throughout and goes into so much detail which I hope is also setting up a third tale to come in the future.

For those of you looking for some multiplayer experience with the game I am sad to report to you that this is only a single player experience. Although, there are leaderboards for you to access and compare against your friends which will include stat based things like highest combo, most kills, etc. What would be cool is that if Vigil could add in some sort of arena where you could stand by a partner who would be fighting as War and take out waves of enemies. Eh, just a thought.

 
 

The soundtrack and voice acting in this game are superb and THQ pulled no stops when it came to delivering a solid storyline with an epic soundtrack playing in the back ground. Death can be subtly humorous at times with some of his smartass comments but overall portrays the tough role of being a Horeseman just as his brother did in the original. I played the game using the new 7.1 Surround Sound Warheads from Tritton and I have to say this game sounded absolutely amazing. Whats funny is that the Four Horseman really should not be ones that you should have sumpathy for if you actually know who they are, yet this game makes you care and feel for Death just as it did with War. Ironic.

My final sentiments on this game have to convey that this is a game that everyone should own and play. Sure it sounds like a cry for the gamer community to help THQ out of it financial mess, but the fact of the matter is that if you donít play this game you are missing out on something special. Many hours will be spent with this game when you play it and every minute will be well worth it. Vigil and THQ have put out a solid triple A title that can stand tall with the other big titles on the market. At the end of the year this game should most definitely get nominations for yearly awards. I thoroughly enjoyed my time with it and still have a long way to go before I actually finish the game completely. But from the hours I have played I can rest assuredly tell you this is a must have title. Check out Darksiders 2 if you have not already. Itís not a perfect game as youíll run across a minor glitch here or there but that is expected even in the most anticipated games of the year. Tell me Black Ops or Halo 4 wonít have some minor issues. As I mentioned ealier, do yourself a favor and check out the original Darksiders as well. You wonít be sorry.

 
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