PS3 Reviews: Darksiders II Review

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Darksiders II Review

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Graphics:

 

8.7

Gameplay:

 

9.1

Sound:

 

9.0

Control:

 

8.8

Replay Value:

 

9.3

Overall Rating:       9.0

 

 

Online Gameplay:

Not Rated

Publisher:

THQ

Developer:

Vigil Games

Number Of Players:

1

Genre:

Action/RPG

Usually, when you attempt to be a jack of all trades, you become a master of none and end up floundering in mediocrity. And while it may be true to say that Darksiders II isn’t the very best at any of its many gameplay facets (role-playing, action, platforming, puzzle-solving, etc.), it continues to excel throughout. In fact, the elements are blended so well together, and the final result is so solid and addictive, it’s hard to get annoyed at the little eccentricities. Basically, you’re looking at a very robust, extremely well designed package.

Those who appreciate art design should marvel at the game’s environments, character and enemy designs, special effects, and animations. Some might say the graphics are actually the weakest part of this sequel, but that’s only if you ignore the sheer amount of creativity…and why should we do that? It’s not the most polished or the most advanced in terms of realism. There are a few hitches and glitches here and there. But like the game itself, the overall presentation is what ultimately matters, and the amount of effort expended to create this engaging fantasy world is amazing.

Such effort never went unnoticed in my play time, and the same goes for the excellent soundtrack, voice performances, and crisp, invigorating effects. The music can be a bit repetitive, as many of the same tracks are recycled for different areas, but it’s just so well composed and implemented. Music should always be a great complement to the action and that’s exactly what we get in Darksiders II. I was also a little surprised to hear such fine voice acting, as most all the characters, from Death himself to the Makers with those heavy Scottish accents, are tremendously well voiced. The audio balancing is a big plus, too; everything works together in this category.

In some ways, it’s a crime to pigeonhole Darksiders II and say, “yes, it’s definitely a ‘insert genre name here.’” Technically, I suppose it’s an action/RPG, as it combines the real-time hack ‘n slash combat of a God of War with the fantastic depth of a Dragon Age. But there’s also platforming and puzzle-solving, traits that can be ascribed to various genres, including third-person shooters such as Uncharted. And let’s not forget the Zelda-esque elements, such as earning new tools and abilities that open up new sections of the map.

Death is out to clear the name of his brother, War, who is bound to be found guilty by the Council for condemning humanity. But Death is convinced that War is innocent and he must embark on a quest that involves the resurrection of humanity if he wants to free his comrade in arms. Death is a little smaller than his compatriot, but he’s also faster and more agile, and as this really is a full RPG in most every sense of the term, he will grow depending on the player’s preferences. There’s a skill tree (two, actually, one each for Harbinger and Necromancer), a ton of equipment ranging from boots to helms, and a primary and secondary weapon.

He gains experience and levels and his stats are affected by the equipment he puts on, which in my estimation is role-playing. The world isn’t as large and open as something like The Elder Scrolls, but there’s still plenty of exploring to be done. There are open outdoor environments ranging greatly in style and tone, there are dungeons and other indoor locales that may hold various secrets, and Tri-Stone is your first central hub. Exploration is a breeze, as you have both Dust (a crow that guides you) and Despair, your trusty horse that is available when traversing the larger open areas.

You can also fast travel almost as often as you wish, and that includes leaving your position deep within a dungeon so you can sell off all the equipment you’ve accumulated to buy better stuff. When finished, you can return to that exact spot in the dungeon because you automatically leave a waypoint behind. That’s sort of an ongoing trend in this game: It’s just never meant to be frustrating. It’s meant to be challenging, but that’s a very different thing. The potential for numerous irritations was high due to the sheer size and scope of the game, but Vigil avoided a ton of pitfalls.

