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Darksiders (Xbox 360)
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- Become War - Unleash the apocalyptic wrath of War with devastating supernatural abilities
- An extreme arsenal of angelic, demonic, and earthly weapons
- And use virtually anything within your environment as a weapon
- Epic Quest - Journey across wastelands and demon-infested dungeons of the decimated Earth,and uncover the hidden secrets to aid in your quest for vengeance and redemption
- Battle Heaven and Hell - Destroy all who stand in your way - from war-weary angelic forces to Hells hideous demon hordes, and confront the nefarious Destroyer, the very harbinger of Armageddon
- Choose Your Characters Progression - Uncover powerful ancient relics, upgrade your weapons,unlock spectacular new wrath abilities, and customise your gameplay style
- Horseman of the Apocalypse - Gain the services of RUIN, WARs fiery phantom steed, blazing a trail of destruction through enemies across devastated environments
- Graphic Novel Art Style - Joe Madureiras (X-Men, Battle Chasers, The Ultimates) epic comic book-inspired visual art style and captivating original storyline
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Platform: Xbox 360
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Throughout the game you will encounter various enemies and will have diffenent weapons within your arsenal. This is not really based on your own choice but more so necessary, to use certain objects or items successfully. While your trusty sword may be the basic weapon of choice as you progress War, has the abilty to wield scythes, guns and grapple chains. In the case of the grapple chain, this can also be used to get to other places within the map so in affect has two uses.
War, also has powers at his disposal which you can use if you collect enough "wrath." This can be collected through slayling enemies as is the main game currency. This can then be used by talking to the merchant, Vulgrim who will exchange goods naturally. For a price. One of the best parts of Darksiders, would be the epic boss battles. The scale of the various battles as well as the characters you battle are quite staggering. The combat is simple, fun and effective. Sort of in the vein of Heavenly Sword but with added powers and abilities. Mashing enemies to death is fun.
The story in itself is fairly good and interesting throughout. The most pointless character ever may go to "The Seeker." He is essentialy your leash and it would have been good if there was some actual advice or hints you could have been given. Especially with the trickier puzzles later on. Darksiders, does have a great cast of characters though from the burly sounding Scotsman locksmith in Ulthane, to the sinister Samael.
There is something that grates on you after a while and that is the puzzles and a whole lot of back tracking. I'm not the only one to have this view but as well as being utterly monotonous, backtracking seems to be lazy on a developers part. I clocked just over 20 hours in one playthrough but a lot of that was through frustrating at times, irritating puzzles and loads of back tracking.
Graphics 7 Nothing special, some draw distances leave a lot to be desired.
Sound 8 The voice acting is solid. More of a uplifting orchestral soundtrack would be welcome though.
Gameplay 8 Easy to understand and enjoyable.
Lifespan 6 After a single playthrough you'll be happy to have finished, Darksiders. It's unlikely you will go back though unless you're a purist.
Darksiders, is a great idea. Ultimately though it was just flawed in its execution. By no means is this a bad game but it is a rather frustrating one. 6/10. John Mitchell.
With your powers stripped, you stand before the charred council (neither Heaven no Hell) your only masters, and you are sent back to Earth to find out what really happened and why you were summoned. It seems War has been used by someone, as part of a malevolent grand scheme.
Phew, the opening plot is really hard hitting as is the gameplay.
Combat is initially a fairly basic hack and slash affair with a few Superman strength style "pick up a car and throw it" powers on top. However, as you begin to regain your powers, scope for mixing things up combat wise gets more interesting. You also gain new limits of strength into your weapons. It seems most people choose to stick with putting points into their initial sword weapon and specializing.
Another wonderful idea is the contextual manner in which you kill an enemy. If you finish it off with weapon slashes, you will get souls from the body. If it's a weak type of enemy and you finish it with an attack that finishes it immediately (the B button) you get health back. This kind of trade off between type of finisher, giving you health or currency is quite ingenious. If you were fighting a losing battle, I'm sure there's a time that will come up when you'd take health over currency from the additional enemies around the room. When the time comes, that feeling of control over your gameplay balance will be satisfying. This isn't done to a massive effect and the health returns aren't much but every little counts towards this interesting idea.
As the game goes on, the combat encounters become more and more crazy, with the challenge level being ramped up higher. When you encounter a type of enemy that you dread to fight you know you're playing a game to keep you on your toes. When a trap is sprung and two of those enemies plus two of a sort you equally hate to fight appear along with adds (additional enemies) your fingers are about to work overtime, dodging and slashing and concentrating on your technique. Defence in Darksiders is key, more than attack. This is seen in the counter attack option by pressing RB at the last moment as an attack comes in.
