Heaven & Hell – Darksiders II Preview
Recently I had the chance to go hands-on with a nice chunk of Darksiders 2. THQ seem be putting a lot of emphasis on the game, what with their new strategy of focussing on a few big titles after their financial woes over the last few months. It will be interesting to see if that strategy pays off.
Darksiders 2 is of course the sequel to Darksiders that was released in early 2010 to a luke warm reception, even though there were some pretty good reviews for it. In the two years since Darksiders’ release it seems everyone has played it at one point or another, except for me. I only picked it up when I knew I would be heading to see the sequel and I was pleasantly surprised. I don’t really like using direct comparisons but I’m going to anyway; it reminded me of God of War without the budget and a much better storyline.
So step forward Darksiders 2, whose story runs alongside that of it’s predecessor telling the tale of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, with Death taking the leading role here (instead of War from the first game). Death is out to try and clear the name of War who was blamed for starting the Apocalypse early. Now, I thought I knew what to expect when I walked in to play Darksiders 2; more of the same as the first with a new lead character, maybe some new weapons, enemies and a polish of the graphics. I was wrong in both a good way and a bad way. Let me take you on a little journey to explain my thoughts of Darksiders 2 in a little section I am going to call “Darksiders 2: Heaven & Hell”.
Darksiders 2 Heaven
I mentioned that the story in the original game was pretty darn good – Darksiders 2 carries on the tradition. From the few hours I played the story was far more interesting than most games of a similar ilk. Not only do you have the main overarching storyline of Death trying to help prove War’s innocence, but there are also lots of side stories going on. It’s a lot deeper than I thought it was going to be and for this I am glad. When you are spending quite a bit of time hacking and slashing away at enemies it is nice to have a reason to do it.
Darksiders 2 Hell
Put simply sequels usually look better in nearly every way. The whole point of a sequel is to try and improve on everything you did in the previous version in some way. It doesn’t always have to be in leaps and bounds but there has to be some kind of improvement. Unfortunately for Darksiders 2 it doesn’t seem to be the case – I was surprised generally just how ugly it looked. Lots of jagged edges and clipping issues dogged my time with the game. Though I was playing a build from much earlier this year so hopefully it has been polished up to what’s expected by launch.
Darksiders 2 Heaven
But we all know graphics aren’t the be all and end all of a game, at least we should do. If a game is fun, does it matter if there are some graphical oversights? Not always – thankfully Darksiders 2 is a fun game. It blends third-person hack and slash with a slightly more open world RPG; think of the afformentioned God of War mixed with Kingdoms of Amalur and you pretty much get Darksiders 2… except with Death riding his horse to mess folk up. It really is interesting that there is a more open feel to this game; large HUB towns surround more open areas that you are free to explore and level Death up to help unlock new abilities. Loot drops from enemies and you can tailor your armour and your weapons.
The weapon tailoring is actually pretty good; as enemies drop weapons you can choose which to have in your secondary slot (Death always uses his patented Scythe). This can range from heavy axes and hammers with a slow swing rate but high damage to quick close-combat daggers and gloves. It certainly helps mix the experience up.
Darksiders 2 Hell
So it’s currently 2-1 to Heaven, but Hell is about to equal the score. The camera at times really didn’t make it easy for you during battle. There is a really nice skill tree where you level Death up; one side is more combat based and the other is a necromancer based summoning style. I wanted to give the summoning a go and as I was fighting I could call forth two little beasts to help me in my fight. The problem I found with this was that the camera was just too tight in behind Death so I couldn’t really see what was going on when there were a few people on screen. I just kept hammering away at the attack button until I won.
This hopefully could be something that is easier to rectify before launch and would certainly make combat even more fun…
Darksiders 2 Heaven
… Which brings me on to my final point. Combat in Darksiders 2 is great fun (when you can see it). With a seamless mix between Scythe attacks, secondary weapon attacks and some magical attacks you can throw together some fantastic combos dispatching of the toughest enemies. I didn’t find myself overly relying on a certain button combo like I do in other games of this ilk. There’s also horse combat which is pretty simple, but there is a horse… and as Ryan pointed out we all know how great games have an awesome horse in them.
That concludes our little trip to Darksiders 2 Heaven and Hell. As you can see the game has a few issues but under those issues there is, what I think, going to be a solid game that will be fun to play and have a great story in some interesting worlds. Darksiders 2 is going to be released on 21st August so hopefully my minor niggles with the graphical quality and the camera will be tinkered with slightly. I’ll look forward to playing through the whole game to see what the whole experience can bring to the table and be sure to keep an eye out for our review.