Review – Darksiders II [Wii U]

Posted: December 28, 2012 in Review, Wii U

The original Darksiders received mainly positive reviews and it was a surprise that a sequel was announced for a game which also praised was also considered an amalgamation of three different games series’: Devil May Cry, God of War and Nintendo’s very own Legend of Zelda. Darksiders II has been out on the rival consoles for months now but Vigil Games have given it the Wii U adaptation, complete with added gamepad interface.

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Set during the events of the original Darksiders where fellow Horseman of the Apocalypse War is being blamed for causing a premature apocalypse and is charged with finding out the real culprit, brother Death is also trying to prove War’s innocence and restore balance by bringing back humanity. The fact that the grim reaper himself is trying to bring back life is a massive slice of the irony pie but what better way to want Death to do some more killing if not to restore the human race? Maybe he needs the work.

A heavy departure from the combat heavy gameplay of the original, Darksiders II has more emphasis on puzzle solving and exploration. Death has the agility of a cat as he scrabbles up walls and bounces from surface to surface to get his way around unlockable doors and impassable chasms. The motions are fluid and certainly look impressive.

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Following the slower battle style of War, Death is wielding scythes and heavier weapons with near-light speed velocity with the many bits of weapons and accessories which you can kit Death out with. This leads to a beautiful light show when battling enemies but comes at a price of losing track of where you actually are and even worse some lagging issues. Sadly the quests are less varied than Death’s wardrobe, resorting to a plethora of fetch quests which become layered within each other. For example later into the game you require the assistance of the Lord of the Dead, to seek an audience with him you need to defeat his Champion which requires the gathering of three Animus stones. Once you defeat the Champion and see the Dead King he will only help you if you assemble the three members of his Dead Court and when you locate them in their widely spread locations another trio of tasks must be completed before each one will join you. This can get tiring rather quickly. Only the slightly different looking environments help this game reaching a Phantom Hourglass level of tedium.

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For a game which focuses on a land of the dead environment with gruesome monsters lurking pretty much everywhere, the music can be rather serene at times. Only during combat does it lunge into a tense melody but during exploration and puzzle solving it’s quite calming.

Graphically when things are in order everything does look crisp, however there are some lighting issues where textures change depending on the camera angle. Even walking past a cavern wall with a beautiful light texture only for it to disappear completely as if the camera is blocking the light can dampen the enjoyment of the view. Cut scenes are displayed on the gamepad and if you’re playing on a larger television they actually look better on the gamepad.

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Even with the touch screen “convenience” of the Wii U gamepad – the controls are hit-and-miss. When it comes to wall jumping like a Persian Prince it will soon become second nature of timing your jumps accurately. During combat the primary and secondary weapon usage is also easy; it’s the added abilities which can prove tricky in the heat of battle. Depending on how you hold the control pad, holding down the LR trigger to lock onto an enemy and then trying to press L to use the shortcut keys almost lead to me pushing the pad out of my hands. Like how the bottom screen of the 3DS is normally used, the gamepad screen serves to declutter of the main screen by holding your map and inventory. However the inventory can easily be brought up on your TV to stop yourself looking down all the time.

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Darksiders II is by no means a bad game, but it’s not a great game either. Certainly not worth the full price tag it currently has. When it falls below the £25-30 it will be more of worthwhile purchase. With many fancy combat moves against many different monsters and a lot of exploration needed to discover all the hidden secrets it won’t be a short game, but do not expect much variety in terms of gameplay. An enjoyable hack and slash adventure with lots to do, it’s a shame that most of what there is to do is pretty much the same.

Gameplay 3
Playability 3
Visuals 3
Audio 4
Lifespan 5

Pr0s
A] Satisfying combat system
B] Charming soundtrack
C] Gorgeous visuals most of the time
D] Lots of hidden weapons/items to uncover

Cons
A] Lag issues during heavy combat
B] Textures inconsistent at times
C] Not much in terms of varied gameplay

7/10

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