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Xbox Games with Gold Review: Darksiders 2

Yours for free (assuming you have Xbox Live Gold) through Halloween night is Darksiders 2, a hack-n-slash RPG 3rd-person adventure game that puts you in control of the the horseman (as in “of the apocalypse”) Death as he fights to free his brother War from a punishment incurred after he (War) killed humanity.  That’s right…all of it, er, us.

Basic Gameplay

Darksiders 2 borrows much very obviously from several solid titles.  From The Legend of Zelda (specifically Ocarina of Time) you’ll recognize vine-y wall climbing, dungeons replete with puzzles, and a horse that comes at your will.  And about that horse: In Zelda, I understood Epona having the little carrot stamina bar, but I don’t understand why my undead horse, Despair, has one…

 

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The fighting mechanics are very reminiscent of God of War, though with not nearly the depth of combos that came with that game. In fact, during the course of my 6+ hour investment, I bought one combo upgrade and have basically resolved to spend my gold on other things.

From Prince of Persia you get some of the wonderful wall-scaling and -running mechanics.  They feel just as good, too.  In fact, I felt much more agile clinging to the walls than I did on two feet or on Despair, which kinda stunk.

Darksiders 2 does an okay job at being an adventure game, an okay job at being a hack-n-slash, and an okay job at being an RPG.  While it doesn’t excel at any one of them in my opinion, it does a good enough job that the game is easy to pick up, play, and enjoy with next-to-no learning curve.

Pros

  • Loot serves more than the usual two purposes of replacing what you’ve got or being sold in exchange for currency.  If you find or earn a possessed weapon, you can sacrifice items to it and beef it up big time – even adding attributes not originally applied to the weapon.
  • The game does a pretty solid job of rewarding exploration.  Checking the nooks and crannies and occasionally looking up or taking a swim is usually rewarded with a chest full of items or Boatman’s Coins, a unique currency that the haunting shopkeeper Vulgrim accepts for wares.
  • The mini map tells you where all chests in the area can be found which is just awesome.  You have to figure out how to reach them, but having them marked on the map cuts down on so much of the,  “Wait…now that I have this item, where was that chest again?”
  • Maybe my favorite pro:  The dialogue doesn’t drag because you can *gasp* select your next line of inquiry while the NPC you’re talking to finishes up his lines.  Its almost as if the designers wanted you to feel like you were Death and not Death-reading-cue-cards-one-at-a-time.  That is genius.

 

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Cons

  • If you’re on your two feet, you have one speed and it is not fast.  You have this pseudo-jogging gait that makes navigating the areas in which you cannot summon Despair tedious.
  • The camera is frustrating during fights if you’re engaged by more than one enemy.  You can lock-on to individuals, but trying to do that and survey the rest of the surroundings and enemies for tactical reasons is rough.
  • The combo system and RPG elements are there, but they’re pretty shallow.  Nothing to sink your teeth into really.
  • For a next-gen console game, the graphics are “meh.”  Nothing impressive, and some textures – particularly environmental ones – can be very flat and boring.  I mean, just look at the “bushes” in the picture of Despair at the top of the page.

Darksiders 2 is not the best Xbox game ever, but it is pretty decent.  I reaped (Get it?  Reaped?!) more than enough enjoyment during my grace hours to see the game through to the end.  Overall, yeah, I’d say this one is worth the hard drive space – even at the sizable 7.15 gigs.  Of course, I have a 250 gig model, so download at your discretion!

 

6 out of 8 nerds

 

I give it 6 out of 8 nerds.