Darksiders [Available for Xbox 360 and PS3]
ESRB Rating: M
Number of players: 1
Developer: Vigil Games
Release Date: January 5th, 2010
Parent Talk: Darksiders is a more grown-up Zelda. While The Legend of Zelda is a kid-friendly adventure franchise, this game features an abundance of violence and gore. The cover art alone should warn parents to keep this product clear of the younger crowd. However, Darksiders doesn’t sport the kind of foul language that you expect from Grand Theft Auto, so letting your teenager pick it up may not be all bad, so long as you understand what they can take and what you’re comfortable supporting. The finishing moves are violent and may be shocking. Parents, please be careful and judge whether or not your child is mature enough to handle violence.
Nintendo fanboys may undoubtedly cry foul at Darksiders, which borrows heavily from the flagship Legend of Zelda series. However, other fantastic games have done the same, like Crystalis or Alundra. Those willing to forgive the “clone” stigma can enjoy Darksiders, where players control War, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse. Battling epic baddies, exploring dungeons, solving puzzles…it’s all here. The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 are home to plenty of inspiring games, but they don’t lay claim to much of anything comparable to Nintendo’s famous franchises. This makes Darksiders all the more tempting; is it worth an investment?
A thoroughly complete adventure. The gameplay is rock-solid because it sponges a firmly established system — the 3D Legend of Zelda. To be fair, Darksiders features its own innovations and different controls. For example, War can jump whenever, unlike Link who only hops between ledges. There are several weapons to acquire, loads of abilities and magic, and lots of items to collect. The main quest may only span 15 hours, but reasons to backtrack are there.
+The visual design. Darksiders is easy on the eyes, and the scale of enemies and dungeons is just cool. It doesn’t pursue the absurdity of God of War, but there are plenty of jaw-dropping moments. The bosses in particular are massive, like the bat queen Tiamat or the deadly sandworms. War’s model is intricately detailed, and the effects impressive. The combat is also fluid. Every time War slices and dices an enemy, it looks so smooth. He cleaves an enemy in two and seamlessly follows it up with another attack.
+The combat. The system works well, and is easy to get into. The quick-time finishing skills are familiar, but feel satisfying rather than overdone. They’re implemented in unique ways for each boss fight. The weapons, the scythe and multifunctional glaive especially, are very fun to use. The glaive can “stick” to an enemy and persist damage if charged, or be a puzzle-solving tool. War can also fight on horseback later on, and it’s immensely enjoyable. The D-pad makes managing your arsenal and abilities quick and painless, which is great for kicking butt. The difficulty doesn’t come close to Devil May Cry, so the commands don’t require insane reflexes to pull off.
+The excellent control. The learning curve is minimal, as upgrades and attacks are introduced at a steady rate throughout the adventure. Everything plays smoothly
+The music and voice work. It may be over the top, but Darksiders is engaging. Mark Hamill performs well as the always-prodding and condescending Watcher, which is likely inspired by his role as the Joker in the animated Batman TV series. The main character, War, is more emotionless and grave, but it suits his nature. The effects are great too, with weapons and a battle atmosphere that sound appropriate. Combat is filled with gruesome thuds and slices. The music is well-done and fits the epic nature of the game.
– Déjà vu. The familiar combat and mechanics makes Darksiders feel like you’ve been there and done that. There isn’t anything particularly “new” here.
– The writing doesn’t do War’s role justice. He isn’t much fun to listen to or the most identifiable lead. He’s not annoying, but could be a better delivery.
The screen tearing. The Xbox 360 version is mostly identical to the PlayStation 3 counterpart, but the tearing is unpleasant. When the camera shifts or characters move, the screen lags to catch up. Thankfully this problem has been resolved via a downloadable update, so it’s no longer an issue for anyone with Internet access. The PlayStation 3 version wasn’t shipped with this issue.
Darksiders is fun, and a complete experience. Innovation is the only significant lack, but those desiring a solid adventure would be wise to play this. What Darksiders does, it does well. Most would enjoy just one play through, but that takes time, especially for completionists. Darksiders can certainly tide you over until the next Wii Zelda arrives later this year or in early 2011 if you own an Xbox 360 or PS3.