|Game Name:||Darksiders II|
|Platforms:||Playstation 3 (reviewed), Xbox 360, PC|
|Release Date:||August 14, 2012|
|Big Ups:||Beautiful character designs, intriguing gameplay, fun loot system|
|Big Downs:||Daunting dungeons, too long for its own good, tries too hard to be "over the top"|
I have a fascination with mythology, my friends. Yes, even Jewish mythology. Darksiders is to the Jewish as God of War is to the Greeks. It takes a mundane belief system and ramps it up with HIGH OCTANE PULSE POUNDING BRO-ACTION! And boy does Darksiders 2 have bro-action. No complaint here.
The game starts off with Death scaling some seemingly epic mountaintop stronghold which houses the keeper of secrets, the Crowfather, to seek a way to absolve the crimes placed upon his brother who was the main character of the first game, War. As the narrator says so himself, Death will do anything to save his bro. So after reaching the Crowfather and hearing a cryptic dialogue, Death is thrust into a crime absolving adventure! Now for those of you who remember back before the first Darksiders came out, we were greeted with many screenshots of War that bombarded us with reminders of Prince Arthas from the Warcraft series. Well furthering this, Darksiders 2 feels like it was ripped right out of the World of Warcraft experience. Though not so explicitly labeled as such, you have your undead, dwarves, high elves, and draenai in settings that match similar locales to the infamous MMO. And for those who refuse to see the game from my perspective, can you at least acknowledge the similar character design proportions which are comprised of small heads and hulking, colorful bodies?
Impressively, Darksiders 2 takes the Legend of Zelda formula and makes it its own. From the very first world, the player is placed in a hub where they are led to dungeon after dungeon that slowly pieces together some part to completing a bigger goal. Interesting, well-designed characters dot these vast landscapes, however, a lot of them are lost to the daunting dungeons and repetitive gameplay. At first, it all seems great. But by the end, even the final boss fight underwhelms the simplest of audiences and passes them by before they get a chance to really appreciate it. Instead, the real meat of the game comes from its loot system. It seems that THQ put effort into rewarding the player for their daunting travels. Different pieces of gear accommodate for different playstyles, permitting each person to focus on different aspects of gameplay. Being a third-person action game, players will approach Darksiders 2 like God of War or Devil May Cry and as such this pushes most players towards focusing heavily on physical strength and defense. However, for players who feel inclined to utilize the abilities made available by the game’s leveling skill tree, they can gear Death to focus on maintaining the energy to use them. Or for the collecting bugs in the group, you can wear items that increase the potential discovery of better/rarer gear.
The game is disappointingly underwhelming and sadly becomes its biggest downfall. Unlike Devil May Cry or God of War, the game fails to fully include the player. The first boss fight hints at using QTEs but ends up only teasing the player since it occurs a handful of times after that. I found myself more annoyed watching Death slaughter a boss in some complex and lengthy action cutscene after I had exploited my many years of gaming experience to topple this boss only to have Death reap their soul without my guidance. Why couldn’t THQ throw in a couple more QTE’s for my sake? Why couldn’t they make the cutscenes more clear what the hell was happening? Ultimately, the entire experience feels like Todd McFarlane’s childhood wet dream and I really wish I wasn’t a part of it. What we have here is a failure of finding that fine line between gameplay and cinematics. At least in Devil May Cry, Dante doesn’t always take control and land the killing blow for you.
It hurts. It always hurts to play a game that has so much potential but falls miserably short. The abilities you unlock as your scour dungeons to solve their Zelda-esque puzzles are great. You end up creating portals and splitting Death into two entities in order to solve puzzles requiring each half. Sadly, the game tries too hard at being epic instead of being what it is, a dungeon crawling third-person action game and fails to fully utilize these features. Granted that the production values are high so you won’t be entirely disappointed, I found myself looking forward to the next world or character, but they are so few that they do not add up to the playtime needed to complete the game. For this, I cannot recommend the game.