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Video Game Review: ‘Darksiders II’ Offers Death-Dealing Destruction

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CHICAGO – I’ll get right to it. Overall this is one of the best games of 2012. “Darksiders II” has already gotten some very good marks from reviewers and I can’t say I found much to challenge their observations. This is a hugely involving game that offers a massive geography, a whopping 20-hour completion cycle and another few dozen hours for those who want to chase all the side quests. The bottom line is that you will find yourself sinking into this world, involved with the story, and looking forward to the next quest.

HollywoodChicago.com Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0
Video Game Rating: 4.5/5.0

Taking place in the same timeframe as it’s predecessor, “Darksiders II” picks up as War has been convicted of kickstarting the apocalypse ahead of schedule and sent back to Earth as punishment. When the Charred Council tells his brothers Death, Strife, and Fury, Mr. Death becomes determined to prove War’s innocence. Believing a conspiracy is afoot, and ignoring the Council, Death angrily launches out between Heaven and Hell to the Nether Realms to demand favors from the rulers. Strife and Fury play roles here as well but it’s Death at centerstage.

Darksiders II
Darksiders II
Photo credit: THQ

And Death absolutely rocks, my friends. The loot system lets players customize the character quite nicely but whatever the duds and other gear he is one dextrous dude. Unlike War, players will find themselves far more able to dodge and weave, deflecting attacks, etc. Action is constant and the character offers a wide range of skills designed to further immerse you in the fantasy element of the game. In a sense, Death seems almost an extension of the geography, and his Necromancer and Harbinger powers combine almost endlessly with a varied weaponry to take full advantage of the potential for spectacular, battle-based bloodletting.

Darksiders II
Darksiders II
Photo credit: THQ

Make no mistake — there is a heavy element of puzzle-solving here. It won’t be unusual to be asked to perform multiple tasks to get to a specific goal and the various cities the game contains will each lead the player through a number of dungeon environments. The enemies get harder and harder to beat in the process. It would have been enough to make me question whether to keep playing if the thing wasn’t so awesomely immersive. Like any great sequel, this expands on the original in almost every way. Even the combat action, which is repetitive in almost any game, is kept fresh via the constant flow of new weapons, skills sets, and armor pieces that each contain their own combination of magic powers. Finally, the game does a magnificent job of upping the ante. Slowly but surely everything about “Darksiders II” gets harder and harder.

A minor complaint here would be the sound. It just doesn’t match up to the insane level of the visuals, seeming a bit too generic to add as much to the mix as it should. Framerate is also an occasional problem here but is hardly a spoiler. It’s one of the few cons you’ll barely notice as the story unfolds. At it’s heart, and it does have some, is a melodramatic but still compelling take on filial obligation and honor. It’s one of the that things fantasy gamers will like most about this game. It embraces the genre as more than just a platform for carnage. Of course, there is carnage a plenty. What else would you expect from a game that utilizes a giant scythe?

Extra content hits thirty days from street and will no doubt be well worth the time of anyone who finds this game enjoyable. Scratch enjoyable. If you are a fantasy gamer, or even just a run-of-the-mill combat rat you should enjoy the hell out of this mythical masterpiece. “Darksiders II” is a game that embraces where its predecessor comes from, where gaming in general is headed, and that incredible headspace that can take the human hunger for story through Heaven, Hell, and all points along the way.

“Darksiders II” was developed by Vigil Games and published by THQ. It is rated M (Mature). The version reviewed was for the Xbox 360 but the title is also available for the PS3 and PC. It was released on August 14, 2012.

By Dave Canfield
Staff Writer

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