|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Vigil Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Jan.5, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Perhaps Darksiders' greatest strength comes from it's wonderful balance. Dungeon puzzles, combat, and environmental exploration are juxtaposed perfectly against one another such that the player never really feels like a segment is dragging on. Darksiders isn't a Zelda clone or a God of War clone, it's a great balance of both gameplay styles. Quite frankly, I think everyone can agree that Zelda could use a little bit of GoW's combat, and GoW could use a little bit of Zelda's complexity. So, in a lot of ways, this is a match made in heaven.
The combat is actually, in a lot of ways, just as good as God of War. It's not especially complex at first, but it adds new layers slowly over time and becomes really great and involved before you know it. Throughout much of the game, you'll be able to map one of several secondary weapons as a second attack. You can then attack with these weapons on their own, or you can string them into your combos for an extra bit of spice. Just when the same old sword combos get boring, you can then start to punctuate those attacks with a giant purple scythe or a huge metal fist.
You'll also have several special attacks that you can use to clear out large rooms of enemies such as a Prototype-esque move where giant spikes shoot out of the ground around you, dealing massive damage and knocking back any enemy within range.
As if that wasn't enough, you'll also have a rage meter that fills as you fight. When it gets completely full, you'll be able to turn into a giant flaming demon reminiscent of a Balrog from Lord of the Rings. When you're in this super-mode, you can wreak havoc on dozens of enemies at once, but it only lasts for a limited time. While this mode undoubtedly makes some segments far too easy, it's hard to feel shortchanged when you've just laid waste to an entire group of enemies.
Darksiders may have only one outright failing, and it's the sound design. Anyone who sees Darksiders is likely to suspect that the game would be heavily orchestrated with sweeping scores that fit with the religious undertones and epic scope of the game. However, that's not really the case at all. There's barely any of this, and music in general is in short supply. More often than not, the only audio at all consists of moody background noise and the tumult of combat. In a game that would have benefited greatly from a classic orchestral score, the omission seems obvious and bizarre.
If you're looking for a good action/adventure title to fill the void left by the relative dearth of games released in this genre, then Darksiders fits the bill nicely. It's an extremely technically proficient game, and it accomplishes everything that it sets out to do with flying colors. However, Darksiders only crime may be that they set their sights too low. This game hits the bullseye in the center of the target, but I couldn't help but wish that the target was a little higher towards the heavens.
CCC Freelance Writer