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Darksiders 2 Review

publisher: THQ
developer: Vigil Games
genre: Action Adventure

ESRB rating: M

release date: Aug 14, 12
» All About Darksiders 2 on ActionTrip

Darsksiders, yes, well we all know that Vigil Games blatantly borrowed elements and features from other games and that was one of the main gripes people had with the original. However, we did not regard this as a downside because the folks at Vigil clearly poured their hearts into the project, creating a deep universe with compelling characters and a lot of beautifully designed locations to explore. Their motto was probably: "we steal, but we do it with style." So, who the hell cares, when it's essentially a good game? Darksiders 2 continues much in the same spirit as its predecessor, which means you're looking at a game that effectively combines Prince of Persia platforming and Devil May Cry combat. Of course, comparison with the God of War series is unavoidable, but again, this is something that hasn't bothered us much, seeing as the game still manages to retain its own atmosphere and that's very much the case with Darksiders 2.

This story follows Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse - the last of the nephilim (a crossbreed between angles and demons meant to maintain the balance of the universe). Events unfold during the 100-year imprisonment of War, which was followed by the premature End War. When War got charged for his crimes, his brothers learned what had become of him. Once he discovered this, Death went into a rage, knowing full well that War, the most honorable of the Four, would never trigger the Apocalypse before it was meant to begin. Ignoring the Councils will, Death sets out on a quest to discover the truth and to redeem his brother by resurrecting humanity. Mind you, although the Four Horsemen are now riding in all their might, they still appear like pawns and are at the mercy of more powerful forces that threaten to upset the balance of the universe.

The game's fantasy-style presentation does have an appeal of its own and both games (Darksiders: Wrath of War and Darksiders 2) seem to use their source material pretty well. The dialogue is very well written and each character you meet is more fascinating than the last. The story itself though, appears to leave a lot of things unexplained. While a narrative of this type should definitely retain at least some mystery, there's still a lot we would've loved to learn about the world and characters that are essential to the story arch - not the least of which is War, who, for some reason, is almost omitted throughout the entire sequel (apart from Death mentioning him once or twice). It just seems like there was a very weak correlation between the original and this game. Sure, characters like Samael (the arch villain from the original) and a few others provide some link between the two separate stories, but I still felt like I needed more background about the Four Horsemen. Then again, I suppose that's something reserved for future installments.

As Death summons his mighty steed, Despair, you immediately get goose bumps, watching the deadliest and most devastating of all Four Horsemen galloping towards his destiny. Each scene is enriched by a captivating soundtrack. The chilling melodies accompany Death as he strides through the Kingdom of the Dead and a range of beautiful harmonious tunes swell in the backdrop when you ride through the plains and canyons of the Forge Lands. The atmosphere is just brilliant. Vigil's delicate knack for setting the perfect tone for an adventure with Death as the central character comes across as one of the main qualities of Darksiders 2.

As far as the gameplay goes, this game offers a relatively similar approach to both action and puzzle-solving, with a few alterations to make things slightly different from the original. Your first impression is bound to be that you're going to be in for a similar ride. For the most part this is true. Death exhibits a selection of moves that are almost the same as those pulled off by War. There are some differences, one of which is the exclusion of the block button and while I admit that it annoyed me at first, I've come to realize that it's not a bad way of keeping things focused on a particular type of combat - one that involves dodging and striking in an appropriate fashion (as opposed to a more defensive stance). Instead of having to dish out various button-mashing combos, players need to combine a number of specific moves to take out enemies. If you don't do this appropriately, chances are Death will be in for one short adventure. Okay, in practice, this doesn't always work the way it should. And I fear most people will still end up button-mashing their way through every fight. But even the thickest player should understand how the combat works very quickly. So, yeah, it's not just about pressing the bloody 'X' button until your thumb goes purple.

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8.5   Very Good

Stunning art direction helps set the right mood for a game where Death takes center stage, enough gameplay variety for all gamers, Jasper Kyd easily delivers one of the best video game soundtracks we've been privileged to in a while;

In terms of gameplay and story-telling there are no surprises whatsoever, a few weird gameplay changes might confuse some players, such as having a no block button, annoying performance issues, some may even break the game.


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