Game Review: Darksiders II

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There are two types of game sequels. One is the type where the game is improved in every aspect, and the other is the search for more money.  In the case of Darksiders II, within five minutes of playing the game, you can feel the improved controls, the epic feel of the music, and even the quality of the story.

darksiders-2a

Genre

Action / Adventure

Story

For those of you who read through my review of the original Darksiders, you know that the apocalypse came early, and War, horseman of the apocalypse, has been framed for it. Darksiders II has decided to, oh, explain anything about the strange little mythology the writers have developed.

In this version, the Horsemen of the Apocalypse are the last of the nephilim, since “the Four” turned on their fellow nephilim and wiped them out in order to keep them from causing havoc. Don’t worry if you’re confused, it’s going to get stranger.

When the game opens, War has been framed for the apocalypse, and Death is going to “clear” War by restoring humanity. How is Death going to do that? Great question, but he’s going to try to find out.

Gameplay/Mechanics

Darksiders II has a standard hack-and-slash mechanics vaguely reminiscent of Devil May Cry, but Death’s Scythes and attacks are customizable, making it somewhat interesting. Over the course of the game, Death also has the option to ride his horse Despair (yes, it is a pale horse), fire guns on horseback like an old west chase scene (it looks goofy, but works anyway), and swim like a fish.

Also, unlike the last game, Death is allowed to interact with other characters, have conversations, and basically treat it like a role-playing game. Some of the puzzle-solving sections are back, like from the first game, though the attempts to mimic platforming puzzles like Prince of Persia still come off as easy. There is no need for the players to have reflexes, precision, and only the barest of timing is required.

Graphics/Music

The graphics for the game are solid, and even artistic at times. Unlike War, who was so covered in armor I wondered if he was a robot, Death looks and moves like a living breathing organism.

The music is very well done, appropriate to the game, though I’m not sure I’d buy the soundtrack.

Morals/Appropriateness

It’s your standard fantasy fare. However, the theology/mythology of it is just so…

Problems/Ending Comments

While this game is superior to the original Darksiders, there are several major issues with it. The mythology, for one, is off-putting and incomplete. The story is convoluted, and while that isn’t a problem with most video games, this one also comes with the sin of sequel baiting — they don’t really end the story, but all but tell you “there’s more here, and here’s a teaser for it.”  An example would be the end of The Empire Strikes Back.  I’ll recommend playing this over the original, but for gameplay purposes only.  The ending undercut all of my original excitement over the sequel. If you must play a Darksiders game, play this one. Otherwise, I’d suggest getting a used copy of Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion (my review here).

ESRB Rating: M for Mature

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Copyright 2014 John Konecsni

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