Darksiders II Gameplay Impressions

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It isn’t very often that you see a company take a different direction with a sequel, much less focus on a totally unique character that’s set far apart from the first.  But, hey, it’s been done before, and quite successfully – just look at the Grand Theft Auto games.  This summer, THQ and Vigil Studios will show us a completely diverse horseman with Darksiders II, and we got a brief look at what to expect with Death behind the wheel.

darksiders II

The events take place after the first game, with War, the original game’s hero, being blamed for the events that led to the apocalypse.  Never one to stand idly by while his fellow Horseman gets blamed, Death decides to take matters into his own hands, traversing into the underworld – and across further reaches of the universe – in an effort to clear War’s name.  The quest, though, is hardly easy, even for such a menacing figure.

While some parts of the story are still under wraps, Vigil did make it known that the gameplay would be quite familiar to fans of the original Darksiders, while throwing in the recognizable mechanics that would be associated with Death.  So something old, something new – a perfect balance for a sequel, wouldn’t you say?

First, let’s talk combat.  Rather than pack an enormous throwing star like War did, Death relies heavily on gun power.  He’ll use a pistol as part of his juggling attacks, and while you may think that territory has already been covered by Dante from the Devil May Cry series, Death makes it feel suited to his specifics, with a bit more power behind each bullet he fires.

Besides, he’s not all about gunplay.  He has a couple of abilities that prove useful in combat, namely his weapons.  He can either dual wield his tools of the trade – such as nasty-looking scythes to carve up enemies in multiple-hit combos – or he can combine them together into one massive weapon, dishing out even more damage, even if the attacks come slower.  Over the course of the game, you’ll be able to decide which style works better for you.

Death also likes to get a hold of things, so he utilizes a “grip” power, which is not only suitable for reaching higher-up ledges and getting around (think of it as the equivalent of a chain whip, but way cooler looking), but also for grabbing smaller enemies so he can start his attacks much more quickly.  We saw the development team put together a few combos using all these techniques, starting off with a grip, leading into some fierce up-close attacks, followed by a juggle, a few shots of the pistol and, finally, a fatal strike to bust them into pieces.  Very cool stuff.

We did manage to see one of the levels featured in the game, an underground temple with lava flowing throughout.  This is just one mild part of the underworld theme that will really expand in the sequel, with much larger levels and bigger, badder Nosses (as Vigil refers to them, for Not Bosses) than ever before.  We only caught a small glimpse of the enemies featured, fire demons that crumbled with ease by Death’s hand, but they really show the work that Joe Maduriera and his team have put into the sequel to diversify it.

darksiders II

Sadly, the impressions were all too brief, comprised of some quick gameplay footage with no hands-on time, and not too much audio.  (We didn’t get to hear Michael Wincott do his thing with the slick Death voice.)  Regardless, the segment looked very striking, in a recognizable tone with the original game, but with traits all its own.  We’ll be getting hands-on with it down the road, over the next few months.

We won’t have to wait long for Death to take a holiday, as Darksiders II is set to make its debut this summer for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, with releases following later on in the year for PC and the Wii U.  Judging by the brief but radiant footage we’ve seen thus far, it’s definitely a sequel worth checking out.  Look for more information soon, leading to the eventual review.

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Robert Workman
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