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Darksiders II Preview

by on January 26, 2012
 

Darksiders II is the follow up to the hit game Darksiders, in which you played one of the four horseman of the apocalypse, War, who was trying to clear his name after being accused of setting off Armageddon. The upcoming sequel to the original game takes place during the same time as the origina,l but on a parallel path during which you take control of perhaps the most feared horseman of them all, Death, who is trying to clear his brothers name.

Now Death and War look nothing alike so you have to imagine they don’t share both parents in common and if not which one do they have in common and maybe it’s more a blood brothers things which is kinda weird but I digress.You will become the terrifying force which everything fears but nothing can escape (I wonder what their mother looks like).

Many gamers felt that the original Darksiders suffered from a lack of content and that the world felt too small. It seems the developers at Vigil games heard their critiques and took them to heart when crafting this ambitious sequel. The game has well over 20 hours of game play, with massive dungeons and side-quests that will keep you playing for days if not weeks. They overhauled the arts and graphics making them even more stunning and eye popping then before, and also brought a whole new level of customization to the game, whether its the character of Death himself or how you play him, Darksiders II is all about customization.

The customization of the game is a new feature the developers are hoping will draw you in. And after spending some time looking at and getting a feel for the game I can tell you it is deep and varied, yet easy enough to use that a first time player or a hardcore RPG fan will feel right at home using the system.

Death himself has three armor sets: Slayer which is combat oriented, Wanderer which is movement and traversal oriented and Necromancer which is more magic oriented. Not to mention the two new skill trees you’ll have access to, Harbinger and Necromancer, which are combat and magic oriented, giving the player a whole new way to play the game.

Now earlier above I mentioned traversal, which is another new feature of the series. Where War, the protaganist from the first game was a more straightforward charging type who was more likely to bull through obstacles in his path, Death is a more nimble and agile character. First off he can Wall Run, alot like Prince of Persia, the way this was explained to me is when players jump onto a wall at an angle, Death performs a wall run move that carries him a set distance. Wall runs can be chained together, which allows the player to traverse down a narrow hallway by performing the move between walls.

He also has a new move called Ghost Hand, which is perhaps his most flashy feature and the most shown at the demo I attended. When Death acquires this ability it allows him to hook onto attachments scattered throughout the environments and pull himself toward them. Death can jump off these objects, and chain together the Ghost hand with other moves or another Ghost hand throw. Very similar, no doubt to the chainshot from Legend of Zelda.

That is part of the alure of this series it’s like a weird amalgam of Legend of Zelda and God of War and that is not bad thing at all. People, however are always trying to find a way to criticize that the games are too similar, but lets be honest, they kind of perfected 3rd person action adventure titles and when you are making a 3rd person action adventure title you will always want to be compared to the best.

The combat in Darksiders II has also been overhauled. As with its predecessor, combat is meant to be fast and fluid, rewarding those players who learn all the ins and outs of the system. With the ability to effortlessly switch between weapons, manuevers, ablilities and combos – you’ll rack up high combo counts and lay waste in devastating new ways to any and all enemies that attack you.

Unlike War, Death is not able to block. Instead he dodges attacks. Death can dodge in any direction and this is used to close small gaps between enemies and himself.

Death’s main weapons throughout the game are his dual scythes. The weapons changes shape as you progress through combos of attacks, at times joining together to form a single pole-arm-type weapon. They can even function as a boomerang; throwing them a short distance and then having them return. I mean, honestly you cannot have a character named Death without Scythes though he also seems to be packing some heat, I wonder if hes a glock man or smith and wesson,- I keep digressing I apologize.-

There were two secondary weapons shown at the demo a set of claws which are used for lower damage but ultra fast melee attacks and a massive hammer, which is used for slower attacks but massive damage, which ones you choose are up to you but used in combo with the scythes can be chained together for devastating combos that leave the enemies in pieces.

There are two ways to make use of Deaths Reaper form in combat. Option one is relatively straightforward: there are quick attacks that Death can make as part of a combo where portions of the reaper form can be seen. The second and the more deadly is the Reaper Transformation which is earned automatically when the player spends a certain amount of skill points. At this point players can fully change into Reaper form but only after they fill they Reaper meter showing on the screen. This form is very powerful, and able to cause massive damage to many enemies, but the time is limited and the meter drains quickly. Again, a comparison can be made to any number of games be it  the devil trigger in DMC or Kratos’ Rage mode, and again, I say this is good, it’s familiar, it’s comfortable and really easy to understand.

Death can gain a ton of new spells and abilities. Everything from calling up a horde of exploding zombies, to a swarm of bats, to cloaking himself in necrotic energy that damages anything that comes too near. These abilities and spells can become even more powerful then Death’s weapon attacks if you choose to focus on them, making death, in a way, a more mage-like character. Which is a step up from the first game which basically had you play down a linear path, THQ and Vigil are really giving you options and making this a game that you play your way.

All in all it looks like Darksiders II is still retaining the original world and spirit that made the first game such a smash hit, while addressing the major concerns that players had thus making the whole experience a more well rounded and thought out game. I for one was extremely excited with all the improvements I saw and, despite how new it was, it still had a familiar feel, a lot like coming home after your first year at college. I cannot wait to get my hands on Darksiders II and frankly neither should you.

 

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