For instance, there’s always plenty of room in your inventory, so you’re not always traveling back to town to sell off a bunch of crap. There’s no weight limitation so you’re not always struggling to remove what you can’t carry. At the same time, they don’t skimp on the depth as there can be level restrictions for certain pieces of equipment, and the Possessed weapons actually let you “feed” them by sacrificing other things in your inventory. Feed ‘em more and they get more powerful. Platforming is simple and streamlined, and combat is accessible but with the option of combo complexity for the more hardcore players.

The control is almost always on point and once again, to avoid vexation, they give you the option of locking on with the L2 button. This is great for bosses and other particularly problematic foes. The only downside is that the camera isn’t always cooperative, as it can get a little wacky in confined areas. In a way, I almost think a fixed camera (for only the interior sections) would’ve worked better, just because the combat is so fast and there are usually multiple enemies. Further, because the camera sits a little too close for my liking, you’re constantly spinning the camera about to ensure that something isn’t behind you.

While I’m on the subject of negatives, I’ll just finish the thought— This isn’t the most technically sound game in the world. I died instantly due to a couple of crazy glitches, and the game very nearly froze on me two or three times. Enemies can get lost inside walls (clipping and collision detection is an issue throughout), and occasionally I questioned the responsiveness of my evade command. But the latter could be due to my own mistake; screwing up in the heat of battle and being convinced I hit R1 in time when in fact, I didn’t. I have to acknowledge that possibility.

But aside from the technical misgivings, Darksiders II delivers on all fronts. The combat is easy to pick up but difficult to master, as there are combos, special abilities, and magic that can be utilized in a multitude of ways. The puzzles are never too hard but they do make you think, the platforming is well-incorporated, and the adventure elements (such as earning an extremely helpful grappling device) blend beautifully with the pacing of the quest. There are a few memorable boss encounters and you always emerge from a play session feeling satisfied and rewarded.

At first, I thought it was a mistake to not include a block feature. But the more I played, the more I realized that only having the possibility of evading kept the game moving at a fast pace, which fits the mold. It could’ve been an issue without the lock-on option, given that the camera can’t always keep up, but the developers didn’t forget. You’re always looking to find or purchase new equipment, you’re always trying to get every chest in every dungeon, and there are plenty of side-quests to keep you entertained for many more hours beyond the main campaign.

Then there’s the Crucible Mode, which really focuses on the combat aspect of the game; it’s a 100-level test that opens up gradually as you play through the story. If you step back and view the game from a bird’s-eye view, you start to gather in the full scope and size of the adventure. The number of different gameplay mechanics is actually quite impressive; I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many in one place before. Heck, there’s even a co-op mechanic as you’ll have a character join you at one point. RPG, action, adventure, platforming, puzzle…it’s all good and it’s all here, and that's a definite achievement.

Darksiders II is a special game. The combination of many different gameplay types melded into a cohesive style results in a heady experience, and one you don’t want to end. There are a few problems with the technical solidarity and I’m not all that impressed with the story, but everything else, from the art design to the music to the silly high fun factor surrounding the combat and exploration; it creates an undeniably appealing package. The best part is that despite using so many different systems and gameplay features, the game still manages to carve out its own niche, to be very much its own formidable beast.

And that right there is reason enough to highly recommend it.

The Good: Design and style is excellent. Music is stellar and voice acting is great. Solid, accessible control. Large, diverse world begging to be explored. Vigil paid attention to the little things. Unbelievable mix of multiple forms of gameplay, and they all work extremely well together.

The Bad: Prone to glitches and freezing. Camera can be problematic in tight spots. Story isn’t all that gripping.

The Ugly: “Monster in the wall…game doesn’t know I killed it…door might not open now…uh-oh…”

8/14/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (31 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 @ 10:14:46 PM
Reply

Glad it turned out so well and I'm also happy Death is a thinner, more lithe character. War wasn't clunky, but he was kind of bulky for my taste. I like quickness. It's looking like a "some day" pickup for me.

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Temjin001
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 @ 10:20:54 PM
Reply

Looks like a champ, given you're not hard up on technical misgivings. This is on my must play list.

