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User Review : Darksiders: Wrath of War

Ups
  • Puzzles{Art style{Voice acting and music
Downs
  • Pacing of combat{Unresponsive controls{Awkward collision detection

Darksiders doesn't try to hide the ideas it borrows from other games, it also doesn't hide how well

If you've been keeping an eye on this game, you already know a good deal about how original Darksiders is, or to say, isn't. Darksiders is one of those games that doesn't stray far from the beaten path, but unlike many games it also never stumbles while on this path.

To start, as said, Darksiders brings very little to the table in terms of new ideas. But the execution of the ideas it brings are top notch. The developers have seen what works and put it all into Darksiders and did a fine job of doing so. All of the gameplay elements flow nicely and together they craft an enjoyable game well worth your investment. This is one of those games that is a jack of all trades. Its the best at nothing, but all of its combined elements bring it together to make a great game. This is what I truly appreciated most about Darksiders. Now let's get into each of those elements.

Combat is the big focus here, as with any action game. Unfortunately, I feel this is Darksiders' weakest aspect. While there is a plethora of weaponry and some gruesomely satisfying moves, you'll start to feel its a bit stale towards the end of the game. Many enemies can be defeated without much thought about combos or weapon switching, making the game come off as a bit of a button masher. Don't let that deter you, however. Combat is still very much enjoyable, flowing pretty well and being very pleasing to watch. War has a respectable arsenal of moves at his disposal and several different finishing moves depending on the type of enemy and their location. The amount of weaponry given to you is also worth a nod of respect. War is armed to the teeth. Not only does he have his sword, Chaoseater, but he also can acquire weapons such as a scythe, gun, and bladed boomerang. Mixing up combat with the use of these different weapons (and more) can provide some much needed variety, if no extra challenge.

The strongest aspect in Darksiders is the dungeons. Without any doubt. Much to my surprise, puzzles in Darksiders will put your brain to use, rather than your reflexes. Having to stop and think on how to solve a puzzle makes Darksiders stand out amongst other action games. Dungeons also provide a great deal of longevity, sometimes taking well over 2 hours to complete a single dungeon. You'll be spending most of your time in these while you play Darksiders, and with how well presented and designed the dungeons are, that's hardly a bad thing.

Story takes a backseat in Darksiders. Or at least, it probably should. Its pretty much your standard fare for action games here. Nothing exceptional or memorable about the storyline. Though it should be noted some of the writing is actually quite enjoyable. Most of the voice actors also put forth a good presentation for their parts as well, making the characters a little more likable. The story of the game won't make you think, but if you're looking for an action game, this is probably nothing new to you and won't deter most fans of the genre.

Graphically, Darksiders leaves a little to be desired. Some clipping issues and seemingly lazy collision detection (War can float on certain textures, apparently) break the immersion of the game a bit. There's nothing horrible to the technical aspect of Darksiders, but there is certainly some room for improvement. On the artistic side, I found myself liking the style of Darksiders. It very much seems to be straight out of a comic book and if you're into that style, Darksiders' look will appeal to you. The game's cover may be deceiving, the game isn't as gritty as the cover art would imply. But again, if you like comic book art style this is right up your alley.

As mentioned, voice actors do a good job playing their parts in Darksiders. The musical score should also be given a respectful nod. The music perfectly fits the scene, whether its the Apocalypse itself, a barren wasteland, or a desperate struggle with a giant demon. Sound effects also are used to great effect, giving the wasteland a lonely feel, or giving War's attacks the feel of being truly brutal and powerful.

War is also a very multi-talented Horseman. Over the course of the game he gains numerous abilities such as gliding and turning into a super-powered Chaos Form. Luckily, all of War's abilities are used creatively and add a layer of depth to the game that makes it stand out above some games in the genre.

On the downside, Darksiders' controls suffer. War will many times interpret you pressing the X button to mean "Walk straight forward and fall into the lava" instead of "jump". While its a very minor complaint, it is unfortunately very prevalent. There were times I found myself pressing X early so that War would jump instead of walking off the edge. It doesn't bring down the game much, but its a flaw too obvious to ignore. Some of the controls are also too complicated for their own good (Holding down multiple triggers and pressing a face button in the middle of a fight to heal yourself, for example). The dodge mechanics also come off as a little unpolished, with War most often not dodging in the proper direction or getting "stuck" on an enemy. The cooldown seems a bit long as well, considering many enemies have an attack range that extends past the distance War can dodge. Lastly, dodging and blocking are done with the same button. In an intense fight, this can become a little irritating, though its still a minor complaint.

All in all, Darksiders is a good package. What it brings to the table may not be new, but it does everything so well that its hard to ignore the quality of the game. It may be the Apocalypse, but it's truly a great way to kick off 2010.

Score
8.4
Graphics
Some issues with the unresponsive controls and "button mashy" pacing of the combat drag the game down a bit, but the puzzles make up for it.
8.6
Sound
Great art style, limited slightly by the technical side of graphics.
9.0
Gameplay
Great voice acting, great music, great weapon sounds. All around excellent sound design.
8.5
Fun Factor
A solidly built game that anyone should enjoy, really. Nothing flawless, but a great game the same.
Overall
8.3
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