Darksiders II


posted 1/25/2012 by Russell Archey
other articles by Russell Archey
Platforms: Multiple
I’ll admit, I never had the chance to fully play through Darksiders, mainly because when my roommate moved out to live with his fiancé, he took his Xbox 360 with him. Trust me, it makes sense. As such, my total play time with Darksiders was only about an hour or two, not nearly enough time to fully explore the game. When the opportunity came up to fly out to San Francisco courtesy of THQ to check out a preview of Darksiders II, I jumped at the chance to go, because while I myself haven’t completed the game, I’ve watched my roommate go through enough of it to know that it’s an amazing game, and I’d love to see how THQ could top it. From what I saw at the event, THQ didnt disappoint.

The event started off with a bit of a history of Death, including the different personifications of Death over the years. The presentation was pretty good, and even funny at times, but after that was when the fun really began, as they did a live presentation and demo of the game thus far. The presentation of the game itself consisted of a staff member playing through two dungeons; one of them full of lava and fire while the other was kind of an outdoor-type area. The first thing we were told about the fire dungeon was that it was just a side dungeon and not required to beat the game. Yes, Darksiders II will have side quests that aren’t required to be completed unless you want to, and we were told that the game will have more than twenty hours of gameplay. I’m guessing that includes the side quests and dungeons. The presentation of the dungeons, especially the fire dungeon, gave them the chance to show off what all Death could do. The dungeons also showed off the graphics, which look pretty good thus far.

For starters, veterans of the original Darksiders will notice quite a bit of a difference in gameplay between War and Death. While War was more of a straightforward, charging type of character who was more likely to power his way through obstacles, Death is a more nimble and agile character. For instance, Death will have the abilities to run along walls and beams, similar to games like Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. While these two skills will be used quite a bit throughout the game (in fact, they were used a lot just in the fire dungeon alone), there’s another ability that you can use to traverse tricky terrain: Ghost Hand. This can actually be used in and out of combat. Outside of combat, Ghost Hand can be used on certain fixtures to pull Death towards walls and such, helping him climb tricky terrain. In combat, Death can use Ghost Hand to pull smaller enemies towards him, which knocks down the enemy for a short period of time, or to actually pull himself towards larger enemies, such as bosses, and get in some quick attacks and combos. This was shown against the fire dungeon’s mini-boss, and looked to be quite effective.

Speaking of combat, Death controls and attacks quite differently than War did in the original game. For starters, Death can use his agility to evade tacks, mainly because he is unable to block attacks. I like this tradeoff, as I’d rather just get in an enemy’s face and take them out as fast as I can. Death’s main weapons are his twin scythes that can change shape during combos, and at some points even joining together to form a single polearm-type weapon. However, Death can even pick up secondary weapons to use such as a hammer or claws that can easily combo into his scythes for even more damage and longer combos. Death is also able to use spells, which I’ll get to in a moment, and also has something called Reaper Form. The two ways that Death can make use of this in combat is through Reaper Attacks, which are relatively quick attacks that Death can make where portions of the reaper form can be seen in the combo, and Reaper Transformation, earned when players spend six skill points (which I’ll also get into in a moment). Players can fill a Reaper Meter and change into Reaper form to cause massive damage to many enemies, but the time you can stay in Reaper Form is very limited.

So I’ve mentioned two things above that I said I’d get back to: spells and skill points. Darksiders II has quite a bit of customization to it with armor and skill trees. For armor, you can use Slayer, Necromancer, and Wanderer armor sets, each useful in different situations. For instance, Slayer is useful for offense, while Necromancer is good for spells. Speaking of spells, you also have two skill trees that you can put skill points into: Harbinger and Necromancer. As you put skill points into these trees, you can open up new skills and spells to use. Two of these were shown off during the presentation. Exhume is a spell from the Necromancer tree that can summon zombies to fight for Death (they looked more like skeletons, but maybe they were skeleton zombies), while Murder (also a Necro spell) summoned a flock of ravens to attack enemies. While each raven doesn’t do much damage on its own, having a bunch attack one single enemy can come in handy, especially when this was demonstrated against a mid-boss. Summon zombies, summon ravens, stand back, and watch the chaos commence.

While the event itself was pretty fun and entertaining, my only real complaint (other than the loud music they played during the after-presentation party) was the lack of a hands-on demo. Back in October when I checked out WWE ’12, we were able to go hands-on with the game and check out everything it had to offer. Then again, WWE ’12 at the time was a month away from release, so we were playing the final build, whereas Darksiders II isn’t slated to come out until this summer. Still, the fact that they had two dungeons to show off, you’d think that we’d be able to play it a bit ourselves. While talking to another writer, we both agreed that it’s hard to give an impression of a game in which we see it in action, but we can’t play it ourselves yet. However, everything I’ve seen thus far looks amazing, and while I never had the chance to fully play thought the original Darksiders, I’m definitely looking forward to this summer when Death lives and Darksiders II hits the Xbox 360, PS3, PC, and Wii U.
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