Combat wise, I would definitely recommend the harpoon thrust move with your sword. It gives you the move of the direction + RB dash but adds a combat strike to it. You'll be dashing a lot in combat, so why not do it with a pointy weapon sticking out?
You will get the opportunity to regularly visit a shopkeeper and buy new moves and gear. This is done well, with souls as currency.
The entire theme of what they're attempting pays off even in these little elements.
Fights start becoming rather deadly affairs, with enemies doing massive damage to your character, even on the normal difficulty. Truly you are forced to play well to survive, it's as simple as that - mastering when to attack and when to fall back. Luckily you're given a dash dodge option as previously mentioned. With a simple tap of the RB you can be away from the enemy in the direction you pushed the stick. Utilising this manoeuvre though is key to success with Darksiders, lest the swinging arcs of deadly weapons be your downfall.
Again like Zelda, you will have rooms full of enemies to fight at once and not becoming confused with your lock on is also important if you're using it. On a few occasions I did have some trouble telling the lock on focus to focus on the bigger threat because it had moved off screen and to the side. In reality, there's little that can be done to help that, with a game lock on system. You just have to work with it and improve yourself. It isn't all that necessary to be locked on anyway. You can do just fine if you guide your weapon slashes in the right direction. You'll find them rather helpful for thrown items though - again, like Zelda which had the bow and boomerang.
The game delivers a solid, punchy look and feel, with a colourful thematic to graphics, gameplay and dialogue. The Angels and Demons are accomplished works of art, some some of the Demons especially being a feast for the eyes - why do the bad guys always look the coolest?
There's some other really well rendered characters in the game.
Ulthane immediately comes to mind - a vivid memorable character that would be interesting enough to star in his own spin off! His huge features and thick Scottish accent are one thing, but some of the lines he delivers are brilliant! Calling Angels "pigeons" as he fights them helps cement his character's mindset firmly in place for us.
The next statement might surprise some of you. The gameplay itself feels very much like Zelda. Okay, then ENTIRE game feels like Zelda! There I said it. Lock ons for combat, the start screen with a map on it and tabs to take you to other screens of interest (like Zelda again). Of note is the stats screen which shows you the degree of fun Vigil are having with this game, with statistics such as: Number of deaths, Distance Travelled (and the game mis-spelled travelled?), Total Souls Collected, Highest Combos and Demon Blood Spilled (measured in gallons). The latter made me smile and look forward to the prospect of delving deeper into Darksiders.
Another Zelda-like point is the permanent health quarter pieces that when collected as four, make a new bar of health. Then there are areas with inaccessible side routes that require some piece of gear you'll get later and have to return to use. Similar to Batman Arkham Asylum or (there's that name again) Zelda.
You even have a companion with you (The Watcher) who pops out only to give you information and keep an eye on you. The Watcher rarely does anything for you when you summon him manually, mostly just asking "yes?" so it feels a little pointless most of the time.
Then there's the chests that contain maps that reveal the whole dungeon to you, bombs that grow as plants that can be picked and will regrow, revelatory in play music each time you find a way to progress and blocks to push to help open the way on.
The mounted combat feels just like Zelda. You could easily believe you were riding Epona as you slash locked on enemies down with sword strikes and a speed boost meter (which thankfully is not comprised of carrots) - that is if Epona had a fierce demeanour and flaming hooves. Okay, this horse `Ruin' is more fun than Epona. There, I've said that as well now.
So it plays just like Zelda, but the real question you're asking is, "Is it better than Zelda?"
Interesting, well it's certainly better than the more recent Zelda games (better than the Nintendo Wii's Zelda to name one). It's more intense and heat filled in combat. You're more likely to strain an arm muscle in Darksiders than you would in Zelda. Zelda has a bit more of a quieter pace to its story telling, unravelling things in a fantastical magical way that children can enjoy as well. Darksiders is pretty mythical in its own way but lacks a certain element that the best Zelda games have, the degree of character interactions and side projects to undertake. In Zelda you visit towns and villages full of people to interact with. The only people you interact with in Darksiders is `The Watcher' and that doesn't count because he's more like a "Navi" type, Vulgrim who is your Lich-like vendor and that's pretty much it. Anyone else in the world (outside of cut scenes) is there to hack to pieces. That's okay though, Darksiders needs to be different to Zelda in at least a couple of ways, right?
