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A Masterpiece . . . or Not . . .

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Darksiders 2 Review

Review By: Anthony Oury

 

-Special Game Notes-

·         - On the PS3 I crashed multiple times (5-8) and had to restart the system

·         + Length:  15-20 hours with side missions, more if you go for trophies or Crucible rounds

·         + Every time you start a game session the last story section is summarized

·         - There are too many loading/saving times that interrupt you when you go through doors

 

Intro and Story   7/10

            I’m going to assume you played Darksiders 1 during this review so I don’t have to tip toe around the lore of two games.  In short, Vigil Games screwed the story up. BAD!  The game starts out by letting us understand Death’s goal and you begin to learn a lot about the world.  You meet many helpful characters or some guys who will help you because you are useful to them.  You learn about the lore of the game’s early universe; created beings, different realms, and the way the afterlife works.  However, after the first two places the worlds go from gigantic to minuscule which at first seems to focus the story more, but the later characters become only cameos.  When I first heard about the worlds I heard that one world would be bigger than the one world in Darksiders, however, the developers better learn fast that the “smaller” world in the first game had a more focused story and was filled with FAR more interesting NPCs. 

In this game there are more enemy variety and you learn about Death’s, and the Nephilim’s, past.  The structure of the world and Death’s movements reminds me of the game Soul Reaver since that game had portals to other worlds and both main characters have the appearance and movements of a feral animal, or a creepy undead wraith.  The character development for Death isn’t too big but you understand his personal conflict well enough and the game almost seems similar to God of War 1, except without the major enemy that Kratos had in Ares, which is another problem with the game.  Although you find out soon enough who the main antagonist is, he isn’t as threatening as the Destroyer was in Darksiders 1 and didn’t have as interesting of a backstory as Kratos had with Ares.  That is why it seems as if there should have been a bigger build up to the end since the final battle, that you see coming halfway through the game, ends up being emotionless and quick. The game succeeds multiple times in making itself cinematic in the beginning of the game, but there are many points in the later parts of the game in which there should’ve been a more fleshed out narrative to make meeting certain characters more meaningful.  If you played Darksiders 1 then be aware that it FAR exceeds the Darksiders 2 story, even though Death’s past is explained more than War’s past in the first game.

 

Gameplay 9/10

            Most of the beginning of the game has you learning and getting used to the combinations of weapons you can use.  You will take much time leveling up, especially in the second world, but it gets you used to Death’s fighting style.  As much as you can play the game as a straight up hack-and-slash there will be plenty of enemies you must learn to dodge which is pretty much the opposite of War’s style.  Although you can make Death very resilient with certain abilities, you must learn to move quickly across the battlefield without running into the enemy’s strong attacks.  You can play in two ways: High damage close range scythe attacks or mid-long range magic type attacks.  You can customize Death in a multitude of ways thanks to the game’s RPG elements, unfortunately mastering this system can be too easy since I was able to finish the last 3 world bosses a LOT quicker than the second world boss.  While playing at Apocalyptic difficulty the game was exactly how I expected during the first two worlds, sometimes even approaching Dark Souls difficulty if you did some side missions too early.  However the game really rushed to the end during the last two worlds, which is a shame since they are the most interesting locations in the whole universe within the game.  One major issue I had was that the first world had 2 or 3 truly difficult optional bosses who were really satisfying to defeat, but these type of optional areas disappear completely at the second half of the game since the main story becomes the focus.

            The one thing that stays consistent is the feeling that the whole world is one big puzzle.  While walking around the world or dungeon you might see an item and while attaining it you realize it is part of a larger puzzle.  There are still “room puzzles”, but you will be surprised how many times you will take a branching path and simply end up finding a treasure chest or hidden item.  A major reason why some areas are so hidden are due to the surprising moments when you can use your platforming skills to go up a wall in a seemingly dead end path.  Many of the puzzles are truly hard and would easily give Portal 2 a run for its money and so in terms of puzzles the game far exceeded my expectations.

One part of the game that I wasn’t able to play, but heard plenty about was The Crucible. There is not much to say other than that it sends 100 waves of enemies at you and you beat them.  Beating many rounds can earn you items, and there is a mechanic to send your friends weapons, but unless you want to trophy hunt or practice some of your fighting prowess there really isn’t much reason to play it.

Graphics 9/10

            The graphics are in the style of a graphic novel style, like The Darkness.  The worlds are all different in their own unique ways, but it all changes when you go into the dungeons.  Unfortunately the central enemy for the game has contaminated each of these worlds making many enemies look pretty similar but with different colors and the dungeons look very similar since black “corruption” and bland stonework make up most of the dungeon backrounds in all of the worlds.  A major setback when compared to the first game is that your horse is never upgraded, and has no true use or story element unlike in Darksiders 1.  The character designs for the NPCs are very interesting and all of them stand out; unfortunately there aren’t many of them.

 

Sound 7/10

            The songs remind me of Assassins Creed and some Celtic nature melodies. Nothing mind blowing or even original, although Death’s main theme is decent enough.  The enemy noises and sword slashes are what you would expect. The one thing that saves the game is the ancient and grand sounding dialogue and the backstory for each world.

Final Thoughts

            It does not improve the Darksiders 1 narrative, however certain weapons and moves greatly improved the gameplay.  In my opinion the story is more important than gameplay and this game certainly shows that.  However if you can’t get enough of the gameplay then you will really like Apocalyptic difficulty and The Crucible, but if you are interested only in the story, then the puzzles will be enough challenge for you on the lower difficulties. 

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