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DazeOfWar
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 12:57:18 AM
Reply

I just put in about 4 hours tonight and I'm loving it. I really enjoy Darksiders and this just improves on so many levels. It's a must play game for anybody in my opinion.

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 9:02:20 AM

I put in around 6 I think and I just couldn't stop playing. I was like okay I'll stop after this room...and then an hour later I'm like oh well I might as well finish the dungeon....

Totally awesome game so far.

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Oxvial
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 1:12:08 AM
Reply

I'm happy the people worked so hard for their game made an awesome experience..I'll buy it at a high price!

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berserk
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 4:21:02 AM
Reply

Just want to say there is a shield weapon you can block with (you still get some damage tho ) and then counter .

Also need to say i had lots of fun with it yesterday .

The only disappointing thing about it is the skill three since it feel so limited .3 special move with 3-4 skill related to them and one special move at the end with no skill related to it per skill three ( only 2 total ).

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 9:59:07 AM

Yes, I know. That's not a block mechanic.

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berserk
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 2:15:48 PM

Why i did nt quote .

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___________
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 6:44:34 AM
Reply

still on the fence with this.
it just looks so changed from the original it spoils it!
i hope im wrong because i absolutely loved darksiders so i really want this to live up to the name!
i just wish they gave us a sequel with war, with the classic heavy slower paced combat first!
everything that made the original so unique and awesome has been turned on its head!
sigh, tis the way of the industry lately..........

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 8:57:01 AM

I pumped 6 hours into this game yesterday. It isn't much different from the first game. It has some technical shortcomings(so I hear,but haven't experienced)but the scope of the game is incredible and I'm loving it so far.

The only thing differently is your more agile, but it isn't to much in my opinion.

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___________
Thursday, August 16, 2012 @ 7:23:44 AM

the combats night and day!
its allot more simplified, hell you cant even use the triangle attack button its not unlocked at the start of the game!
not only is it allot faster than darksiders, its allot more simplified too!
sigh, its the amazing spiderman all over again!
why does every game have to be made for freaking 2 year olds!?
i miss the complexity and in depth combat system of lords of shadow, this would of been freaking epic with a combat system like that!

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xenris
Thursday, August 16, 2012 @ 8:56:18 AM

Put it in Apocalyptic, I am a Dark Souls fanatic and I have managed to die a couple times in hard mode in DS2.

You can't triangle attack because you don't have a secondary weapon, which takes about 10 maybe fifteen minutes to get.

Remember Darksiders 1, you started with everything then lost it and became a slow brute with very little combat options and that lasted way more than 10-20 minutes.

Your assumption that the combat is simplified is because you haven't played the game. You can't block so you have to rely on timed dodges, not only that there are some really tough optional fights at the beginning of the game if you think its too easy.

BUT enemies aside you have way way WAY more combat options in this game, and I'm only in the beginning chapter. You have square and triangle, jumping mid attack acts as a lift attack, you have air juggles, down slam, lift repeats, and on top of all of that you have skills and spells from the skill tree you can use fluidly as well.

Don't watch a video and think you know how the game plays. Further more if you did buy this, which I highly doubt you did from the sounds of your complaints, then get a little further before judging it and put it in hard mode.

Lords of Shadows combat system wasn't all that deep, only when I played it in hard mode did it get slightly challenging.

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___________
Friday, August 17, 2012 @ 9:46:42 AM

what does difficulty have to do with a complex combat system?
dude, your totally lost!
CLOS had THE most complex battle system!
not only was it button contextual it was also timing and length based as well.
darksiders is not, its just button contextual it does not matter whether you hold a button or press it, or mash it like a 4 year old kid on COD!
darksiders worked because it was so slow and had a sense of weight behind it.
this does not, so it really needs that added depth to get a flow going.
hopefully once you unlock some magic it will get a little more interesting, but so far its a bedtime story!

