FutureFive New Zealand - Consumer technology news & reviews from the future
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Fri, 17th Aug 2012
FYI, this story is more than a year old

What Darksiders II offers is a quality action adventure experience and is quite possibly the best game released in 2012 so far.

The game does in fact borrow elements from the God of War series, but the game is nothing like your typical hack-n-slash video game. In hindsight, the game actually borrows elements from a number of different games from other genres resulting in both variety and even beauty.

First off, Darksiders II's story is based on the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse. War has been convicted of destroying mankind 1000 years too early, but Death (his brother) feels that his brother is innocent. Death sets out on a journey to try and restore humanity to what it once was and clear his brother's name.

The beauty of the game lies within the breathtaking size of it – much like RPG games such as Dark Souls and Skyrim, there's a huge world for you to explore.

The environments remind me of Middle Earth sometimes, with some of the locations so far apart Death has to ride on his trusty horse in order to get there. Amazingly, the game has minimal loading time meaning the worry about waiting to play the game is removed.

The character design is heavily inspired by the Lord of the Rings movies much like the environments are. Some of the ‘dead' characters resemble the undead army seen in Return of the King while the larger Stone Guardians act like the Ents from The Two Towers.

Although Death himself looks awesome and doesn't have the traditional hood and scythe that he is often represented like in other mediums – this Death looks more like a tough professional wrestler and has access to more weapons and a variety of different armor too.

Death indeed still has a scythe in Darksiders II, but he can also wield other weapons too such as hammers and swords.

Death even has a pistol and best of all, something called ‘Reaper Form', which transforms Death into a purple flying menacing machine that can easily turn the tide against any of the enemies you face in the game.

It only lasts a few seconds but it's one of the best experiences you will have in the game once you get the chance to use it.

Players can upgrade the skills, weapons and armour Death will encounter in his long journey meaning the more you play the game, the more skills will become available to him.

You can also buy various weapons and armour from some of the characters in the game. Personally, I found that some of the treasure chests you open contain more powerful armour and weapons instead.

Still, it's great to see that you can customize how you want Death to fight like in this game.

The epic boss battles that are littered throughout the game are arguably one of the best features in Darksiders II. Although most of the bosses follow a similar pattern for you to exploit, they're not always blatantly explained to you all the time.

The one gripe I have about modern day video games is that there's too much hand-holding and they rarely give a chance for the player to figure things for themselves. Some of the earlier bosses give you ‘hints' on how to defeat them, but latter ones you don't have that luxury. Even the many the dungeons you explore there isn't obvious paths for you to take.

Darksiders II doesn't offer the usual linear level design where you just walk forward in a straight path all the time. The game design reminds me a lot of a Tomb Raider game as Death will need to open locked door, find keys and often solve puzzles in large tomb-like areas.

Death can even run along walls like the Prince does in the Prince of Persia games. Death has a helpful little bird named Dust to help him find his way through the many dungeons and tombs he visits, although this bird can sometimes tell you to go the wrong way…

Darksiders II isn't without its faults however. Considering the game map is so large, you can expect to experience a few glitches here and there. One of my most humorous experiences was when I somehow made Death leave the actual game itself and was left in limbo.

Another time, he went swimming and somehow got stuck in an area that wouldn't let him out of the water. These sorts of things happen in the game but thankfully, this game autosaves frequently so you don't have to backtrack so much.

Although loading times are generally fast, other areas like when you are entering doors, the game sometimes stalls on you. Even during some dialogue scenes I experienced a bit of lag.

Darksiders II is a high quality game that fans of other action-adventure type games such as Assassin's Creed and the God of War series shouldn't miss out on. There's a huge world to explore in the game and the combat system is enjoyable too. It may suffer from a few glitches here and there, but this doesn't happen too frequently.

In short, Darksiders II is one of the best games I've played so far in 2012.

If you happened to unfortunately miss out on playing the first game, don't make the mistake of bypassing the sequel as well. You may be pleasantly surprised by how much fun you will have while playing this game.

Graphics: 8.5

Sound: 8.0

Gameplay: 9.0

Lasting Appeal: 8.5

Overall: 9.0