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Review - Darksiders II (PS3)

The original Darksiders was highly criticized for it's "lack of originality", and now with a sequel among us, people are wondering if Darksiders 2 will creating something new, or provide much of the same. Darksiders 2 makes several improvements over Darksiders 1, but fails when it comes to diversity. 

PRESENTATION

Up front, Darksiders II's graphics wont blow you away. in fact, it almost looks close to previous gen graphics. however, there are still moments that inspire a bit of awe, with bright lush colors. combat is probably the best looking. when you lock on to an enemy the camera zooms and focuses on it, providing quite an awesome looking combat view. flashing numbers representing damage counts and experience gain, along with the enemy flashing yellow when it is hit, are small details that you'll either love, hate, or completely ignore. i for one enjoyed it because of the chaoticness of everything when i began to string combos.

Darksiders II visit a number of different locations, each drastically different from the other. these worlds look fantastic, but the dungeons you spend most of your time in will tend to look and feel the same. it's a good thing that the dungeons layouts are actually well made.

The character models look pretty good, Darksiders 2 has a much larger cast than the original Darksiders did, and each has their own details. voice acting isn't special, but Death's character at least sounds a bit less cheesy than the gruff sounding War. you can actually depict some emotion this time!...sometimes.

unfortunately, a couple larger flaws will get in the way. for one, i did come across a number of glitches. though none of them were threatening to my gamesave, they caused me to fall to my death, and in some larger instances, reset the game. another large flaw is more of an annoyance. seemingly random loading times will constantly stop play for a few seconds, and this came be rather irritating, and takes a lot of the gaming experience out of it.

STORY

As in Darksiders, the story was a bit hard to follow. it seemed really simple until the end where they threw a ton of information and plot twist at you and you had to take it all in to understand it (i had to google it just to verify that what i got out of it was actually what was going on. shh!). but it was a good twist.That's not the case this time around. 

I'm quite thankful for the  less complicated story this time, but this story makes me wish it was a little more complicated. It's very anticlimactic, with about zero plot twist, and quite honestly, it's just boring. essentially you have to get to point A. when you get to point A, it turns out you have to get to point B. but in order to find out where point B is, you have to do a few errands for this guy, only to discover that in order to get to point B, you have to first stop at points C and D, which each have their own detours.

The scenes themselves are ripped from the typical action adventure, "let's make this fight epic" kind of thing. the lines come off kind of cheesy, and Death is always  certain to finish a fight in some "epic" way with his reaper form. 

Darksiders II's story takes place right after the first level of Darksiders 1 while War is currently imprisoned. The story does ties things all together, but the result of Death's mission shows no difference in the events of Darksiders 1, nor of what's to come, and it really feels like all that Death did had no impact. not to mention the very anticlimactic ending which leaves a very unsatisfied taste in your mouth. 

Still, the ending seems to promise more Darksiders to come, and this i am still interested in, because i think combined, this chain of games can equal up to something. but for Darksiders II, the story is definitely it's biggest flaw.

GAMEPLAY 

This is where the most improvement lies. RPG elements such as leveling with skill points and skill trees, loot in the form of weapons and armor, and a number of sidequest, are new additions to gameplay that initially give out potential. the game still mainly consist of hack-and-slash, light platforming, and small puzzles, but this element adds a little more to the series.

Unfortunately, none of these RPG elements are very well developed. Loot is great, but you'll find the same weapons and armor throughout the entire game just with different stats and a slightly altered look. The skill trees are small, and leveling itself doesn't feel very rewarding. Side missions are there, but there is really little incentive to do them, and they often require you to backtrack to places you've already visited. 

A big problem with this is that the game literally has you going from dungeon to dungeon with little else. almost all quest are in dungeons, and it becomes tiresome.

The puzzles in the game aren't too challenging, but some will require you to scratch your chin for a second, and it's a nice change of pace from the high paced combat.

speaking of, combat is a lot of fun. rather than blocking, you dodge. it provides a new fast paced, yet methodical form of combat, that is actually quite fun. 

Platforming, the last big part of gameplay, is very simple. there's always a straightforward path for you to traverse. the same platforming objects will always be oh so conviniently present, that platforming wont ever really provide a challenge.

There was a unique style of gameplay closer to the end that i absolutely hated. i wont spoil anything, but i hated that level. 

Ending on a high note, if there is one thing that makes Darksiders II shine is its boss fights. these are really awesome. they work and look great, and though some may be easy, boss battles were something i always looked forward to. 

RECAP

I honestly like Darksiders, and i was hoping to write up a good review for it, but when i laid out my full experience, i had to face the facts that it is what it is. Darksiders II is a lengthy game, at least for today's standards. I did few sidequest and clocked in around 20 hours. i had a lot at first, but about halfway through, i was doing the same thing, crawling through yet another dungeon, with enemies and puzzles ending in a boss.  what could've been a great experience and a major comeback for Darksiders, is heavily brought down by repetitive gameplay and a very unsatisfying story.

I don't think i've given up on Darksiders just yet, as i'm still interested as to how things will all come together in the end. so which horsemen comes next? 

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