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PostSubject: Darksiders   Mon Oct 25, 2010 9:32 pm

Twisted Evil Like a Star @ heaven Like a Star @ heaven What a Face As if a horrible death isn’t enough to sully the demeanour, War is brought before the Charred Council -the OFCOM of celestial bickering. Turns out the apocalypse was a little premature, and it’s all War’s fault. He’s been set up. As frame jobs go, it doesn’t get much worse than having the end of the world hung around your neck. Naturally War’s a little grumpy, and he wants his revenge. The Council, meanwhile, need a lackey to go down to Earth and sort out the whole mess. Coming to a compromise, the council shackle War to one of their keepers -The Watcher- and send him back down to Earth to find out who’s behind all of this. So War arrives with a bad attitude and a thirst for blood, which he satiates by smashing demons into itty bitty pieces with his massive sword. Violence can be so cathartic.

It’s not all you’ll be doing in Darksiders, however. While on the surface the game may look all hack and plenty of slash, you’ll be guiding War across an open-world, battling and puzzling your way through several devilish dungeons. You could lazily describe Darksiders as ‘God of War meets The Legend of Zelda’, but in truth, the list of games that developers Vigil have taken inspiration from runs a lot longer than that. Prince of Persia, Shadow of the Colossus, Gears of War and even Valve’s Portal form integral parts of Darksiders' complex patchwork.

If you were being particularly churlish, you could say that nearly everything that you see in Darksiders has been done before -and better. However, much of the game’s inspiration is taken from those games’ primary mechanic, and building a game to incorporate them all is no mean feat. Like all good tribute bands, Darksiders manages to hit all the right notes while mixing in its own ideas, although you’re often reminded that it’s perhaps not quite the real deal.

Combat is a deliciously meaty, yet simplistic affair. In navigation, War clumps along under the weight of his bulk and huge armour, but in battle, he’s like a graceful boxer. He skips in a tricky sidestep and swings his giant blade -the Chaoseater- in glorious sweeping arcs as the blood gushes in a crimson whirlwind around him. His sword is assigned to just one button, while a secondary weapon -either a nasty scythe or powerful gauntlet- is assigned to another. Combos can be bought and upgraded to mash enemies into various sizes of kibble, but the primary focus is more on rhythm and crowd control. Learning which weapon’s attack to use at the right time should be your aim, before working out how to manoeuvre yourself into a position to unleash another flurry while keeping your quarry at arm’s length.

It’s satisfying stuff, particularly as new weapons and attacks become available. A dazed opponent can be finished off with a tap of your ‘insta-death’ button, always resulting in a particularly grisly end as War tears off his opponent’s head or lops off a limb or two. Spells offer further diversity, and you can also use objects from the environment: lobbing a rusty old sedan at a giant demon is always good for a laugh. Or more inexplicably, a wooden chair; generally more the preserve of a Saturday night pub fight than the Armageddon. Stitch that, Jimmy.

So there are plenty of ways to condemn baddies to a fiery grave, but it can often feel more a case of breadth than depth. There’s a large amount of techniques to mess around with, but once discovered the fighting’s curve tends to level off, rarely demanding too much of you. Which is fine in itself, but can often lead to you reusing the most effective moves against foes that rarely demand you mix it up. They may get bigger and badder, but the methods used to dispatch them remain fairly similar.

In true Zelda style, War must battle his way into the depths of a dungeon and locate a magical item that will open previously inaccessible areas. This structure –often dubbed ‘Metroidvania’– brings its own challenges. Successful imitators of this style are rare, due to the intricate level of planning and detail that need to go into each dungeon. And this is possibly Vigil’s greatest success with Darksiders. Telltale signs of blocked off areas pepper your path, both inside and outside of a dungeon. The levels are labyrinthine, but never confusing, subtly guiding your way without feeling like hand-holding. And then you discover the dungeon’s item, which opens up a whole number of possibilities.

