Sunday, 27 February 2011

Darksiders Review [old]

Darksiders is a 3rd Person action/adventure game in which you play War one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse as he fights through hordes of demons and angels in an effort to restore the balance between the two opposing forces that are waging war on a decimated Earth, 200 years after a
biblical apocalypse destroys humanity.

GAMEPLAY - The gameplay of Darksiders can easily be described as God Of War meets The Legend Of Zelda. Most of your time will be spent fighting through armies of angels and demons or solving puzzles. The combat borrows heavily from 3rd Person action games like God Of War and Devil
May Cry although this feels like a much more dumbed-down version. Most enemies
will go down with a simple mash of the square button and its extremely easy to
dodge attacks. You can utilize weapons that you collect along your travels such
as a scythe, gun, crossblade etc. but most of the time you can get by just fine
by mashing the square button which gets very tedious, very quickly. You can
purchase upgrades and items with blue souls earned by defeating enemies but are
far from necessary. You can also turn into a giant beast that can decimate
enemies for a limited time after collecting enough red souls, a cliché seen in
almost every action game for that past 10 years. Conversely the boss battles
are extremely challenging and most of them took a few attempts for me and
required some real strategic thinking to achieve victory. Unfortunately they
are very few in number and the final boss is particularly underwhelming (big
dragon anyone?). Later on the game you can ride your horse, Ruin which adds
some variety and makes one boss battle extremely intense and gripping. The
other half the game is Zelda-style puzzles which begin fairly easy but get
extremely complex and challenging in the latter parts of the game. At their
best the puzzles are challenging and rewarding to complete, at their worst they
are frustrating and ridiculously long. For every puzzles that was punchy and
enjoyable their is one that drags on for 40 minutes or longer that bored me to
tears. The game is not very original borrowing heavily from games like God Of
War, Legend of Zelda, Devil May Cry and at one point directly rips off Portal
which is pretty weak for a new IP. The game can be very fun but the lack of
complexity in the combat and bad pacing drag what could have been a great game
down. The game is about 8-10 hours in length depending on how long it takes you
to figure out the puzzles which is OK but with no additional modes like
multiplayer is not much for the asking price of £35.

STORY - The story of Darksiders is not a bad one, it just suffers from poor pacing and not enough back story. The story concerns War trying to bring peace between heaven and hell by order of the council that somehow governs over them both (no mention of what God was doing, probably
playing World of Warcraft) but the story becomes more convoluted when we find
out that War is blamed for the conflict and as the game progresses the story
get more and more confusing until I was scratching my head through every
cutscene trying to make sense of it all. It all leads to an unsatisfying
conclusion that strongly hints at a sequel. A lot of the time it feels like the
game expects you to know things that it hasn't adequately explained leaving the
player feel disconnected and uninvolved. Thankfully the voice acting is handled
fairly well.

GRAPHICS/AUDIO - The graphics are decent but not on the level of other games like Uncharted 2. The opening cutscene is stunning in HD and the in game environments are varied and interesting providing such locations as a destroyed city in which you fight zombified-humans and a
sun-drenched oasis in which you battle off hordes of angels with a hulking
giant at your side. The art design is one of the games strong points with
plenty of originality in the comic-book inspired character and locations
designs. I noticed some small slow down in big battles and the occasional
glitch but nothing to worry about overall. The music is suitable but nothing to
shout about. The voice acting ranges from great to average. Mark Hammill as the
creepy Watcher is fantastic which makes it all the more disappointing that when
summoned in-game he offers little more than dry banter instead of giving useful
hints or advice. Liam O'Brian as protagonist War is pretty flat for the most
part due to the uninspired dialogue. The various bosses and demons sound
suitably menacing.

Conclusion - Darksiders is by no means a bad game; it is just very, very average. If you're a fan of action games and also like some puzzles and adventure give this game a rental. Hopefully with the planned sequels Vigil Games can iron out some of the problems and add some more complexity to
realise the game's full potential.

Rating: 6.5/10

- Jack Ridsdale

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