reviews\ Dec 29, 2009 at 7:00 pm

Darksiders - PS3 - Review

THQ and Vigil Games have delivered a fine action-adventure title to build a franchise around. In a desperate time when the genre is falling on the short side of the stick, Vigil Games went to the drawing board and came up with a fantastic title that draws from many video game classics.

War, the lead character of the action title, is thrust into a conspiracy to have him be the fall guy for the demise of mankind and the start of the apocalypse. Out to clear his name, War must go to extreme lengths to find out the truth and nature of the betrayal.

The story itself wasn’t exactly groundbreaking; it followed the standards of the genre as War battled consecutive bosses who were the key to gaining access to the final boss stage. Each boss had a weakness that War had to exploit, and after numerous rinse and repeat cycles, gain an item to advance to the next boss.

The worst part of Darksiders – the on-rails shooter portion

The linearity wasn’t such a huge concern, though the predictability of the story was. Within the first 30 minutes of Darksiders, the player should come away with a good impression of how the game ends. It’s not a huge issue, but Darksiders doesn’t keep its audience on the edge of their seats the entire game.

On the other hand, Vigil Games did an admirable job with the gameplay and mechanics of Darksiders. War’s arsenal of weapons is varied, his wrath powers are utilized well, the platforming was never to the point of frustration, and the puzzles are a cinch to overcome.

By the end of the title, War will have equipped the following weapons and/or gear: his mighty sword (Chaoseater), a scythe with a long reach, a battle-worn gauntlet (Tremor Gauntlet), carved blow horn (Earthcaller), large pistol (Mercy), throwing blade (Crossblade), and a grappling hook (Abyssal Chain). He also gains the ability to see hidden items (Mask of Shadows) and travel through portals (Voidwalker).

Tiamat is a royal pain

Many of these items are upgradeable and allow for use of new maneuvers after collecting enough souls (in-game currency) to trade for the upgrades. The Chaoseater alone has nine maneuvers to be unlocked with several of them having three upgrades for special attacks. Take into consideration that the scythe and the gauntlet are upgradeable and there’s a world of possibility with the combat. On top of all that, there are weapon enhancements (four “Legendary” enhancements and eight regular) to add to each weapon.

The combat becomes even more diversified when we take into account the ability to collect and store energy for the Wrath Cores. When a Wrath Core is full, players are able to use a special power such as Blade Geyser (deadly blades are summoned for an AoE attack), Stoneskin (War turns into stone for stronger defense and offense), Immolation (War is lit on fire), and Affliction (War releases poison for damage). There are even six more additional passive abilities that are obtained through advancing through the story. War is able to gain an ability to glide with Shadowflight, use his Chaos Form to turn into a monstrous beast, quick travel with Serpent Holes and a few others.

Darksiders is a fantastic adult-themed action-adventure.

In general, Darksiders has enough depth to its combat to keep players impressed for the entire length of the game. Vigil Games continued to throw new enemy types, weapons, gameplay objectives and storyline twists to keep the entertainment always at a high. From the moment players fight the Bat-Queen Tiamat to riding on top of Ruin, War’s phantom steed, to take down the giant worm The Stygian, Darksiders offers a healthy dose of fantastic gameplay options.

In-between the combat and focus on action was platforming and puzzle elements. The platforming was overly simple to the point that all one had to do was look in the room and see their destination to figure out how to get there. There aren’t many complications standing in the way of the gamer to obtain hidden items located throughout the environment.

The puzzle aspects are a little more difficult, but not by much. The game starts out with basic puzzles such as finding a lost item and placing it in its holder or pushing boxes to reach a higher ledge. By the end of the game though, players have tasks such as eliminating all the wardens (enemy type) of Silithia’s (boss) Loom. These battles have players trapped in an environment until all the enemies are defeated. Pretty standard stuff, but all the while never too tedious.

Once War obtains Ruin, the combat eases back a bit

The artistic style of Darksiders takes some time to warm up to since it’s not a title that fits into the “next-gen” glossy look of character models. Instead, Creative Director Joe Mad and the entire team at Vigil Games ran in the entire opposite direction with a more detailed approach that uses a broad range of colors. Not everyone is going to appreciate the finer aspects of Darksider’s art style, but at least everyone should take notice to how much effort the team put into making it look unique.

THQ and Vigil Games did an outstanding job creating an intellectual property that has weight. The voice-acting is top-notch, the combat is exquisite, the replay value is high, and the world they have created is fascinating. Darksiders is a marvelous way to start out 2010.

*Note: The PlayStation 3 version ran better out of the two with fewer problems with the framerates and screen tearing.

Review Scoring Details for Darksiders

Gameplay: 8.5
With the assorted gameplay characteristics, gamers should never become bored with their campaign through Darksiders.

Graphics: 8.5
The framerate in the Abyssal Plains stutters and there were a few times when there was screen tearing. Though, for the most part, Darksiders runs smooth.

Sound: 8.0
Mark Hamill and the voice-cast do a phenomenal job. Sadly, the score is among the worst features of the title – it doesn’t compliment the action or any of the cinematic scenes.

Difficulty: Easy

Concept: 8.0
Not the most original action-adventure since we’ve seen a lot of this before, but Darksiders does a great job at keeping the entire playthrough interesting.

Overall: 8.0
If there’s one title in early 2010 title that needs to be on your “must-buy” list, then adding Darksiders to that list is safe bet.


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