Sunday, 29 November 2015

Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition

Oh no. I have to review Darksiders II: Deathinitive Edition without filling the entire page with  terrible jokes. You know, for example:

Who are you?

I am Death.

Oh, sorry. I SAID WHO ARE YOU?

And so on.

Heck, deal with it, they stuck a lame pun in the title themselves. Anyhoo, the Darksiders license was one of the franchises up for grabs when THQ went under during that unnerving period where loads of publishers and developers collapsed. Nordic Games were the ones to buy it, and the first use they’ve made of it is to bring the previous-gen sequel into 2015 with a ‘Deathinitive’ edition. Whereas the first game cast you as War, the second sees you as Death. You see? You see their clever joke now?

The first game pilfered from the Zelda games relentlessly, offering both dungeons and over-world sections; all filled with extremely satisfying combat, huge bosses, and a liberal sprinkling of puzzles. Darksiders II takes this template and expands on it, with the main influence here being modern Prince of Persia rather than Zelda. Therefore, Death – whose long hair and impossibly ripped body gives him the appearance of a goth sex symbol – can (and often will) wallrun, jump from beam to beam above bottomless pits, and climb straight up smooth walls. It’s a flashy traversal system that works very well (most of the time). The sense of freedom it gives you is somewhat deceptive, however; now and again you’ll attempt a jump that should work but doesn’t, because that’s not where the script expects you to go.

The grim reaper’s uncharacteristic athleticism carries over into combat. As pleasingly meaty as in the first game, you can almost feel every thump you deliver to the demonic miscreants. You’ll be dodging and jumping out of the way of attacks like some sort of miserable ninja, and some combos will even see you attack with unwarranted flamboyance. Fights are never a chore; but you’ll have to keep an eye on the loot that you pick up. There are loads of weapons to be had, and they vary in a variety of ways. Not just how easily they can crack heads but also the speed with which you can swing them; and some will buff stats, or have effects such as restoring some health with each kill. Similarly, pieces of stat-imbued armour can be found and equipped to make your badass Death even more badass. 

You’ll also earn XP and level up in the course of doing what Death does best, assigning points to a limited but interesting skill tree. Each point can be used to unlock a new skill or increase the power of one of your current ones. This, combined with the variety of weapons on offer, allows you to customise your playstyle to a certain extent. 

So: what does the current-gen version bring to the table? All DLC for a start, which equates to roughly three hours of extra content, which will bring your total playtime up to 20-25 hours at Normal difficulty. Speaking of difficulty there’s a new highest, though playing it isn’t going to be much fun for any but the most skilled/masochistic of gamers. Graphics have also been improved, as you’d expect – but it’s more of a dusting than a polish. It’s clearly a last-gen game. On top of that, the camera still misbehaves on occasions and, to be honest, the frame rate issues actually seem slightly worse than I remember them.

Despite the technical issues, it’s still a good game with an accomplished fantasy atmosphere. The level of improvement is disappointing; but if you missed this the first time around, it’s sensibly priced and includes all content to boot. Most importantly of all, it’s fun.

Toned Death. 4/5.


Luke Kemp

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