This diverse tool kit is then put to task in sprawling environmental puzzles. You’ll always need to use your brand new toy first, of course, the game carefully introducing you to its uses and mechanics before letting you find your way back to that suspicious area you saw before. The puzzles become ever more inventive and elaborate as the game goes on, but never become too obtuse. Some will have you standing around scratching your head while you experiment with your inventory, the answer not immediately obvious. Then the ‘Eureka’ moment comes and with it, that brilliant feeling; smug satisfaction at your own smarts, tinged just slightly with sheepish realisation.

If there’s a criticism to be found in these puzzles, it’s that Vigil occasionally seem a little too pleased with certain ideas, stretching their charms beyond breaking point; drawn out beyond their welcome. You might think ‘ooh that’s clever’ as you solve a particularly well-designed puzzle, but then you have to repeat it three times with just the slightest variation. They tend to lose their sparkle after that.

The dungeon bosses, too, can be rather elongated affairs, further dragged down by the fact that they’re just not very good. They tend to be huge, ugly beasts -crabs, spiders, that kind of thing- and generally take the form of an action-puzzle. Finding out just how to beat the boss -usually with your newly acquired gadget- is a greater challenge than actually performing the deed. However, the design tends to revolve around a single idea, few of which are strong enough to support a lengthy scuffle. This is also exacerbated by some irritating enemy attack patterns, War’s dash-dodge move rendered frustratingly capricious by the teleporting ghouls.

Where the bosses are more of a success, however, is in their visual design: grotesque, comic monsters with sharp teeth and bulging muscular limbs. Frequent screen-tearing sullies the experience a little, but the game is colourful and attractive throughout, proving that the end of the world need not be all greys and browns. Lush green forests have burst from the ground in the 100 years since the apocalypse, while the hellish dungeons are doused in thick reds and electric blue hues. Vigil was co-founded by comic artist Joe Maduriera, and the chunky, graphic novel characters are captured with wonderful style and detail.

They take part in a convoluted but effortlessly entertaining tale, brought to life with sterling voice work throughout. War is a surly sod, but his gravelly, earnest voice fits him well. Elsewhere, turncoat demon Samael -with whom you forge an uneasy partnership- is suitably imposing and Mark Hamill proves he’s the master of villainous comic-book characters with a wonderfully sneering turn as The Watcher. Nearly all the characters you come across are well-developed, and you wonder if Vigil can form itself a enviable niche with these kind of comic book tales via video game.

The narrative can drive you on when the gameplay occasionally wanes. Darksiders is an undoubtedly ‘good’ game, but perhaps the biggest shame is that it rarely raises itself above that. The exception to that rule is the final dungeon, which combines all of your skills and items into a gigantic -and quite brilliant- environmental puzzle. But then it undoes that somewhat by crowbarring in a completely unnecessary fetch quest, killing the pace stone-dead. It’s unneeded as Darksiders is already a relatively lengthy game as it is, especially when you factor in the elusive collectables scattered around the world.

It would be unfair on Darksiders to end on a negative, however. It’s a very well crafted video game that entertains far more than it frustrates, and while it borrows heavily from several prestige titles, it weaves their characteristics into a cogent whole that serves Darksiders style, drive and narrative well. For those who perhaps find Bayonetta’s fireworks a little too off the wall to see in a new decade, you could do a lot worse than seek the comfort of a little familiarity, and the solace of War.
ONe of the greatest games ever
Twisted Evil Evil or Very Mad cyclops

NogardDragon598 Like a Star @ heaven Like a Star @ heaven Like a Star @ heaven cheers
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PostSubject: Re: Darksiders   Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:50 am

I wouldn't go as far to say it's one of the greatest games ever, but I would say it is decent. The gameplay had a few faults but overall it was alright in my opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Darksiders   Tue Nov 02, 2010 9:29 pm

Tharax34 wrote:
I wouldn't go as far to say it's one of the greatest games ever, but I would say it is decent. The gameplay had a few faults but overall it was alright in my opinion.
Honestly, in my opinion, the game is a step lower than okay, its got a few interesting puzzles, but other than that the game consists mostly of a strange storyline, alright graphics, and focuses too much on the finishing moves, when the game actually needs the combat system to be enhanced.
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