STAFF REVIEW of Darksiders (Xbox 360)

Monday, January 11, 2010.
by Stephen Cameron

Darksiders Box art I introduce you, the first game of 2010; Darksiders. Something interesting has happened this year though. Most of the publishers have all held off releasing their epic titles after the holidays. Why? Because of a little game called Call of Duty. These are dreadfully big shoes to fill, and a gutsy move to say the least. Also keep in mind that THQ wasn?t the only one, others followed suit. So, you end up with a mad rush of games after Christmas, and the lineup is quite long. It?s the first of its kind since I?ve been running

Much to my surprise, not a whole lot of knowledge existed out there for the game. Why? Is it bad marketing? No. I think I understand why though. The game is so many things, that you can?t say it?s ?blank?. Vigil Games and THQ are really treading new ground here.

In Darksiders, you play the ?excessively large body with a small head? guy called War, he is essentially one of the four horsemen. The journey begins with the earth being ripped a new one, and as much as this is all cool?it?s a little too early. Now, it?s your job to figure out what happened. You quickly discover that it?s one big fat conspiracy going on between heaven and hell, and you?re somehow stuck in the mix.

Since it was mostly your fault that earth was blasted a little too soon, you are resent back down to earth stripped of your arsenal of divine powers. But, as you quickly discover there?s absolutely nothing left on earth. Everyone is dead, the buildings are completely unlivable. Essentially?it?s a massive wasteland. Your primary goal is to figure what the heck happened and prove your innocence by kicking some ass and taking names. As you adventure through the game, you witness these conflicts between the angels and the demons and most importantly, that?s how the story is pushed along. You clearly see what?s going on with this complex situation; oh and, they all want you dead.

Alright, I?m not going to sit here and spoil the story for you here, but if you?re thinking for one second you are going to finish Darksiders in a six to eight hour time frame, you're kidding yourself. Be prepared to be immersed into a movie quality storyline. There? I said it. They should take this story and make a movie. There are so many sub-plots such as demons pissed at each other. People love to watch stuff like that.

The mechanics and gameplay of the game remind me of several different ones actually, the main being Maximo; originally released for the PS2 by Capcom. But my simpler description or mix rather, is comprised of these titles?.there?s s a little Tomb Raider for the adventure, environmental puzzle solving, a little World of Warcraft for the RPG and quest (without the yellow exclamation marks) elements, and finally a little of Lost Planet for the ?larger than life? boss battles -- and if you bring your nose up to it you?ll smell a hint of God of War. This carefully mixed recipe of game ideas, and the icing of a good storyline make for a very unique and fun gaming experience, and I love unique.

As you progress through the game, you land weapon skill upgrades, hence kicking more butt. The control scheme is actually quite intuitive. It?s fast and furious. Let me warn you that you are going to do a lot of monster killing.
War?s weapons are probably the most impressive I?ve seen in more recent times. Mustering through on what seems to be an endless sea on combo moves, can prove to be quite the challenge. The game teeters on being a button masher, now I like button mashers, they make me look good! But, I have one pet peeve, why is the Right Button (RB) the dash and block move? Who knows.

Throughout the game, I came across quite a few ?WOW? moments, but the one that stood out was the one scene that you end up in a subway area, and this huge worm-like monster grabs a complete subway car, and tries to pull it into this smaller hole on the side of the level, very cool animation sequence!

On the difficulty side of things, the game is tough. Not in a bad way. Hell, I?ve been playing on the ?Apocalyptic? (The hardest) setting, and let me tell you, it?s quite the challenge. Batman Arkham Asylum?s hardest setting wasn?t near as hard; this is hard. I would strongly recommend playing on the easy or normal setting at first. As I was playing through the game, I couldn?t shake this nagging notion in the back on my mind. I kept asking myself the same question??Did I choose the right moves (or combos) to purchase from Vulgrim ?? After several hours, I discovered that it all worked out in the end. The more monsters you slay, the more soul credits you obtain. The only tip I can give is buy powers or power-ups that suit your playing style. Period.

Overall the gameplay of Darksiders shines of a very polished experience, not many complains here. It?s like an itch?you gotta go back and scratch that itch!

Graphically, everything looks incredible beside the fact of a bit of tearing while looking around (I?m assuming it?s an engine thing); mind you it?s not a game killer, but it does get increasingly annoying. Environments, textures, and character models all look top notch!

In the sound department, the in game musical score totally suited every moment of the game. I?m not an audiophile or anything?the sound did its job, it immersed you into the story depending of which scene was on screen, accenting all the mood and encounters. Very well done.

Overall, Darksiders has a crap ton of content, and it has quickly become a new and exciting intellectual property for THQ. Also, if you?ve got kids, make sure they are in bed when you pop this puppy in. If the rest of 2010?s game lineup looks anything like Darksiders, it?s going to be a damn good year! Highly recommended, don?t let this one slip under your radar. Can?t wait to see Darksiders 2!

Overall: 8.6 / 10
Gameplay: 8.7 / 10
Visuals: 8.4 / 10
Sound: 8.8 / 10


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