Hands-on preview: Darksiders II (Xbox 360)

The adventures of the four horsemen of the apocalypse continues.

THQ recently held a closed media event to showcase the latest build of the sequel to Vigil’s hack-and-slash debut title, Darksiders. PC World was one of the selected publications invited to cover the event and we went hands-on with Darksiders II ahead of its official release.

The first hour

The preview level began in an underground setting that was filled with deadly lava that needed traversing and submerged labyrinths that needed navigation. The setting was a stark contrast from the opening level from the original game, which was set in an urban environment. The other major change was that the protagonist is not War but Death, who comes with his own set of new moves, weapons and acrobatic abilities.

The graphics and sound were a slight leap over those found in the original game, which was a nice looking game in its own right, though the underground setting in the preview meant that there was not that much variation in the environment. The preview build was running on an Xbox 360, which is common at these types of events, but since the first game was near identical in graphics and presentation on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, I am expecting the same with Darksiders II.

One of the problems I had with the original game was that I had trouble navigating levels and finding the objectives. When playing the sequel, I once again found myself stumped in certain areas wondering what to do or where to go to next. Fortunately, there was a handy game guide available at the event, and there is still the possibility that a tutorial might make it into the final game. The combat mechanics in the game were tight and responsive, and Death’s new moves and attacks meant that the battles played out slightly different than with War in the original Darksiders.

While the underground levels that I played were a bit slow paced, I did receive a short demonstration of a later level where Death is more leveled up and rides his own horse. The said level was an open area with a giant boss, which was impressive in size, scope and detail. It’s nice to see developers achieving new things with the consoles’ hardware.

The verdict

I was a fan of the original Darksiders when it came out due to its unique art style, interesting setting and engaging gameplay. I did have some issues with navigating maps and finding objectives, as well as the sharp difficulty curve near the end of the game, but overall it was a fun title. The voice acting, especially for the game’s protagonist War, stood out and really helped make the game experience memorable.

Based on what I played, Darksiders II is shaping to be a worthy successor. While the new protagonist Death and the completely unfamiliar locations in the game took some time for me to get used to, I’m genuinely intrigued about where the developer will take the story and how it will stack up to the earlier installment. Gameplay wise, it is the same furious action and platforming that was in Darksiders, with a couple of new elements to mix things up.

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Patrick Budmar

Patrick Budmar

PC World
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