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xenris
Sunday, August 19, 2012 @ 3:07:00 PM

Still haven't played the game I see? Because you can't just mash in the harder difficulty. In fact I have had some really intense battles in the last hour of gameplay two arenas in particular were really hard, and required proper use of the combos.
You learn skills from the trainers in the game. There are chains exactly like there are in CLOS. Square square,pause, square for example. I am 14 hours in so far and the combat is slowly getting more depth to it, from trainers alone. Plus now timed dodges send out a counter attack that hurts the enemy.

Also I just got to a trainer, and now I have moves like square, triangle pause triangle, hold triangle.

So seriously play the game THROUGH before making baseless assumptions from a couple videos you watched or some forums you read. If you have played it or own it, keep playing as it has only been getting more depth for me, and maybe consider putting it in hard mode if you want to see how much you can't mash in the harder modes.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 7:47:43 AM
Reply

Interesting! I'll pick it up right after the first price drop. :)

On a sidenote: IGN did an *amazing* blunder with their score of this game (7.5). I don't think I've seen them stray that far off the meta score ever before.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/15/2012 7:48:29 AM

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 9:01:13 AM

Aw, you should get it at full price to support these guys! They really poured their heart into this game and it shows.

As for the IGN review if you read it, it was terrible and inconsistent. It felt like they got someone to review it who they knew was going to hate it. She said it looked SD graphically at times, which I 100% disagree with, but even if it still was SD looking the art direction is awesome.

I dunno I know reviews are all opinion, but I would think that sometimes a reviewer even if they didn't like the game could step back and say okay I see that people who like this style of graphics are going to love this etc. I dunno I didn't like her review and I am glad its one of the few low ones out there.



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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 9:59:54 AM

Reviews are NOT all opinion and never can be.

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Beamboom
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 10:01:44 AM

Professional reviews are not (/should not be) all opinion, that's what user reviews are and that's what makes them useless (in My Not So Humble Opinion).

And I find IGN to usually be trustworthy when it comes to their ratings (in the sense that they are usually practically dead on the final meta score) but this time they radically strayed off.

As for getting it full price: I've always been cheap ;)
No but there are very few games I buy full price. It would simply be too much. I buy quite a lot of games, I'd say somewhere between 10-20 games a year on average, and buying them all full price is just not worth it.

Also, this late in the lifespan of the PS3 I am hesitant of buying new games *at all*. I got literary a pile of games in my backlog for the PS3 and as I plan on jumping straight to the PS4 the moment it is released, buying games now that are rendered practically worthless in a year or so... I dunno...
I'm hesitant.


Last edited by Beamboom on 8/15/2012 10:02:25 AM

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Oxvial
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 10:01:50 AM

The SD comment is funny taking into account the reviewer love Nintendo games.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 10:25:07 AM

Beamboom: Yeah, it's one of my biggest pet peeves when people say reviews are "all opinion." This implies that absolutely anyone can write a review because of course, anyone can form an opinion.

It completely negates the need for any knowledge or expertise. It means that what critics do is entirely meaningless if it's only "opinion." And when it comes to a review, there's actually very little opinion. It isn't an "opinion" to say the graphics in Uncharted 3 are better than the graphics in Darksiders II. It isn't an "opinion" to say the voice acting in Heavenly Sword was better than the voice acting in whatever that painful game I reviewed right after it was.

I also hate it because when "opinion" rules, this also negates the quality of a product. In other words, if someone's opinion is that they don't like it, the product sucks. That's just plain wrong. Just because I don't like RTS doesn't mean I can give every RTS I play a 2. Just because someone may like a Big Mac more than a filet mignon doesn't make the Big Mac a superior piece of meat.

There is gray in this world, but I really can't stand the theory that there is NO black and white. In fact, there's a lot of it, and some people just don't want to admit they're not qualified to see it.

