Posted on August 18, 2012 AT 08:23pm
The Horsemen are back! Well, one of them, at least, in Vigil’s latest fantasy epic, Darksiders 2. This game has been a long awaited journey back into the lore that began in the original Darksiders, which followed War, one of the Four Horsemen. This time, his brother Death enters the fray, on a journey to rescue his brother from the actions of the first game. While focused in the land of fantasy settings such as areas of Heaven, Hell, and the Land Of The Dead, the game itself is an action-RPG, chock full of third-person mayhem.
Death travels across the realms in order to rescue War and save the world from the spread of a mysterious Corruption that plagues the lands. In order to complete this task, Death must travel great distances, fight numerous giant, ugly foes, and complete a variety of fetch quests to get seemingly important things that don’t always do as much as their name would imply. The fantasy based story of lost souls, the Apocalypse, wars between Heaven, Hell, and all in between is solid, when it’s there. The only real plot development points come after the completion of missions, most of which sound something similar to “If you wish to complete your quest go here” or “get this” which pushes the story along, but it never develops in a truly engrossing way.
Most of the time spent in the game will be in dungeon after dungeon, solving various puzzles and beating enemies into very tiny pieces. The dungeon-crawling and traversal elements are pretty great, though, giving the game a varied feel, instead of constant walking and killing. Traversal is smooth, with the quick and agile Death running along walls, jumping onto and off of ledges, as well as pushing switches and the like. While not something completely unique, it’s shown in a unique way, with plenty of moving around and varied types of traversal that require timing and patience.
The combat system is likely the most impressive development in the game. While most of it is pushing a couple of buttons, there are an incredible amount of combos available to chain together, with every combo able to chain into another, making the multiplier almost endless, if there are enough enemies available. With various types of weapons as well, ranging from the standard scythes to massive hammers and maces to quick-hitting weapons such as bucklers and armblades, all with their own advances stats, such as elemental damage, critical hit percentage and more, combat fans should be very happy with the level of customization available. Players can also give their friends items through the Tome System, an online gifting system which allows players to send their friends weapons and armor that they no longer need. For a single-player experience, this helps keep the social aspect alive without forcing a multiplayer system into the game.
The skill tree for the game is also very well done. As Death increases in level, he is able to place skill points into one or both of two skill trees: the combat-heavy Harbinger class (which focuses on powerful combat maneuvers such as Teleport Slash and Harvest, which can clear a horde of enemies out of the way with ease) and the Assist-oriented Necromancer class (which uses arcane magic to summon the likes of Ghouls, crows, and ethereal skulls). Both have their uses (Ghouls are a must, however), and not having to choose between one or the other was a great choice.
While there isn’t as much travel in the open world as many would like, the open environments when traveling from one area to the other are gorgeous. The graphics are very good, with everything from environments to characters looking sharp and detailed, with a large range of different character models used for enemies. Death himself looks pretty awesome, as well, with the various armors changing quickly, and being maintained throughout the game, even through cutscenes. With four major zones to move through, this is a pretty large game, and the varied environments are represented well, with each one being tailored to their particular atmosphere (to compare, the first zone of the game is roughly the size of Darksiders in its entirety).
The lack of open environment travel could be due to the game’s fast travel system being so terrific, though. Fast travel can be used anywhere within the realm that the player has already gone, and players can even fast travel mid-dungeon, allowing them to go restock on supplies to defeat that tricky boss. Waypoints are left inside that dungeon, so after leaving, players can pick right back up where they left off, without having to navigate the dungeon over again, making this an incredibly useful system.
With such a large game, however, there are bound to be some flaws, and bugs are one of the main ones for this game. Various lock-ups happened during the course of the game, as well as some almost ridiculous bugs that were only temporary, but made it necessary to reboot the game (such as all sound but Death’s voice cutting out for no reason, conversations getting completely skipped due to sound issues, and enemies getting caught in between walls, making them unable to be killed). The dungeon crawling can get a bit repetitive after awhile, and the fetch quests can get a bit frustrating, but there is enough content to make that less of a big deal. The game also has an obsession with the number three, which isn’t all that frustrating, but it is kind of strange. Nearly every major thing runs on three of something else, which Death has to go acquire to make that first thing go.
SUMMARY: The follow-up to the underground hit Darksiders has finally arrived, and while its not perfect, this game is a lot of fun. Massive environments and a robust combat system, with major levels of customization and a long and rewarding campaign make this game one that fans shouldn’t miss out on. While there are a few things that aren’t great, there is a lot to love in this one. Vigil Games and publisher THQ have risen to new heights with Darksiders 2, and it shows with this terrific game.
- THE GOOD: High Level Of Customization, Great Combat System, Rewarding Campaign, Great Fast Travel System
- THE BAD: Dungeon Crawling Gets Tiresome
- THE UGLY: Various Bugs That Require Console Reset
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