Review by psymon123
"Almost but not quite."
"War! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!" So sang James Brown back in the day. Well, as it happens I agree with Mr. Brown, in that, War is good for nothing. Just this once though I'm gonna make an exception.
Darksiders places you in the shoes of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (and the eldest of the four). Armagaeddon has come to Earth early and to put it bluntly, mankind is completely buggered!! For those of you who don't know, the 4 Horsemen (in historical context) should only be summoned to Earth to address the balance between Heaven and Hell. To summon them, 7 seals need to be broken, so War is just a little bit p*ssed off to find out the 7th seal was never broken!! So who was behind the deception? Sorry, I'm not spoiling the story for you. :-)
Graphically, Darksiders has as many good points as bad. The visual style is very reminiscent of the Mid-90's X-men comics with big, bulky characters, vibrant colours and some decent character design. Earth looks okay but a bit too intact considering it's the end of the world. Animation is basic but workable whilst the game camera can be a bit erratic. However, the biggest problem (on the 360 version) is some pretty horrendous screen tearing. This really shouldn't be there and does annoy throughout.
Although War looks the part, as do many of the main characters, a lot of the enemy models are repeated constantly. This is a shame as the developers (Vigil Games) could really expand on different enemy types. Bosses look good although one of them is nothing more than a giant sandworm which reminded me of Beetle-Juice.
In regards to the sound, again this is a mixed bag. Firslty the bad. Voice samples are used over and over in battles whilst the music is pretty un-inspiring stuff. On the plus side though, sound effects are nice and throaty with all the appropriate clangs of metal and armour. The best, by far though, is the voice acting for the cut-scenes. Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker, Joker - Batman: Arkham Asylum) plays a major role as The Watcher who is bound to War to ensure his loyalty. However, in my opinion, Liam 'O Brien pulls a stellar performance as the mean and moody War.
The scripting and pacing of the story are fantastic although this isn't always portrayed as well as it should due to the lack of flowing gameplay. And the gameplay is probably the most controversial part of this game. Here's the sum for Darksiders: God of War + Legend of Zelda + Legacy of Kain + Portal + (insert game of choice here) = Darksiders. Seriously, this game borrows, begs and steals elements from all these games. That in itself is a good thing but the game can occasionally seem a bit confused as to what it wants to show you although it soon becomes clear that the combat takes a back seat compared to the puzzles. This really niggled me. "I'M WAR!! 1st HORSEMEN OF THE APOCALYPSE!! I'M GOING TO.......push and pull levers for hours on end?"
Doesn't seem fitting somehow.
Combat is also a missed opportunity with only a couple of buttons used. You will however be hammering the X/square button like it's going out of fashion. Again, this is a shame when compared to recent games like Batman: AA and Bayonetta. Most of the weapons you get, you'll very rarely use unless, like me, you're achievement hunting. Wrath Powers (magic in any other game) are next to useless as is War's Chaos Form. Despite all this, I still found myself enjoying the simplistic gameplay. However, I am aware that I was playing for the story rather than the gameplay.
The game is a reasonable length if you hunt out all collectibles. It took me 20 hours on normal due to the fact that I went out of my way to get all the achievements. I then replayed the game on the hardest difficulty and completed it in 10 hours. After that, there is NO replay value what-so-ever. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero!!
For their 1st game, Vigil have done a decent job of introducing a new IP to the game market but it just lacks the polish to make it a classic. The story is enough to pull you through the game but I'm hoping that Darksiders 2 addresses all the problems listed above.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 01/26/10
Game Release: Darksiders (EU, 01/08/10)
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