The controls are quite responsive except some of the key double jump/glide manoeuvres that didn't quite come off all the time.
The game's controls are on the edge of almost becoming too complicated. It never steps over that mark, don't worry but you truly are using the entire controller quite a lot of the time. This seemingly more convoluted design actually enriches the playing experience, further adding to the combat tactics available to you. Even at one basic level, the X button makes my sword slash and the Y button makes a different weapon slash. To throw the glaive you find yourself doing a combination of things, sometimes clicking the right stick and throwing manually, sometimes holding LT and clicking the stick then un-clicking to break a selection and re-clicking to make target points appear, if LT is held down...To even go into your other combat form you hold LB and RT. It likes to make you use double the amount of buttons that other games would. But again, this isn't a bad thing. It doesn't hand you a dumb experience, it makes you fight for everything you earn. It really is easy to pick up the controls on the first play session. I wouldn't suggest leaving the game unplayed for too long however (as in weeks); you never know, you might lose some of your edge with this system and have to force yourself to remember on the fly.
That's not to mention the combos you learn from the vendor either, but that sort of thing is standard practice in hack and slash `em ups, so you're probably used to having to retain moves.
Again though, a long period away might find you only losing your edge. The longer you play the game, the more natural the control system feels to you. It's really quite an achievement.
The sound aspect of the game is a high point. You'll find a couple major voice actors in the game. Of note in presence is Mark Hamill playing `The Watcher'. The main character `War' is voiced by Liam O'Brian - a name that might be well known to western "dubbed" `Naruto' anime fans, for he is the voice of `Gaara of the Desert'.
The levels are strategically designed to hinder your progress, making you take side routes. These side routes eventually lead to new ways to traverse the ground you were just on so that you may progress. As such, these "puzzles" are really well concealed which is the best way to go for an immersive experience, the likes of which you'd find in a game like Banjo-Kazooie (arguably N64's best platformer).
I will also give special mention to some of the later game's portals usage. The idea of redirecting beams of light and using in portals to channel them and out portals to re-channel them elsewhere. This idea is expanded upon in some ingenious ways that really get you thinking. The downright deviousness of the puzzles sometimes blows you away. Firing a portal shot through a portal to hit another area to create the outflow end of that portal...and so on. Therefore, on puzzles we actually even surpass Zelda.
The boss battles are memorable, requiring specific techniques to win. Each is beautifully designed, unforgettable and a thrill of accomplishment at the culmination of a build up through that "dungeon". Saying that, they are still a breather compared to some of the enemies you fight getting there!
The save points are worth a mention. When you manually save, it isn't a "true save" (oh and Zelda isn't either) with you instead going back to the nearest checkpoint. A little more consideration for a couple of the checkpoints could have been better planned. For example, when you make your way to the 5th boss, you run down some steps and then take a lift until you get to his room and have to go through an opening with the boss (a degree that is inescapable). The point is, if you happen to die on that boss encounter, you are reloaded at the nearest checkpoint which was back at the top of those stairs. That means down the stairs again, down the lift and sit through the same boss opening just to try and have another go at him. There aren't any enemies to fight on the way to the boss, it's merely travel and therefore it should have been checkpointed at the start of the main fight. A small niggle really, but I do like to be thorough.
I think it's the mark of a great game when every one of my "cons" listed below make me want to add a positive statement to go with it, therefore I even found myself deleting some of them.
With a game this good, I think many of us are about to become "Darksiders", inside our living rooms with controllers in hand.
Pros: The characters looks great, demons look amazing. Mark Hamill (nuff said), every fight is intense and most are challenging, brutal characters and a storyline that shows no mercy, just like Zelda in more ways than can be mentioned.
Cons: The lock on has a range requirement and locking on to foes leaving your field of vision may be a little tricky, "levelling" the other weapons other than the Chaoseater sword seems pointless. The levels themselves look "okay".
Total Score 9.0
Aesthetically this game was appealing. I enjoyed travelling through destroyed cities, vast plains and colossal buildings that were located up above in the skies.
Of course you have you default weapons such a the Chaoseater, but I liked how you obtain a scythe by payment. However that is not the best part.You could use everyday objects such as lampposts and cars to beat your enemies to death. I felt this was a great asset and made the game even as fun as it already was.
Along my travels in Darksiders I met various awesome NPC's. Some that were totally Bad-ass, some that were douchebags and some which were mysterious (i.e. Vulgrim). Azruel (Angel of Death) in particular was well designed and he was and spoke awesome.
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