Review by JayZero4
And upon the pale horse sat Death, and a great game followed forth...
This is my first review, so please be a little lenient. The original Darksiders was a very good game in my opinion despite it's shortcomings; it hit the important categories-it had great level design, a pretty good story (if a little predictable at times), a very unique and interesting universe, excellent boss battles, and most importantly; it was fun. It was a game you could tell that the developer Vigil games cared about and put a lot of effort into, and when a sequel was announced it really had to win over not only fans of the original, but also those who derided it as derivative-(yet never say jack about Bayonetta-hmm...) Two years later Darksiders II is released and it...is really dang good. It takes a lot of what made the original great and enhances on it, and adds a lot of new features, which-for the most part work very well.
The story takes off as Death is on a journey to redeem his brother War for allegedly starting the apocalypse and wiping out humankind in the first game, and to do so, decides to erase the crime by resurrecting humanity, and on the way travels across many realms of existence in his seemingly insurmountable quest to do so. While this is actually pretty awesome in theory, it's execution is where this game semi-fails. First off, the story never really strays from this goal until the final act and a heavy majority is basically "Hey if you do this I'll help you out" and rarely gets into character development. Another thing that bugs me is how many characters are underutilized, Namely; Death and Absalom, the main character and villain. Death is a rare character in the fact that you know of his actions and his backstory, yet you rarely know him as a person, the concept of a rider of death who betrayed his own race and then condemned to eternal damnation and living with the consequences could make for an excellent main character, yet you rarely get any moments about his character other than "I have to redeem my brother, War" or sarcastic and snide comments (although they are awesome). Absalom is the worst in my opinion, as only he appears three or four times in THE ENTIRE GAME, counting flashbacks and what you do see of him is almost always "I will get my vengeance!" and overall is a VERY weak villain. All-in-All despite it's many flaws the plot does have some pretty good moments and does it's job fairly well.-(7/10)
This is where the game truly shines, as almost everything works perfectly. The game has some very quick paced and exciting fights which can be compared to Devil May Cry, but is expanded upon with the implement of RPG elements-Leveling up, Skill Trees, Stats, Loot, and Questing. These elements are used to compliment the action perfectly as it lets you make a character that fits your fighting style rather than only one, as well as providing extra incentive to do the side quests. The quests unfortunately are pretty lackluster and really don't stray from "Hey can you go here and get this, or kill that" albeit this is remedied by the excellent level design.Speaking of which, the level design in this game is utterly spot on, as they have a nice learning curve, a unique layout, very well made and challenging puzzles, and are just plain fun to explore. Lastly, there are some collectables hidden throughout the game which are used very well as the incentive for actually putting the effort into getting them is great in the form of new dungeons to explore, and permanent stat boosts. Overall, the gameplay in Darksiders II is extremely well crafted and enjoyable.-(9.5/10)
The game really surprised me with how good the sound design is. First off, the music is actually very nice and sets the mood or atmosphere very well in almost all situations as well as gets you psyched for a big fight. The voice acting is also surprisingly good as all voices really fit their characters as well as give very good performances, especially Michael Wincott as Death who sound exactly as you would picture the pale rider, and also nails the snide attitude of the character very well. Overall sound is very good. (9/10)
*Players buying the game used will have to pay for the crucible pass to access the game's battle arena, and that is just a terrible decision.
* Thousands of pieces of loot...seriously, I'm talking Borderlands level sums of loot here.
*Art design is flat-out amazing...seriously, try the first level and you'll see.
*Some technical bugs such as sound disappearing on rare occasion, and occasional game-breaking bugs that require a reboot.
*Major Boss fights are less memorable than the first game (yet oddly, the normal boss fights are really good)
*Please note that this game rarely holds your hand in puzzles, coupled with the fact that some are hard as nails can occasionally be infuriating.
In the end, Darksiders II strives to improve on the first in every way and succeeds extremely well at that task. Despite it's shortcomings it still manages to be a fun, clever, very stylish, and extremely enjoyable game that I wholeheartedly endorse.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Darksiders II (Limited Edition) (US, 08/14/12)
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