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Slick’s Nit-Picks: Darksiders II

In January of 2012, Joe Madureira and Vigil games took gamers past the fall of man and put us in control of the one responsible for our doom. As War, players fought to redeem his name as he is charged with starting the Apocalypse before its appointed time. Large scale battles were the norm as the Horseman tore his way through the realms of Earth, Hell, Heaven and beyond. In the end, a great Corruption was discovered. War was but a pawn in the greater scheme. Undaunted by this information, he looks forward as his three kinsmen join him and Darksiders comes to a close. Now a new tale begins in the only sensible manner possible. War is a great uncertainty, but in the end, three things are sure to follow: Dust, Despair and of course, Death.

SPOILER ALERT! End of Darksiders 1 if you have not played it yet, don’t play this video!

BLOOD IS THICKER…ISN’T IT? A quick side note in case you have been living under a rock – the events of Darksiders II take place during the same timeframe as the first game; Death’s exploits happen parallel to those of War. The makers really want to see who is paying attention to the story and who is just ripping the wings off of angels. Our game begins with backstory on the horsemen themselves. We learn that they come from a race called the Nephilim, beings that were half angel, half demon. Possibly the most powerful creatures in existence, they were condemned to extinction for attempting to overthrow Heaven and Hell in a bid to wipe humanity from Eden and claim it for themselves. The Four Horsemen were granted amnesty from this punishment and given powers beyond belief in exchange for bringing about the end of their kind. On his quest to clear his brother’s name, Death is reminded of this treachery. A being known as the Crowfather used his dying breath to embed the fragments of a lamp in Death’s chest (the green glow). The lamp contained the souls of the Nephilim and now the one who already felt most responsible for their deaths is tortured by their neverending cries.

War sought to clear his name by uncovering those truly responsible for the end of humanity and bringing them to justice. Death chose a seemingly more impossible task: oddly enough, the Grim Reaper himself plans to restore humanity. His mission is the true definition of irony.  His path will take him bot to place where War has tread and those he has not; he will encounter friend, foe and neutral faces that are familiar to War like Vulgrim, Ulthane, Wicked K and Uriel. He will meet many more that are unique to his journey. Early on he realizes that stopping this spreading Corruption is both more important than restoring humanity as well as being an integral part of his mission. It is this Corruption that caused his brother’s downfall and it is the same Corruption that will destroy all of creation if he fails.

STOP AND SMELL THE CORRUPTION Darksiders had a tendency to have huge areas of nothing once you had cleared a level. The monsters were tied to the boss and once the boss was dead, they were gone. The sequel does not seem to have this issue as monsters respawn once you leave an area or use fast travel, a new and welcome addition. The problem is that there are huge areas where you must ride Despair unless you really feel like killing time and there are only a handful of monsters in these areas. Then there are the monsters themselves. After a game like Darksiders, I am guessing that developers get a lot of complaints that monsters are too tough or they take forever to kill. This was a prevalent matter in the first game. I remember individual monsters that would take a minute or two to kill and some were not even mini bosses. If you have Death combo his scythes with whatever equipped secondary weapon, not only do monsters die really quickly, some of them cannot even fight back. I am playing on Apocalyptic and the only deaths I have racked up come from poor platforming on my part.

Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of good in the gameplay, that was just my personal gripe. The customization of Death’s look alone is a mini-game. Depending upon what armor and weapons you equip, one person’s Death may look entirely different from another’s. And the possessed weapons are awesome. You literally feed them other weapons and armor to up their stats. Death is actually a much more subtle combatant than War, but when he puts you down, there simply is nothing left. Reaper mode is just as welcome as War’s Chaos form was last time. Darksiders II is much easier than the first game, but it is also just as enjoyable.

LOOK INTO THE FACE OF DEATH I had a colleague of mine tell me that they were disappointed with the look of Darksiders II. I had to ask what he meant by that and he explained that the game looked just like the last game. I got where he was coming from but I was still a bit confused. The art direction is based off of the designs of the same man, the game takes place in the same universe and some of the same characters appear. I don’t see how the game could not look very similar. That said, the game is beautiful, when it is not freezing up on you. The community boards say that patches are in the works, and thankfully this game has a tendency to save itself about every five seconds. I can personally say the game has frozen on me twice; once I had to turn my whole console off. Things like that make the prettiest games look a bit ugly. Thankfully, I can say that I did not lose any of my game data and hope other players are equally as lucky. I could file this issue under gameplay, but I already had a beef there and it works just as well here. You cannot enjoy the graphics of the game either if it locks up on you.

