Darksiders [360]

Well, after a very rocky start with some annoying problems, Darksiders finally proved itself and continued to do so for the next 9 hours. It turned out to be an awesome experience despite its several technical flaws.

Like most people that have played this, I just couldn’t help but think of Zelda, especially once I acquired the hookshot abyssal chain and Epona Ruin. Let’s not forget the single-syllable named protagonist, Link War.

*insert hero pose*

Gameplay:
Pretty simple style of play with a few little variations thrown in. Much of the time you’ll be hitting the X-button as it swings that monster of a sword about, but combos and finishers help freshen that up. Soon into the game, you’ll get a second weapon which helps change the style of play unless you’re like me and barely use anything your sword. I was hoping that it would have multi-button combos (a la Devil May Cry) but you really only combo buttons with themselves or RB. Little disappointing, but it does keep you away from random button mashing and helps you focus on the awesome amount of carnage that War deals out.

There are a few set pieces such as flying a heavenly beast, fighting with one style in a locked arena and shooting with giant guns. These help bring some more variety into the game but they mostly disappear after the halfway mark. I personally found the locked arena battles more of a tutorial or simply extra practice on using a technique. Quite handy for later in game.

What good would an action game be without puzzles? Well, that depends on the puzzles and luckily Darksiders has lots of pretty simple but enjoyable puzzles. They kick up a notch once you get a hold of Voidwalker, which is basically the Aperture Science Handheld Portal Device but with a tiny little difference. You can have strong portals or weak portals. I won’t go into much detail but it makes one of the final puzzles very long but very fun.

"My sword and flaming horse... you get the idea"

Story/Presentation:
The story is just awesome. Plain and simple. The story starts with a bang, and pretty much the whole way through is intense. A couple of awesome twists and a wee bit of emotion make for a very memorable story but I don’t think it would be as memorable if it weren’t for the cut-scenes and acting. Not too many cut-scenes in the game, I personally would have liked a few more minutes’ worth but it did the job just fine.

Sound/Music:
Ok, these were the stand-out points of Darksiders. The score is incredible and it really annoys me that they have showed no plans to release it. What do you reckon one would need for the soundtrack to apocalypse and its following events? Heavy orchestras? Check! Large choirs? Check! Dark, brooding low notes? Check! It fits almost perfectly with the game but I still wish there was more of it.

The sounds throughout are exactly what you would expect but they didn’t really have much environment processing done to them i.e. large stone hall sounds should have a good chunk of reverb. I’m assuming this is due to memory/CPU constraints.

The voice-acting is stellar. War’s voice is deep and a little gruff and not over-the-top like many people would one of the four horsemen sound like. He actually sounds human. A rather evil, menacing human at that. The biggest part of the voice-acting is the voice of the character called “The Watcher”. He just so happens to be voiced by Mark Hamill. Just like all of his other voice roles, he is quite amazing.

"No matter how much your sword can glow, mine's better!"

Graphics:
From a technical point of view, they are pretty excellent if not a little dated, no more than a year though. Both pre-rendered and in-game cut-scenes look amazing. The overall visual feel of the game is not quite apocalyptic but close. The main thing that makes it not so is the weird colour palette they chose. It’s not that it is weird, it’s that it is rather plain, boring and way too bold. My initial impression was that they took the Kingdom Hearts colour pallet and for much of the game, that remained my opinion. I personally think everything should be have been a little darker, ‘more evil’ and using other such apocalyptic shades, but I imagine that it was a design point. It certainly helps it stand out from the other action games on the market. A minor gripe I had was with the camera, which would stay glued to you while you go up and down stairs giving a slight bobbing effect. Basically, the camera really didn’t enjoy level changes much.

My main issues with the graphics were the insanely large amount of screen tearing and frequent pauses. Screen tears occurred roughly every 1 – 2 seconds, which at some points got really annoying. It was basically like that the whole way through the game. The frequent pauses were very apparent in the early parts of the game and died off later but still occurred. For the first couple of hours, they were terrible. Any time an animation would load, everything paused for a noticeable amount of time. After a while, it did go away, so I’m attributing this problem the actual Xbox360 itself. I’ve heard that the PS3 version doesn’t have these issues but don’t take my word for it.

Epic feats like this are a common occurrence.

Score:
Overall, it is a most enjoyable game with a few large issues and a few minor ones (like not being able zoom out on the map) but the story and incredibly visceral combat makes up for these 10 fold.

Game: Darksiders
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Vigil Games
Score: 82%

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