Darksiders: Wrath of War Review
developer: Vigil Games
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jan 05, 10 (released)
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Whether you're an experienced gamer or a beginner, there are always certain things you expect from games. Of course, it's impossible to make everyone happy. For action games many elements have become a necessity. Therein lies the debatable aspect of Vigil Games' Darksiders: Wrath of War. They drew inspiration from well-established game franchises and incorporated that into their latest action adventure. Well, let's see how that turned out.
Darksiders places you into the body and armor of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. When the Final War (i.e. the Apocalypse) occurs, the Horsemen would march forth to purge Earth, thus bringing the Kingdoms of Heaven and Hell into a new era. The Final War between Man, Heaven and Hell was supposed to happen once humanity was ready. As the Apocalypse commences, War begins to realize that things may have started to unfold too soon. Losing most of his powers, War is caught in a ferocious battle between angels and demons. Immediately upon his arrival to the Kingdom of Man, War faces the Destroyer's armies as well as one of the Destroyer's Chosen, Straga. Stripped of his former strength, War is defeated by Straga and sent back to face The Charred Council. Blamed for igniting the Apocalypse prematurely, War is sentenced to death. Having asked the Council to be sent back to Earth, War is given one last opportunity to redeem himself and find those responsible for triggering the Final Battle. The Council also shackles War to The Watcher, who has the ability to restrain, even kill, War should he stray from the task.
In the face of all of the tacky story moments, the setting for Darksiders proved to be a rather immersive one. The main character is cruel, often immoral and brutal in carrying out most of his missions. At the same time, War is fearsome and honorable warrior, striving to punish those who were accountable for Earth's demise. As far as storylines go, you can't get more basic than that. The good news is that the narrative manages to grab your attention, mostly due to a well-structured plot and decent dialogue. Excellent voice acting helps shape the story, giving the entire game a movie-like quality. Helming the cast for Darksiders is none other than Mark Hamil, who once again lent his Joker-ish, squeaky voice to The Watcher.
Bad breath, eh? You outta watch them spicy Thai noodles.
All of this looks very, very familiar.
Okay, at this point, things looked good. Despite my initial doubt, I was actually lured into the setting and found most of the characters likeable. Pondering what might happen to War in his future endeavors became my main interest. In other words, I was hooked.
Oh and they're calling it a God of War rip-off and practically a rip off of everything else. The thing is, you really won't be bothered by that. At least not so much that you won't be able to enjoy the game. Although Vigil Games uses well-known gameplay concepts way too often, there's no denying the fact that most gamers will like it. The combat is fluent and easy-to-learn. Come to think of it, you won't have much to learn here, since you've probably already played it (mechanics wise, there's nothing you haven't seen before). You have a variety of weapons, combos, upgrades, special attacks, etc. The game gets bloody often enough, as War slices his way through enemies, pulling of a variety of violent finishing moves.
Boss fights look great and all it takes to beat them is to figure out their weaknesses, which takes maybe one or two tries. After that, all you need to do is aim for the right weak spots and avoid getting bludgeoned, smashed, burnt, stomped, smacked, run-over or titty-slapped (okay, maybe not titty-slapped, but it was worth mentioning... actually in one case it's almost true, since there is a boss with titties in the game - rock-solid they are).
Again, all its attempts to copy-paste other people's ideas isn't as annoying as you'd expect. Everything in Darksiders has been done with care. Puzzles aren't too difficult, but ultimately challenging and fun, the levels aren't too huge or too confined, the action is well-balanced and never too tiring (like, say in Ninja Gaiden... not saying that's a bad thing though) and overall what you get here is an ultimately satisfying game you'll most likely play all the way through. Don't march into the fray expecting anything particularly original though.
8.6 Very Good
Darksiders hinges upon every game you've ever played in your life, but it does so with dignity and style, with splendid character animation, great artwork, top-notch music, sounds and voiceovers, topping it all off with challenging gameplay... In spite of countless clichés, it still tells a good story;
Players won't feel the need to make use of all the weapons and abilities at War's disposal, It sponges off of just about every gameplay concept ever designed, frequent backtracking makes the experience longer than necessary.