DEATH KNELL As Death cuts his way through his enemies, trying to reach the Tree of Life, we have Jesper Kyd to thank for his brilliant compositions. If you are not familiar with his work, just think of the Borderlands and Assassin’s Creed series because he has worked on all of those games. Those who were lucky enough to get their hands on the collector’s edition of the game have the full soundtrack to enjoy. When not in battle, the music is subtle enough where you might not notice it if you don’t pay attention. During large scale battles and boss fights especially, the music urges you to tear your enemies apart. I would be happy to see Kyd work on future titles in the series.

Darksiders II continues a fantastic story started by vigil Games and Joe Mad and leaves us waiting for the next installment. In terms of story, there is nothing left out. Unfortunately, in terms of programming and gameplay, it feels like the game was not ready. You have Old Ones telling Death that Corruption is everywhere and there are monsters all across the land. That said, I should not be able to traverse the land without fighting, atop Despair no less, for a full minute or more. I have come to accept the The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have crappy jumping ability so I am not going to go on about that. I will go on about game freezes and glitches that let people jump infinitely across the screen which make no sense. If the game is not ready, do not put it out. Fans may complain, but we will wait. We work hard, just like the developers do to make the money we spend on these games. Make these games worth our money. In conclusion, Darksiders II is a must have for fans of the story. If you want a good action game, you may want to try it at a friend’s house or play a demo first. I cannot recommend this to someone that has not played the first game as it is not a standalone title in the story sense. The first game can be purchased for twenty dollars or less if you look. Pick it up and play it through before touching this game.

I hate that I have to slap this section on this game. I need to specifically say that this rant is not against Vigil Games, but against THQ, the publisher. My Take Radio has a good relationship with Han Randhawa and Haydn Dalton from the creative team behind both games and in all honesty, this slam is not against the making of the game, but the marketing. I have no issue with the Collector’s edition of the game selling for $100. True fans of the game got enough quality added merchandise to support that price. I do not have any issue with there being a Limited Edition release of the game either. It was regular price and it rewarded fans who pre-ordered with weapons, armor and more. That is cool and is reminiscent of the Prototype 2 Radnet bonus. The reason I flip THQ the bird has to do with the so-called season pass and Crucible pass. The Crucible is an added game mode where death enters an arena and faces one hundred waves of enemies for an as yet unnamed reward. Sounds awesome because it is awesome. It is bullshit to start with that this was not ready at release since the game could have come out complete when it was ready. What makes things worse is that There is a code to download it in the instruction manual which means if you are not the original buyer of the game that you have to pay more to get this mode. That part is OK, I am fine with companies making some dough off of used games. However, there is nothing stopping THQ from removing this code from the manual a few months down the line and making first time buyers pay extra. I hope they do not do this, but it is a possibility. Now let us move on to the Season pass. Here is a description from the PSN website on the DLC:

  • Season Pass provides a discount on the Maker Armor Set (available now), The Abyssal Forge (available soon), and The Demon Lord Belial (available soon). Please note Season Pass does not include any content other than the three items listed above. Season Pass content should be accessed and downloaded in-game, or you may be charged twice. Visit darksiders.com for more details.

Now having looked in the Playstation Store, I can tell you that the Season pass is $19.99. If this is the discount price, one can only guess how much these items would cost separately. My personal guess is that the three would total at least $30. So what THQ is saying is that true fans of the game, people like myself that like to complete everything, have to pay at least $80 for Darksiders II. And if you were “lucky” enough to get the Collector’s Edition, you are the proud owner of a $120 video game. With crap like that getting shoved down our throats, I cannot, in good conscience, recommend the game to anyone! I would honestly say “DO NOT BUY DARKSIDERS II,” but if people listened to that I would never see Darksiders III. As a fan I am damned if I do and damned if I don’t. THQ can kiss my ass.