Preview: Hands-on with Darksiders II
Darksiders was one of the best action RPGs of many years, that’s my view straight off, playing like a post apocalyptic Zelda title with obvious links to other big name action adventure and action RPG titles alike it did extremely well for a brand new title’s first outing. Great story, great fighting, cool puzzles and some top-notch voice acting (Mark Hamill as your side kick/nemesis is an instant win) so when I found out there would be a sequel I sat in an excited state of waiting, and have ever since, how would it improve upon the previous game? Will War be back? So many questions with no answers, at least until now.
I was lucky enough to have some hands on time with Darksiders II, courtesy of the lovely staff at THQ, who are clearly just as excited about getting this game out there as I was to play it. Setting myself up, I was taken into a lavish room themed to be as dark (and purple) as is fitting for such an epic story, and with my headset on, I was in the zone ready to throw myself deep into the world of Darksiders! As the game started up I was already really excited to see what they’ve added into the mix to push the collapsing apocalyptic world of Darksiders forward and expand upon its obvious winks to some RPG greats.
Set during the imprisonment and eventual conviction of War, you control an extremely angry Death, next in line of the four horsemen. knowing full well that his brother war is possibly the most honourable and incorruptible of the four, Death believes his brother to be at the centre of a mad conspiracy and sets out on a mission to find proof of his brothers innocence, traveling to the Nether Realms and beyond. As a character, Death plays a stark contrast from his brother War, as opposed to being the serious and a stern beast of a fighter, Death adds some comedy in to the mix with cool wit and a sarcastic streak, while as a fighter death feels a lot more fluid and speedy while still maintaining that feel of crushing power (his two scythes tear through anything like butter)
This time around, the Darksiders world has been expanded hugely with a completely new set of maps that are larger in scope (one section of the Nether Realm promises to have more dungeons than the entirety of the original game) but with all this new found space and landscape you’d be forgiven for thinking that there has to be more to do than running from point A to B because yes in fact there is, the RPG elements within the game have now been expanded on, each enemy and loot chest now leaves you with the opportunity of finding new weapons, armour and charms allowing you to customise Death! Death is a bad ass already but there’s always room for improvement right?
This was a really nice addition, something which I felt was sorely lacking in the first Darksiders, it really helps to get you involved that bit more in Death’s successes and failures, asking you to consider what is essentially your “load out” before tackling the beasts of the Nether Realm.
As well as collecting loot, Darksiders is now filled with side quests which the inhabitants of the Nether Realm will cast down onto you, from the time I had they mostly seemed to be fairly basic find and return item quests but I live in hope that these become more challenging and varied as you move on in the world. Again this is another idea which was lacking from the first Darksiders which just adds that next dimension to the title, pulling you deeper into the world and making it even more of a time sink (the 4 hours I had with Darksiders II just flew by)
Darksiders II is an all round improvement on the previous game, not that it needed a huge change. Vigil Games and THQ have clearly taken care to avoid opting to add more details to further enrich the world rather than tweak things that really don’t need touching. Fighting feels a lot more fluid with more combos and character upgrades adding even more of an edge, the voice acting as expected is top class with a deep and brilliant story tagged with it and overall the game plays great.
If my time is indeed anything to go by then Darksiders II will be a smash hit! Death rides again, and I’m really glad he does!