Darksiders II Preview

by on May 24, 2012

Darksiders-II-PreviewPeople will always be afraid of death. This is the way of life. However death gives way to new life. So my question is: Do you fear Death?

If not, then now you will. The most feared of the legendary Four Horsemen is here to punish those who oppose him and falsely accuse his brother, War, of committing a crime he didn’t do. This is the main storyline in a nutshell, but of course it is more complicated than that. According to the Council, War brought the Apocalypse to Earth earlier than it was supposed to happen and Death is doing everything in his power to prove otherwise.

Darksiders II looks brilliant and while we had the red and orange theme in the first Darksiders (thanks to the explosions, blood, etc), in Darksiders II the purple and blue theme fits nicely and successfully portrays the environment that Death needs to operate in. In addition to that, the animations seem to be sleeker and maybe a bit more refined while still keeping the blurry-chaos that Death creates with his out-of-this-world moves.

Vigil Games planted a seed that was sure to succeed with a great, yet old story. Darksiders was the story of War, the most honorable and incorruptible Horseman of all. The play style represented a slow but unstoppable force to be reckoned with. Whatever stood in his way, he destroyed. In Darksiders 2, Death plays very differently. He is more nimble and considerably faster, mainly thanks to the fact that he never blocks, he only evades which is perfect for flanking and switching between multiple threats around him.

Death’s weapon of choice is his dual scythes that can be used in many different ways including throwing them. The demo offered to us allowed me to gather some secondary weapons like big hammers that were slower but stronger than the basic scythe. Combining the two together in combat can be great fun and very satisfactory. Again, to compare the two Horsemen, War was more about force and had a medium speed while Death’s moves look faster and while the heavy weapons are slow, if you manage to tie-in a few hits in a combo with a scythe, the action barely slows down. This, again shows just how differently Death interacts with the world around him. With the variety of weapons, armor, magic and loot; the game will have a lot of replay value.

“And I looked, and behold a pale horse: And his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” – Revelation 6:8

The difference in movement is not only present while in combat but when we roam the realms that lie between Heaven and Hell. Death has a considerable amount of new moves in his arsenal and this helps him traverse the environment faster than his brother. For example, Death can wall run which is the good old Prince of Persia move that just simply works in any game. There’s also beam running, pillar climbing and jumping, mantling and wall bouncing which will give many opportunities to Death. I only had one occasion where I managed to jump the wrong way which ended up in a long fall when I turned into something else and flew back up, revealing the “Reaper” form which will be unlocked then perfected while we level up and gain more skills. The good thing is that this Reaper form skill will be leveling up regardless of what skill tree the player chooses, which is good as you don’t really want to force anyone to upgrade something that they simply don’t want to use.

And so we arrive to one of the big improvements of the game, the built-in RPG system. Loot will be everywhere. RPG lovers will need to control their saliva as I managed to pack about ten weapons in my inventory in just the first five minutes of the demo. These will appear both as drops from enemies or they can be found in hidden chests and will have a proper tier system so you can easily decide what to keep and what to sell. There’s not only a huge inventory with a respectable amount of space for loot, but there’s a quite deep skill tree that can be branched out in two directions.

The two types of skill trees are Necromancer and Harbinger. Basically the difference between the two is that while the Harbinger tree is a weapon enhancing and weapon focused warrior tree, the Necromancer tree is more of a spellcaster tree. These skills and inventory items – as well as our trustworthy helpers like Despair (Death’s deadly steed) and Dust (Death’s deadly birdie) – can be assigned to a kind of a quick pop-up inventory like in the Fable or Mass Effect games which allows the player to pause the flow of the combat for just a couple of seconds before laying waste in every direction of the compass. Something that I didn’t manage to try out was the so called possessed weapons that will level up and become more powerful – just like Death – and can feed on items that are sacrificed to them. Combine this, your usual dungeons and an open world where you can explore as much as you want and you have a good RPG game with a brilliant fighting system.

The end of the demo level where Death meets Crowfather was the final part I got to play. The boss battle was quite what you can expect from similar games. Using all the skills and moves that I learned earlier on, I managed to take him down quite easily. This meant that Death could take the first steps in his journey to set things straight and clear his brother’s name. Overall, Darksiders II looks set to deliver in every way possible, and I can’t wait.

Darksiders II is set for release on August 21st for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. A Wii U version has also been confirmed.

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