P.S. Xenris, none of this was directed at you. Just a rant on my pet peeve. :)

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 10:27:20 AM

Yeah, I worded that poorly. I meant good reviews are ones that don't just feel like opinions and look at things more objectively. Ben thankfully does that, IGN usually does that, but some of their new reviewers are pretty ... I dunno I want to say terrible... but that would be a little to harsh and inaccurate.

Oxvial-

I also find it funny, that the reviewer loves pokemon...and loves nintendo games and then says that Darksiders 2 is repetitive and SD looking. I think that is the definition of pokemon and its many sequels that all felt basically the same to me. Not bashing pokemon, I loved the first few iterations..or colours...lol.

Beam-

I buy a lot of games too so I know what your saying. I just think this is a rare occasion that warrants the full price purchase...but maybe you can get it for Christmas for cheaper:P

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 11:12:14 AM

I agree entirely with said rant Ben :)

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Temjin001
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 1:37:33 PM

I think the ign lady reviewing the game was not feeling well or something when playing it, or had some personal grudge. She has one of the lowest scores for it among the ones listed on Metacritic. She really made the majority of the review read pretty miserable. And no, absutely no do I agree with her that Darksiders SHOULD be more like a shorter GoW game. I feel confident in saying that without actually having played DSII. I probably wouldn't play the franchise at all if it wasn't built on a foundation of epic adventure.

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 3:03:11 PM

Yeah Temjin there were all sorts of things wrong with her review. I actually have a suspicion that she didn't play more than a couple hours. She even said that the triangle attack was terribly slow....so I guess she didn't use the inventory once as you can swap it out for super fast claw weapons.

Her point about it needing to be smaller was ridiculous too. I dunno the whole time it felt like she was basically saying this isn't Zelda but tries to copy it so I'm going to hate on it lol.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 4:14:18 PM

I didn't read the IGN review, but I think if someone got really picky about the technical faults and maybe had been unlucky enough to have the game crash and freeze a lot, the score could be low.

Is that why it got a 7.5?

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 4:59:54 PM

She did seem to like the RPG elements, however she complained that it was glitchy buggy, the world was too big/empty, graphics were SD quality although she thought the art direction was alright, that the combat was repetitive and too easy, and the bulk of the game was repetitive and didn't change much from the first couple hours to the last couple hours. She said that the story was sophomoric, and trying to be a lord of the rings gone to hell.

At the end of the video review its strikes against it were, too repetitive and lots of glitches. So I guess those were her main reasons.

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Nickjcal
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 5:15:32 PM

The IGN reviewer completely looked over the in-depth combat and how tactical it can be with the powers that you do get.

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 5:49:44 PM

Also if it was too easy she could have put it in hard mode like I did. Even with my Dark souls experience I have died a good amount of times. Nothing dreadfully hard yet, but I'm still at the beginning of my adventure.

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Ben Dutka PSXE [Administrator]
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 6:34:10 PM

The glitches are there and the story isn't great, as I said in my review.

But the depth of combat is absolutely there, and saying the world is sort of empty is missing the bigger picture. There are a lot of games with more stuff in the outdoor environments, but almost none that offered what the INDOOR environments do. The combination of the two is great.

I just don't think there's enough to complain about to give this game a 7.5.

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 6:47:53 PM

Yeah, I agree with those points, the glitches are there and I have seen them...I just haven't experienced them in my game thank goodness. Can't speak for the story so far as I haven't gotten too far. I can say though that the first 10-15 minute introduction gave me goosebumps, but I think it was mostly the music doing that.

That's what I was thinking, the bigger picture of this game is what she seemed to miss. But thankfully she seems to be a very small minority of people who didn't really LOVE the game. I'm glad you did :)

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xenris
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 @ 9:05:18 AM
Reply

Nice review Ben. I am totally into this game right now. I can really feel the love they put into this game. The loot system is fun and addictive, and the combat feels smoother than the first.

Also the soundtrack is quick stunning. The first bit of music that plays in the beginning while death is riding his horse made me goosbump.

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