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Game On, Bitches: Darksiders

02.10.2010

DARKSIDERS

Developer: Vigil Games
Publisher: THQ Inc.
Systems: PlayStation 3 and XBOX 360

You are War, one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse and you’re pretty damn pissed. Duped into punching Earth’s ticket prematurely, War is as confused as he is angry when he finds out the seven seals were not broken and that his presence on Earth is being ruled as treason (punishable by death) by the charred council for upsetting the balance. Luckily, War can play hardball and convinces the council to send him back to Earth so he can hunt down the mofos who tried to screw him. The council regrettably agrees, but gives him a sneaky little escort (The Watcher) to keep tabs on him. One hundred years later, with Earth in ruin, War begins his sojourn for vengeance.



One thing I immediately noticed about DARKSIDERS’ gameplay is how similar it is to GOD OF WAR. To be completely honest, this game IS a combination of GOD OF WAR, DEVIL MAY CRY and RESIDENT EVIL with the puzzle scheme of TOMB RAIDER and LEGACY OF KAIN. Before you get the impression that this may be a bad thing, think again as where the aforementioned games lacked in controls, DARKSIDERS has evolved correcting all their mistakes and leaving us with a smooth ride despite the long list of actions in War’s arsenal. There was room for frustration here (and lots of it), but I was sincerely blown away by the ease with which you can pull off War’s moves.



Now speaking of War’s gear, each and every upgrade (think BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM) are found and then implicated in the many puzzles you find throughout. Some require more skill and more thinking outside the box than others, but rest assured you’ll scratch your head in bewilderment more than once. Add to that a fair bit of back tracking to unlock areas you couldn’t reach, and above all else in this game, exploration is key when it comes to progression and secrets. There’s lots to find and lots more to buy with your souls (War’s currency) from Vulgrim the ambitious demon tradesman.

The graphics are a true testament to the PS3’s power and come to life in such wondrous splendor if you’re lucky enough to be playing this game on an HD TV. The characters look a bit more “cartoonish” than the cast of BATMAN ARKHAM ASYLUM, but the visuals are sharp and the detailed in a mature fashion that goes hand in hand with the storyline so that you never once confuse this game for something you’d find in the kids section. Everything from War’s brutal finishing moves (blood and gore aplenty), to each individual symbol on his sword and cool ass shoulder pieces are pristinely detailed. The landscapes are nothing short of spectacular either and the fact that they’re all interactive in some way, shape or form just adds to the flavor.



The story is where it’s at though, and what got me curious about this game in the first place. The writer wrote comic books before this and was always interested in trying his luck with a game. His story is an amazing one, loaded with eccentric characters you can’t get enough of. The intrigue behind the ever changing battle between Heaven and Hell, Angels and Demons goes much deeper than you’d imagine with a clever set of twists and turns that breathe new life into a mythology that’s usually one dimensional (let’s just say the movie LEGION has nothing on this game). DARKSIDERS has a unique take on things and sets the stage for an even grander show than this one (yes, I mean sequels).

Another thing that can’t go unmentioned is the quality of the voice talent. The only thing that makes these characters ten times cooler than they look is how they sound. War’s brought to life by Liam O’Brien (who sounded so damn familiar because I just finished DRAGON AGE which he’s also in), Mark Hamill needs no instruction as The Watcher and a couple other highlights are Phil Lamarr (VAMP from MGS) and super hottie Moon Bloodgood who dawns the wings of the female angel Uriel. Everyone delivers the goods here and my hat is off to all involved as I continue to be impressed by how great games are coming together these days.



The boss battles can get intense, but only until you figure out what to do and then it’s a matter of determination and timing. Each boss tends to have at least two if not three phases which impressed me in the originality category. I love a good boss fight, and yes, they ARE a touch easy if you chose “easy” mode, but they’re by no means pushovers.

At the end of the day you’ll feel like you’ve “played” this game before due to the various titles it borrows from, but with a game like DARKSIDERS it’s all about the ride as told through the ambitious storyline. There are some rather annoying aspects to your journey like figuring out HOW to do some of the things you need to do (it’s not always as straightforward as you’d think), but I like it old school in the way that you have to THINK from time to time instead of mash buttons until something dies or blows up. I have a soft spot for religious overtones so a story about Horsemen, Angels and Demons is right up my alley; that said I think this is a fresh and exciting enough premise to hook just about any gamer. I can’t wait for the next one!

FINAL VERDICT: 9.5 OUT OF 10

Extra Tidbit: I'm an avid sword collector and just found out over the past couple days that War's sword is now up for grabs. Of course, I might wait a bit considering I just dropped seven bills on Frostmourne and the ridiculously overpriced ice shard last week. At least it plugs in and looks really cool when it's lit up.
Source: JoBlo.com

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