Darksiders Review for Xbox 360

Darksiders Review for Xbox 360

The Art of War

If ever a game could be called a love letter to a bygone era, it’s Darksiders. This game features more homage to past games in the action/adventure genre than I could count on both hands. The game’s strongest point is that the developers knew just the right games to cherry pick ideas from, but it’s also its biggest weakness. It seems they got a little too carried away, and the game doesn’t present enough ideas of its own. What results is a game that is extremely high in quality but somewhat low on personality.

Darksiders screenshot

The only identifiably new thing that Darksiders brings to the table is its wonderful art style created by well-known comic artist Joe Madureira, who spent time drawing for Uncanny X-men and is famous for his exaggerated feminine and masculine characters. “Joe Mad” has created a truly unique aesthetic for Darksiders, and the overall package is massively uplifted by the art style employed.

Everything from the creative monsters to the, oftentimes, gigantic bosses is fantastic and gorgeous. While Darksiders doesn’t shimmer with the high quality graphics most often found in high-profile triple-A releases, the stylized look puts it on par with most of those games, nevertheless. It won’t make your jaw drop with Uncharted 2 levels of detail and polish, but you’ll still be enamored with the interesting world that’s been created here.

The game takes place during a time when the apocalypse has been prematurely unleashed, and the blame has been placed squarely on the shoulders of one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, War; our main character and protagonist. While the battle between Heaven and Hell rages, War serves neither camp. Rather, he is a warrior that serves the balance between these forces and keeps the peace. At the start of the game, War has been framed, and to find answers and seek revenge, he sets out to clear his name.

Darksiders screenshot

The concept for the story isn’t entirely original, but it’s relatively untrodden territory for video gaming, and you certainly won’t be feeling any déjà vu. Darksiders’ only problem in terms of story is that it has a tendency to leave it out. There are giant swathes of time during which the story is barely even mentioned, or mentioned only in passing. For a game that starts out with so much focus on concept and narrative, it becomes odd that the player can often be prone to forgetting characters entirely, or losing track of certain motives.

The aesthetic and story are just about where it ends for Darksiders in terms of what you can expect to be surprised by. What plays out beyond that is a mix of Zelda, God of War, and Legacy of Kain. You may be thinking this sounds like the recipe for the ultimate game of all time. How could a game like this not be awesome?

Darksiders screenshot

In a lot of ways, that’s exactly the case. At first, the game will seem like a straight God of War clone, with levels being mostly linear and easy with a heavy emphasis on swordplay and some platforming. But, before you know it, the game quickly hits you with some pretty serious dungeons. While there’s never anything that approaches the complexity of a Zelda dungeon, they will certainly surprise you and take you off guard if you’re not paying close attention.

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.

Darksiders screenshot

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.

These aren’t the flashiest or most high-powered graphics on the market. However, they’re surprisingly rich with color, and they manage to hold their own thanks to a great style and overall aesthetic. 3.4 Control
Darksiders keeps you well in control of War at all times. Combat is seamlessly controlled; however, some players will have problems during platform sections. 2.7 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
This was the most disappointing aspect of Darksiders. We were hoping for a sweeping orchestral score, but instead we found barely any music at all. 4.4 Play Value
When it first was announced, I doubt many people would have guessed this would be a nearly 20 hour adventure experience and more than just another God of War clone. There’s a lot of great gameplay here, and the spectacular bosses really round out the package. 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.

Game Features:

  • Apocalyptic Power of War – Unleash the wrath of War with devastating supernatural abilities, an extreme arsenal of angelic, demonic, and earthly weapons, and his fiery red phantom steed, Ruin.
  • Epic Quest – Battle across the wastelands and demon-infested dungeons of the decimated Earth, discovering new weapons, learning new abilities, and uncovering ancient relics to aid in your quest for vengeance and redemption.
  • Battle Heaven and Hell – Destroy all who stand in your way – from war-weary angelic forces to Hell’s hideous demon hordes, and confront the nefarious Destroyer, the very harbinger of Armageddon.

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