Are you a gamer who's looking for a title to tide you over until the God of War III, an avid Zelda fan starving for puzzles to solve, or a fan of Joe Madureira's art? Then look no further than the completely adequate Action/Adventure that is Vivid Game's 'Darksiders'.





The game begins in the seemingly normal present until all hell breaks loose, literally. Fire rains from the heavens, angels and demons clash, and human bystanders are crushed and maimed in the chaos. Clearly the apocalypse is nigh, but the player is quickly informed that Abaddon and the Dark Prince may have shot their wad a little prematurely. You take control of War, one of the renamed horsemen of the apocalypse, sent to earth to bring order to the scorched battlefield. He however is confronted and defeated by Straga, one of 'The Destroyer's' chosen and is promptly teleported back to the chins of his employers, The Charred Council. According to the games slightly skewed lore, the Charred Council came into to existence to bring balance to the ever warring factions of heaven and hell. 'Balance' by their definition meant that they unleashed the four horsemen to kill parties on both sides until a truce of sorts was formed. It is at this time that the third party, being humans, came to be, and it was decided by the Council that these three factions would all face off in a battle royale at the end of days. Seven seals were put in place to prevent this war until time deemed it correct.




What we learn now is that the seventh seal was not broken, and thus the apocalypse should not have started. War, confused, inquires to why he was summoned if the seal is still intact, and why only he of the four was called to earth. Faced with impending death, War offers to get to the bottom of the high tier conspiracy stating, "If I do not find who did this, then the demons will have carried out your sentence for you," or some such 'badassery'. You are sent back to earth, but not alone, the Council's 'watcher' accompanies you, voiced by one time Jedi, full time Joker, Mark Hamill. Time passed quickly as you were in limbo and it is now 100 years in the future. The humans are dead (or zombies) and hell has inherited the earth.




Upon 5 minutes of playing Darksiders you see the glaring similarities in hack-n-slash gameplay to titles like God of War and the later Devil May Crys. What you'll come to understand soon after is that Darksiders manages, quite well, to hold it's own ground. The game is structured as an open world to an extent, with the player being limited to certain areas until items are acquired or side quests fulfilled. Not to beat what is soon to be a dead horse, but alot like a post-apocalyptic Hyrule and for lack of a better way to just come out and say it, this game borrows heavy from The Legend of Zelda series while never directly ripping it off. Where this game was doomed from the start is that it was released on the same day as (the soon to be reviewed) 'Bayonetta'. While Darksiders has much more to offer on the adventure varied gameplay side of things, both games have the label of hack-n-slash action, and Bayonetta just simply has more hype.

The meat of the game consists of gathering the hearts of The Destroyer's chosen to feed to Samael, who promises in turn to get you to the Black Tower and one step closer to your revenge on Straga and friends. You are then met with an hour long temple consisting of puzzles solved via a "portal gun" gauntlet (Spoilers: The cake may or may not be a lie), an end of game fetch quest (that only takes like 15 minutes, suck it up Gametrailers), and a final showdown with hell's finest.

The formula of dungeon, new item, beat huge boss with said item, open path to next temple, is one that we've all seen before and is very much present here. Some of the items you happen across are actually pretty neat, or genre staples, such as a grapple-like hookshot, a glaive, a fiery steed, and strangely enough a cool looking gun that will you quickly find is next to useless (even with the purchasable damage upgrade). You can also change into your 'demon-form' every hundred or so sword swings and obtain some alternate main weapons such as a Scythe (Seriously, the scythe needs to be put on the shelf, we're a horseman of the apocalypse not an angry farmer). In addition you can purchase magic-like special movies and enhanced combos from a pretty cool merchant as you obtain souls (Apparently the game takes place in Boletaria where souls are the preferred currency). Pretty standard stuff, but you end up with an arsenal that topples Kratos' easily.




The art style of the game could be simply described as WOW in HD, but I'll go further to say that the art director is Joe Maureira whom you may know as a regular penciler on Uncanny X-Men, who illustrated their "Age of Apocalypse" storyline. (Coincidence? I think not!). While the graphics aren't the best, they get the job done, and glitch's and screen tears are not notable to the point of non-existent (on the PS3 anyhow). Where I was surprised was in the quality of the voice work. While there doesn't seem to be a weak-link among the main characters, Mark Hamill sounds one maniacal laugh away from the Joker. The music isn't necessarily bad, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't aware of it even being there most of the time.

Clocking in at roughly 15 hours with near perfect pacing I proudly proclaim this a BETTER game then the first two installments of God of War (if the demo is any indication, better than the third as well *dodges thrown items*), and stands on par with the most recent Zelda installment in my opinion. Where I can't give it marks is it's inability to try anything new. There are a couple story twists in the end that are juicy enough to help pull you through. You will feel entertained but not to the point of a second playthrough. Fans of the genre will find this game worth more than a rent, and with an apparent movie in the works we'll see what other trouble War can get into. (Four Horsemen Cooking for the Wii, fund it).

Good God, Y'all, What is it good for?

Lee
lee@titsoftheiceberg.com
Written January 13, 2010


(Played and completed the PS3 version of the game in 14 hours on NORMAL difficulty.)